Omaha soccer fans show up in force to support USA in World Cup

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Published: Nov. 25, 2022 at 10:33 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska football fans heading to their favorite watering hole to watch the Huskers game at Iowa found parking tougher to come by than a Black Friday bake sale.

That’s because there was another kind of football game drawing in fans around the metro. And these games only come along once every four years.

The sounds of soccer echoed along Leavenworth, as fans at Barrett’s Pub and Grill followed the ebb and flow of the United States versus England in the World Cup in Qatar.

”It’s the first one we’ve been to in eight years,” Chris Zaleski said. “It’s something we’ve missed, being able to get crowds like this, see the intensity of the games, its something we’ve missed out on for a while and we’re happy to be back.”

Zaleski and his wife Whitney are officers with the American Outlaws Omaha chapter. The national program supporting soccer in the US started in Lincoln but now has 200 local chapters around the world.

“It’s been a while since we’ve been here,” Isaiah Olson said. “So we’re just excited playing a big team and hopefully we get a good result.”

On this afternoon, AO fans weren’t the only ones making noise, of course. An estimated 1,000 attended at the pub’s various bars and levels, indoors and out. The cheers could be heard for blocks and at times sounded loud enough to be heard in Qatar’s Al Bayt Stadium.

“I’d say we sold, oh man, hundreds of cases (of beer),” owner and general manager of Barrett’s Jack Barrett Jeffruyi said after the match ended. “I haven’t gone through inventory yet, but I’d say we’ve gone through quite a bit.”

It wasn’t all about beer, as families together for the Thanksgiving holiday turned out in numbers as well.

“You know its Thanksgiving, kind of weird for a World Cup, but a lot of families were around and it was good to see them out,” Jeffruyi said. “We had two food trucks here to take care of them, our kitchen couldn’t handle it, of course, our tiny kitchen. But it was good to see all the families and the kids having fun in the parking lot, it was a good day.”

One adult fan at Barrett’s asked us not to show him on camera because he had called in sick to work to watch the match. Barrett laughed that in his job as an owner and general manager at a sports pub he didn’t have to do that.

“No, that’s actually one of the best parts about it,” he said. “I mean, some times I miss the big plays, at least the crowds around me to give me the update.”

The result? Naught-naught or nil-nil or 0-0. A tie. The US Men’s National Team is in a must-win scenario Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. Omaha time against Iran. The advice is to get there early, and plan your sick days accordingly.