STAMFORD, Conn. -- Ian Fulton of Stamford saw the agony, the ecstasy and ultimately the disbelief of U.S. soccer fans after Portugal scored a last-minute tying goal in Sunday's tilt between the teams at the World Cup.
It may have temporarily dashed the dreams of American fans that their team would be assured of entry into the next round of the soccer tournament.
However, Fulton, general manger of Tigin, an Irish bar and restaurant at 175 Bedford St., Stamford, said the team is still very much alive and he's confident they will go to the next round.
“I think they will go through," Fulton said as he sketched out a scenario where the U.S. makes it to the quarterfinals.
“And you know what that day is,” he said with a smile, with the quarterfinals falling on July 4, Independence Day.
Fulton, a native of Inverkeithing, a small town about 10 miles north of Edinburgh, is an expert when it comes to the sport. He came to the United States to play professional soccer, spending time on a number of teams, including the Las Vegas Dustdevils, who won the 1994 Continental Indoor Soccer League.
"Got to meet President Clinton in 1995," he said of a team photo op with Bill Clinton.
However, the team folded the next year and the league went away two years later.
During Sunday's game, the bar was hopping after the Americans jumped out to a late 2-1 lead, Fulton said.
“We had 400 people here, look up there,” he said pointing to the ceiling. “That’s beer they were spraying.”
But then came the crushing goal on almost the last play of the game and the stunned reaction of the overwhelmingly American crowd.
“A few of them were actually crying, and they had the look of, ‘you’re kidding me,’ “ Fulton said. “You could have heard a pin drop.”
Meanwhile, American jerseys, especially the more colorful visiting version, are a big seller at Modell's Sporting Goods in Stamford, store manager Wilfredo Carrasco said.
Sales were strong leading up to the Portugal game, and he said he expects demand to continue. If the U.S. had won Sunday, things would have been busier at the store, he said.
"We would have had some merchandise by Fedex," he said with a laugh about how the wins generate excitement. He believes the sale of U.S. jerseys will continue to be strong, especially leading up to Thursday's game against Germany.
The U.S. is tied with Germany atop their group, while Ghana and Portugal have one point each. If the U.S. earns a win or tie against Germany on Thursday, it will go through to the next round. If the U.S. loses, the team may still be in good shape: If Ghana and Portugal play to a tie, then the U.S. moves ahead. If either Portugal or Ghana wins - and the U.S. loses - there still is a strong chance for the U.S. to go through based on goal differences. That's the math behind Fulton's confidence.
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