World Cup party at Lexington's West Sixth Brewing packs the house with rowdy crowd

jclay@herald-leader.comJune 22, 2014 

It was a hot, sweaty and rowdy crowd inside a Lexington bar Sunday night, gazing at the big screen and living and dying with the home team in a major sporting event.

This wasn't for a Kentucky basketball game.

This was for a U.S. soccer game.

This was for the World Cup, which surely grabbed the Sunday night attention of homes and bars and restaurants and computer screens across America as #onenationoneteam joined together to watch the United States men's national team play Portugal in Brazil.

It was no different at West Sixth Brewing, where a packed house of primarily young people came to pledge their allegiance to the flag, partake of an American tradition that is craft beer, and boo the heck out of Portugal prima donna Cristiano Ronaldo.

They had been rocking and rolling at West Sixth last Monday when the U.S. scored a late goal to shock Ghana 2-1 in the Americans' first game in the 2014 World Cup.

"We had more people here Monday than we had for the Final Four," co-owner Brady Barlow said as he stood by the door Sunday welcoming patrons. "I just happened to be in Madrid four years ago when the World Cup was going on, and I think the crowd we had here in Lexington rivals what they had there. It was just an amazing atmosphere."

Credit for that atmosphere went to a group of soccer fanatics known as the American Outlaws who put together the World Cup viewing party.

"We started it up last June before the Gold Cup," said Evan Woolums, 30, the Lexington president of American Outlaws, which has 100 or so chapters across the country. "We sent some things out to some bars and restaurants in town about having World Cup watch parties, and West Sixth was the first one to respond, so we're here.

"We got the word out about what we were doing through Facebook and word of mouth and things like that, and we couldn't be happier with the turnout."

What was Monday like?

"It was wild," Woolums said. "Wild."

Sunday night was wild, too, and crowded. In addition to its televisions in the main bar room, West Sixth projected a larger TV picture onto the wall in the main dining room, which had many of its tables removed so more people could stand.

They didn't just stand, however. They chanted "U-S-A, U-S-A." They sang the national anthem full throat. They chanted "I believe, I believe, I believe that we will win." They wore Clint Dempsey jerseys and Jozy Altidore jerseys, and I even saw a kid in a Landon Donovan jersey.

And, oh yeah, they drank beer.

By halftime, with the U.S. down 1-0, they were disappointed but not dispirited. They cranked up the "I believe that we will win" chants again and seemed to work with all their collective might to will a United States ball to find the inside of the Portugal net.

Finally, in the 64th minute, that is exactly what happened. The West Sixth crowd went mosh pit, jumping and screaming in celebration.

Then in the 81st minute, it happened again for a 2-1 U.S. lead. There was pandemonium followed by the sensation of beer being spilled on you from glasses tipped by happy hands.

As the running clock ticked on — admittedly, some in attendance needed an explanation of stoppage time — you could start to see people holding up their phones to video the very moment of American victory.

And then, in the final minute, Portugal scored.

Those watching inside that Brazil stadium could not have been any more stunned than those watching it on a wall at West Sixth Brewery in Lexington, Ky.

For a few minutes, most of the West Sixth crowd just stood there in disbelief, and then, finally, some started to make their way out the door and into the night.

The others apparently needed some help in dealing with the shock.

They went back to the bar to get more beer.

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Email: jclay@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com.

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