The U.S.-England World Cup watch party at Salt Yard East brought the bar to life Friday afternoon. Despite the game ending in a 0-0 tie, there were plenty of exciting moments that had fans on their feet, cheering and yelling for team U.S.A.
Doors opened at 10:30 a.m., and around 11:30 a.m. most of the seats in the large viewing room were taken as a DJ played different songs over the loudspeakers, including Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” The line to get beer and booze continued to grow before kickoff, and at noon many were still waiting to be served while watching the game on the smaller TV screen at the bar.
At about ten minutes in the crowd gasped for air as U.S. defender Walker Zimmerman blocked a shot from England’s Harry Kane in front of the goal. “Go U.S.A.!” several fans screamed after the block.
The U.S. had its moments in the first half, too. A Weston McKennie cross into the box at about 16 minutes in found the head of forward Haji Wright, whose near goal had fans on their feet inside Salt Yard East.
The two large screens and other smaller TVs provided plenty of viewing action for those at the watch party. The crowd got progressively louder as the game went on and more alcoholic beverages were consumed.
At about 33 minutes in, fans roared to life when Christian Pulisic blasted a shot off the crossbar for the U.S. team. Pulisic kept knocking but couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities, missing a header inside the goal box at about 43 minutes in before both teams went to the locker room at the end of the scoreless half.
Booze flows, crowd jumps to its feet during second half
The crowd moved from watching players missing shots to taking their own shots of booze during halftime. The line to the bar didn’t seem to ease up even though bartenders couldn’t close out tabs due to the machines being down. One patron jokingly said, “You’ve been in line long enough to know what you want by now, right?”
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Several fans were still standing in line as the second half kicked off in what would be an underwhelming performance from both sides. U.S. midfielder Tyler Adams prevented England from getting within shooting range with a hard but clean slide tackle inside the goal box about 51 minutes in.
At around 53 minutes in, the crowd at Salt Yard East could be heard yelling at the ref as England’s Luke Shaw took out U.S. forward Tim Weah in a hard challenge. “Come on ref!” one diehard U.S. fan screamed. Despite the hard challenge, no yellow card was given, and the crowd settled back in their seats.
There were a couple more close calls for both teams, including a U.S. free kick at about 62 minutes and another free kick in extra time that saw a header go wide by England forward Harry Kane. Although neither team looked like they were settling for a tie, that was the outcome as the ref blew his whistle at the end of the match.
The U.S. plays Iran in its last group stage match at noon Tuesday, Nov. 29. The U.S. must win against Iran in order to advance to the Round of 16. If the U.S. advances, there will likely be more watch parties around Albuquerque, including at Salt Yard East, at Civic Plaza and at Sandia Resort and Casino, which hosted a huge crowd for Friday’s U.S. England game.