World Cup: Fresno soccer fans rejoice in U.S win vs. Ghana (video)

The Fresno BeeJune 16, 2014 

More than 180 people sporting red, white and blue crammed shoulder-to-shoulder into a downtown Fresno bar Monday afternoon for the United States' debut at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

In unison, the folks in Peeve's Public House belted the "Star Spangled Banner" with enough passion and intensity to send chills down your spine.

For 24-year-old Carlos Plazas, the World Cup atmosphere in Fresno was unbelievable.

"Soccer isn't the biggest sport in our country, but those that love the sport are the greatest fans," he said.

Chants of "USA, USA, USA!," "I believe that we will win!" and "USA ain't nothin' to mess with!" echoed inside the bar as fans made it standing-room only for the full 90-plus minutes against Ghana -- the team that eliminated the Americans in the previous two World Cups.

But it only took 32 seconds for everyone to erupt in cheers as Clint Dempsey nailed a perfect finish for a 1-0 lead.

While the goal put the U.S. ahead, every fan knows it's not over until the final whistle. "Even with the one-goal lead, I was nervous the whole time," said Victoria Burnell. "Ghana wasn't sleeping and that forced the U.S. to play more defense."

The Black Stars equalized in the 82nd minute, silencing the bar as fans prayed a repeat of 2010 and 2006 wasn't in the books.

Four minutes later, substitute John Brooks scored the game-winner, sending Peeve's into hysteria.

"It's redemption!" yelled 29-year-old Mario Reyes. "To watch us upset Ghana, who's beat us two times, it's incredible! I have tears of joy!"

The United States plays Portugal in its second group match at 3 p.m. Sunday. Peeve's Public House is the official World Cup headquarters for the Fresno chapter of the American Outlaws, the unofficial supporter of the U.S. national team.

The reporter can be reached at amoreno@fresnobee.com, (559) 441-6401 or @anhelllll on Twitter.

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