World Cup viewing parties are being set up across the Southland on Tuesday for fans to watch the U.S. Men’s National Team take on Belgium in their first game of the knockout round.
Winning the match means advancement and a ticket to the quarterfinals.
A portion of Pine Street in Downtown Long Beach will be closed off between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to host a viewing party for supporters to cheer on the squad.
The street will be closed between Broadway and 3rd Street, which may be a headache for commuters, but a boon to fans draped in red, white and blue.
The showing in Long Beach will also stream the earlier match between Switzerland and Argentina which will determine who the U.S. or Belgium will play in next round.
Major League Soccer team the Los Angeles Galaxy is continuing their series of viewing parties with an event at Veteran’s Park in Redondo Beach starting at 1 p.m.
Thousands of fans showed up at the Galaxy’s event on Hermosa Beach Pier last week to cheer on the Americans against Germany.
Prior to the match, media focus has been centered around U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann's comments at a press conference Monday about having a French-speaking referee officiating the game.
“We know he did two games already, and he did them very well,” Klinsmann said. “Is it a good feeling? No, because he’s coming from the same group as Belgium and Algeria. He’s able to speak French with their players on the field, not with us.”
Betting agencies have put the Belgian side at a slight favorite over the U.S. to advance, but fans are confident about the American squad’s chances.
“Belgium is a good opponent, but I definitely think we can beat them,” one fan said. “I definitely see a chance of us getting out of the (round of) 16, out of the eight and even moving into the four.”
This optimistic outlook is not uncommon from a fanbase whose motto has become “I believe that we will win.”
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In their face-off against Belgium, the U.S. may be given a boost by the return of 24-year-old striker Jozy Altidore, who was injured in the opening match against Ghana.
A loss in the game would mean an exit out of the World Cup, but Klinsmann said he sees getting this far as an accomplishment.
“Advancing in the knock-out stage now after all our improving means the world to me personally, Klinsmann said. “Because you start a process, and I started that three years ago, where we see things developing in many different forms, not only on the national team level.”