EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – Eastchester truly believes that “we can win” and enthusiasm for the U.S. Men’s National Team has reached a fever pitch as residents gear up to cheer on their country as it prepares to face Belgium in the World Cup.
After narrowly escaping the “group of death” by virtue of a goal differential tiebreaker over Portugal, the 13th ranked Yanks are seeking their first Round of 16 victory since 2002.
Although the team was a long shot to advance even this far in the tournament, locals have jumped on the World Cup bandwagon and excitement for the games have only grown as the Americans keep surprising.
“Every game has been so exciting, (my husband and I) actually took the day off so we could watch the game and cheer them on,” Eastchester resident Michelle Dawes said while having lunch outdoors in Tuckahoe waiting for the game to start on Tuesday.
“I don’t know everything about our team, but I do know we shouldn’t have made it this far,” she added with a laugh.
Patriotic pride has swept the nation, as the country has unified under the USMNT’s slogan “one nation, one team.” Although he won’t start in Tuesday’s match, the Americans were given a boost when striker Jozy Altidore was cleared to play by doctors after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury he sustained in the opening match against Ghana in the group stage.
“If Jozy plays, I like our odds. Belgium looked pretty good (going undefeated) in the first round, but they weren’t tested like (the Americans) were,” Victor Kirkland said in Eastchester. “This team reminds me of the (2002) team a few years back that wouldn’t go away and won a few miracle games.”
Win or lose, Tuckahoe resident Mickey Burton, who noted that he worked remotely on Tuesday, said that he has enjoyed this World Cup more than any in recent memory.
“It’s been a lot of fun to watch. I’m not a big soccer fan, but the games I’ve seen have all been really competitive and entertaining,” he said near Village Hall on Tuesday afternoon. “I’m hoping our guys can keep it going, but I definitely want the games to stay as good.”