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September 14, 2014

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Local club amplifies Team USA soccer fans’ voice

WHERE TO WATCH

• Soccer fans have flocked to Crown & Anchor British Pub (1350 E. Tropicana Ave). for years. And not just every four years for the World Cup — it’s Las Vegas’ landing spot to watch European leagues year-round.

It’s common to see dozens of tourists, especially fans rooting for England, leaving Crown & Anchor on foot after their nation’s World Cup game to head back to the Strip. The game’s outcome, and the amount of beer they consumed while watching, dictates their mood.

• McMullan’s Irish Pub (4650 W. Tropicana Ave.) will host a watch party with the local chapter of the American Outlaws for the United States’ opener against Ghana on June 16.

• Some casinos will have viewing parties in their showrooms or sports books, many with food and drink specials.

Phillip Garcia and his friends were outnumbered at this viewing party.

When they arrived at McMullan’s Irish Pub to watch the United States soccer team compete in its 2010 World Cup game against England, they realized that most of the patrons were pulling for the Brits.

But thanks to Garcia’s efforts, that won’t be the case for this year’s World Cup. The U.S. plays Ghana on June 16 in its opener, and the game is expected to draw a pro-USA crowd so large that McMullan’s management plans to set up overflow seating outside. Most of the fans will be from the American Outlaws fan club, which Garcia helped form four years ago.

“We are preparing for 500 (people),” owner Brian McMullan said. “We’ll put them on the sidewalk if necessary so everyone can be part of this. Even if you aren’t a soccer fan, you will be amazed. This is something you don’t expect.”

The fans chant fight songs, wave flags and cheer at the television, awaiting the next U.S. scoring attack. Someone bangs a knee-high drum to lead the chants. The passion rivals that of fans in European countries.

“We didn’t have that outlet to cheer on (the national team),” Garcia said. “We are a bunch of like-minded people getting together to support the team. We are passionate about something we love — that is the beautiful game and this beautiful country.”

Shortly after the 2010 World Cup, Garcia was in California for a national team game against Mexico. The stadium was packed with Mexican supporters that day, booing loudly during the U.S. national anthem.

“The United States was getting crapped on in its own country. It was awful,” Garcia said.

Embarrassed by of the lack of support, Garcia and Royce Woodward started the Las Vegas branch of the American Outlaws, the official fan club of U.S. soccer with 115 worldwide chapters. About 125 locals pay the a $25 annual membership fee to join.

The group travels to national team games together, and 10 from Las Vegas plan to head to the World Cup in Brazil.

The Outlaws will have face painters and distribute USA fans to create a true soccer game-day environment. The bar will have food and beer specials. You don’t need to be a member of the American Outlaws to attend. Membership includes discounted game tickets, and online shopping deals and an official club t T-shirt.

And, of course, there is the excitement on game day.

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