AUSTIN (KXAN) — Many Austinites were left disappointed late Saturday morning as they watched Denzel Dumfries score in the second half for the Netherlands, giving the Dutch team a 3-1 lead without much time left on the clock.
At the Lustre Pearl in east Austin, which hosts official viewing parties for Austin FC during the season, a packed crowd started to dissipate from the World Cup watch party as the viewers lost hope for a win.
Their inklings were not off. The US held its own but failed to proceed to the quarterfinals, and the team suffered almost an identical fate to the Dutch in 2002 — a 3-1 loss in the knockout round.
Though this was not the outcome many were hoping for, one Austinite reveled in the fact that there were so many folks in the crowd excitedly watching the game.
Erick Morales, a lifelong soccer fan, said watch parties for the World Cup in previous years weren’t nearly as full as they were today. He suspects the presence of Austin’s professional soccer teams has something to do with the influx of spectators.
“Austin FC has really influenced this sport around (Austin),” Morales said.
The packed watch parties today mirror broadcast numbers FOX Sports released last week. For the group stage match between the US and Wales, Austin ranked as the top market for viewership, according to an Austin FC press release.
And that wasn’t an aberration. For the Portugal versus Uruguay match on Dec. 1, Austin ranked in the top three markets in terms of viewership, according to FOX Sports Press Pass.
Two top-flight German played Nov. 20 at the Q2 Stadium where Austin FC plays. The two teams that played were VfB Stuttgart and 1. FC Köln from the Bundesliga, Germany’s top league.
When they were in town, Stuttgart’s head coach Michael Wimmer talked to KXAN and said he was impressed with the success of Austin FC.
“What they’ve built up in two years is fantastic,” Wimmer said. “I watch MLS games and see they are sold out, and the soccer culture is booming in the U.S.”
Dirk Colpaart was watching the match today at Jack & Ginger’s, an Irish Pub in The Domain. By the end of the match, he was undoubtedly feeling a little less sour than other Austinites watching the game.
“Today, I cannot lose,” he said. Colpaart is from the Netherlands and has lived in the US for over four decades. He watched the game with his son and a crowd of other Dutch soccer fans wearing orange, the team’s color.
He too has noticed that Austin has embraced soccer more in the last few years.
“I love it,” he said.