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So, with a Metrocard and a notebook, and fresh off repeated viewings of "Victory," I decided to check out as many games in as many World Cup-crazy locales as I could during the first four days of the World Cup. Here is what it would have looked like if you had called "Shotgun!"
Germany v. Costa Rica
Loreley (Bowery, Manhattan)
You know it's World Cup time when the bouncer at Loreley -- a German beer garden located off the Bowery in Manhattan -- is telling people on the sidewalk a half-hour before the noon kickoff to find somewhere else to watch the Germany v. Costa Rica game. I was half-expecting him to look around at the forlorn mass of people by the door and scream, "Don't you people have jobs?!?!" That's what my mom would have done, anyway. The bar was at full capacity... and then some. It was if Oktoberfest came four months early.
Note: I resisted the obvious temptation for a Hasselhoff reference. I'm banking on World Cup karma.
No Goal Poles
Poland v. Ecuador
The Europa Club (Greenpoint, Brooklyn)
A 6 and L train later, I was in the heart of the New York expatriate Polish community -- Greenpoint, Brooklyn -- for the Poland v. Ecuador game. The venue, The Europa Club, is a dance club by night, and for this day at least, ground zero for Polish soccer fans. Oddly, the lighting there is probably the same for dancing or watching soccer. It was so dark, I would have kept bumper-carring into people had they not been belting out "Polska!" chants to help me navigate. But somehow I was still able to see the waitresses... the sweet, sweet waitresses.
La Pequeñito Paraguayan
Paraguay v. England
Fernando's Apartment (Battery Park, Manhattan)
There is no shortage of England fans and bars that love them in New York. But I wanted something different, so I headed to Battery Park, Manhattan, to watch the England v. Paraguay game with an old friend named Fernando, his Paraguayan wife and their two-month old daughter. It didn't hurt that they offered a food spread.
Working the remote with utmost dexterity, Fernando shuttles back and forth between the ABC HD station (God bless you, HD) and Univision to get some choice commentary from ex-Paraguayan keeper Jose Chilavert, on the mike for Univision.
Chilavert, a bit of a loose cannon in his playing days, is ripping into the players still on the team from his day. He's settling old scores. I'm settling after some eggs and toast from the food spread.
As the game drags on, and I do mean draaaaaaaaaags on, I start to feel sleepy. Fernanda, the two-month old daughter, has already beaten me to it.
Early Christmas in Hollis
Trinidad & Tobago v. Sweden
Club Mangoville (Hollis, Queens)
I got a hot tip that the place to catch all the pride and pageantry of the Trinidad & Tobago fans would be out in Hollis, Queens, at Club Mangoville. I was expecting a packed house of Soca Warriors madness. I wasn't even discounting the thought of showing up to find Billy Ocean belting out some numbers pre-game.
Also never helps when you have faith in a "hot tip." Has any hot tip ever panned out... EVER? Hot tips are how retirements are lost at racetracks.
Update: six more T 'n' T fans come by for the second half, so once Trinidad & Tobago's defender Avery John is sent off, the fans at Mangoville finally outnumber the T 'n' T players on the field... which is nice.
This one ended scoreless, but by the T 'n' T fans reactions, you'd think Trinidad has won, which in a way, they have.
Delay of Game
Argentina v. Ivory Coast
Novecento/Felix/Village Lantern (SoHo/West Village, Manhattan)
I made my way back to Manhattan for third and final game on Saturday -- Argentina v. Ivory Coast. Novecento, a restaurant in SoHo, is a gathering spot for all things Argentinian. By the time I show up, they are packed to the gills, but have opened their windows to the sidewalk, and there are 50 people outside the bar straining to see the game.
Somewhere in there is a joke about how Brazil is always a few seconds ahead of Argentina when it comes to soccer.
Iran v. Mexico
Mundial (East Village, Manhattan)
While most of America woke up to go to church on Sunday, Mexican and Iranian soccer fans worshipped at their particular citadel: any television showing the game. My particular one was Mundial in the East Village, Manhattan. Spurred on by an Iranian diplomat's e-mail, the Iranians came out en masse to pack the place.
A sea of men in Ali Daei jerseys routinely break out the "EEE-RHAN!" chants, but after an early Mexico goal, a few brave Mexican souls showed their presence and voices.
And then our old friend makes his first appearance: Mr. Air Horn. I'm a little surprised it is just now making its appearance this World Cup weekend, but it's good to know he's still around and being set off five feet from my ears in a bar. Where was that air horn for the "Persian carpet" bit?
The crowd starts to get really restless, but then Iran scores. Bedlam. And apparently bedlam in Iran is beer being thrown everywhere. But in a spirit of sportsmanship, the Iranian fans flung Mexico's finest, Corona. See, we CAN all get along.
Angola v. Portugal
Diplomatic Residence (Westchester County, NY)
When the TV schedule for the World Cup games came out and I had the idea of watching as many games in as many interesting places as I could, I thought, "Where would the Angolans watch the Angola v. Portugal game?" So I called the Angolan Ambassador to the UN's office to ask if they knew of a place to watch the game. Ever-helpful press officer Estevao Alberto responded, "Why don't you come watch it with us at the Diplomatic Residence in Westchester?"
Uh... really? Oooookay!
So, with a few friends, I jetted up the Taconic Parkway, arriving just in time find out that Portugal has scored a goal in the fourth minute. After some introductions and no major violations of protocol on our part (we think), we settled in to watch the game with Ambassador Ismael A. Gaspar Martins, his family and friends.
Despite a solid effort by the Palancas Negras (Black Antelopes), Angola was not able to overcome Portugal -- the country that colonized it until 1975.
After the game, the ever-gracious Ambassador Martins treated us to a traditional Angolan dinner of Muzonge (fish soup), cassava root, rice, etc., while discussing Angolan history and letting us know, among other things, that the biggest Angolan community in the U.S. is in Houston. Who knew?
Men Not At Work
Australia v. Japan
Eight Mile Creek (NoLita, Manhattan)
Oddly, despite heading to a bar at 8:30 a.m. on a Monday, I felt no shame. I don't think the other 80 people packed into the downstairs of Eight Mile Creek -- an Aussie bar in downtown Manhattan -- did either.
The Aussies were in good spirit and voice to begin, but once Japan scored, the place grew silent. And quite frankly, attention spans wavered, as demonstrated by the guy next to me, who smelled like he had spilled half a carafe of cologne on himself and spent more time looking at the few girls in the place than the game.
Czech Yourself, Before You Wreck Yourself
Czech Republic v. USA
Bohemian Beer Hall (Astoria, Queens)
Only one place to watch the Czech Republic v. USA: the outdoor beer garden of the Bohemian Beer Hall in Astoria, Queens. This authentic Czech beer garden, the last one in New York City, erected tents and brought in four massive televisions for the game.
No sooner than the "CHEEZ-EEE!" chants started up, Jan Koller headed one in back of the ol' onion bag. This won't end well.
Reyna snaps the post. Finally, the U.S. fans can make some noise and, judging by the noise, I'd say they made up 40% of the fans in the beer garden.
At halftime, I meet Dave from Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Dave, in a classic U.S. '94 worn polo shirt, informs me that he had his colonoscopy moved up four hours so it could be done by kickoff. At least something is getting stuck in for the U.S. today. (Ba-dum-pum. Don't forget to tip your waitresses.)
Luckily, the procedure turned out well. The doctor told Dave not to drink for three days. Dave was on his second pitcher of pilsner. U-S-A! Somebody get me a bandana!
Rosicky with another clinical finish. This one is done. And now the Czech fans near me are breaking out the "Ziggy Zoggy" chant, with grins from ear to ear. Is the U.S. really ranked fifth in the FIFA rankings?
In a slump after the U.S. game, I decide to watch the Italy v. Ghana at home, concluding my four-day World Cup run.
All teams in the World Cup are drawn into opening round groups with three other teams. By pure chance, some teams get easy draws, others the dreaded Group of Death. But in New York City, you get pick your groups and how many. And I decided to infiltrate as many of the multidinous soccer-crazed groups of New York City as I could.
Four days, nine games, nine bars, three boroughs, one diplomatic residence and countless languages later, I'm a better person for it.
Thing is, I have 27 days to go. Somebody should probably start warming up. I'm going to need a sub.
Grellan Harty has worked as an editor for NBA.com and FoxSports.com. Previously, he chronicled the Kentucky Derby infield experience for ESPN SportsTravel.