It wasn’t the Fourth of July.
It wasn’t Flag Day.
It wasn’t even Memorial Day.
But Sunday was probably more patriotic and saw more red, white, and blue than all three combined.
It was World Cup matchday.
The US Men’s National Team was facing Portugal in their second match of the 2014 World Cup, and after their incredible performance against Ghana the Monday before, World Cup fever had certainly hit America.
Despite being in the midst of the College World Series, Sunday was Media Day, and that meant that all of us NCAA.com staffers had the day off — and we weren’t letting it go to waste.
Atlanta’s new MLS team hosted a watch party at Brookhaven Park and what an experience it would be to watch the biggest game on the biggest stage with about 20, 0000 of our closest friends.
After meeting at my house and laughing at everyone’s ridiculously American gear, we drove to nearby Brookhaven Park. Even if we hadn’t known the way, the river of red, white, and blue would have led us right there. We spread out our picnic blanket, taking in the end of the Korea vs. Algeria game before exploring the grounds — food trucks, games, and pickup soccer games sprawled out over the grounds.
The anticipation built as we got more and more restless — Andrew, Justin, and I could hardly sit still while the rest of our group searched for a better vantage point. As the game kicked off to a resounding electric guitar version of the national anthem, the whole park belted the words, excited to see our boys.
Despite finding the perfect perch, we stood the entire time, screaming and yelling — and constantly moving farther up the lawn away from our blanket in all the excitement.
The U.S. didn’t win thanks to a late goal from Cristiano Ronaldo, but we left feeling like winners. It’s been 11 months since I had a traditional weekend off. Spending it at the park, watching soccer, with some of my closest friends, well, it wasn’t a bad welcome back to weekend normalcy.