TRAVERSE CITY — All eyes at The Yard were fixed on the televisions mounted to the walls throughout the bar on Tuesday.
The downtown sports bar was busy as patrons grabbed a late afternoon bite to eat or a drink, while watching the United States take on Belgium in a World Cup round of 16 matchup.
Shawn Leonard, vacationing with his family of four from Copley, Ohio, made sure to find a good spot to catch the action and ended up at The Yard.
“We made sure we knew where we could watch the game,” said Leonard, who has been following the tournament closely. “It’s been amazing. It’s been a great run for the U.S. So far they did what they had to do.”
John Carroll, who recently bought a house in Traverse City, also was parked at The Yard to catch the games. Carroll doesn’t follow soccer as fervently as some, but he has made sure to catch a lot of the World Cup action, particularly the games the United States is playing.
“I think they’ve been fantastic,” Carroll said of the performance of the U.S. squad. “I don’t think most people gave them this good of a chance. They’re doing well.”
The crowd at The Yard was equaled by the crowd assembled at 7 Monks, where David Walbeck of Brighton was watching to see if the United States could advance to the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 2002.
“We scouted the area here yesterday to make sure we knew a place to go to watch it — a place with plenty of big screens,” said Walbeck, who is on a week-long vacation in the area. Walbeck agrees with the belief that soccer continues to evolve in popularity across the U.S. He became a big fan in the past decade.