EVERETT — The morning after Thanksgiving, Luke Sayler had a decision to make: stay home or venture out.
“I thought I would be a little more social,” said the Everett soccer fan, who searched for places to watch the United States battle England in the World Cup. He landed at the Irishmen pub in downtown Everett, one of multiple Snohomish County bars that opened early for the 11 a.m. Friday game.
“It’s my favorite sports event,” said Sayler, wearing a U.S. team scarf and jersey. “I like the stakes, the passion, and everyone in the world is involved.”
The stakes were high as the countries played to a scoreless draw. It’s considered a good result for the U.S. men’s national soccer team, who haven’t played in a World Cup since 2014. The team failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia.
Now, the U.S. team will face Iran on Tuesday. A win would put them through to the knockout round with 16 teams.
About 20 fans gathered at the Irishmen, collectively whooping and sighing amid the game’s ups and downs. They sipped on Irish coffee drinks and pints of Guinness.
Stan and Theresa Groomer staked out a primo spot early in front of a TV.
Stan Groomer, who coached high-school soccer for 25 years in Snohomish County, said he enjoys seeing familiar faces from the club season meet on an international stage. He ranked the U.S. team’s chances as “fair” ahead of the match, though he thought the United States would have a tough time beating the English defense.
The U.S. team put the pressure on England in a tight game, with several chances on goal. Ultimately, neither side was able to get one on the scoreboard.
Snohomish County has a connection to the World Cup courtesy of Chris Henderson. The Everett native and Cascade High School graduate was a member of the 1990 U.S. World Cup team in Italy.
The next World Cup, in 2026, will take place in 16 cities across the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Lumen Field in Seattle will be one of the venues. Stan and Theresa Groomer want to attend a match and plan to “start saving up money now,” Theresa Groomer said.
Many have questioned the decision to name Qatar the host country of this year’s World Cup. Fans at the Irishmen had similar feelings.
They pointed to Qatar’s laws against LGBTQ people and the alleged abuse of the migrant workers who built the country’s World Cup stadiums. The U.S. Department of Justice has also accused FIFA, the World Cup’s governing body, of accepting bribes from countries including Qatar for rights to host the World Cup.
“I like that some of the teams make statements when they can,” said Matt Deeg, who watched the game with brother-in-law Neil Ferguson at the Irishmen.
The German team covered their mouths in a team photo in silent protest of FIFA’s crackdown on free speech. FIFA had threatened to penalize players with yellow cards for wearing “OneLove” rainbow armbands in support of LGBTQ rights. And Iranian players didn’t sing their national anthem in a show of support for protests in their country.
The Irishmen pub plans to open at 10 a.m. Tuesday for the U.S. vs. Iran match.