With the 2010 World Cup kicking off tomorrow as host nation South Africa takes on Mexico at 10am (EST) at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, it’s time we explored local venue standouts for watching this four week long, footie, action packed tournament.
When contemplating your location it’s important to first think about the type of environment and fellow watchers you want to be around. While some people like being boisterous with cheering and audience packed commentary throughout the match, there are also those who prefer to watch the game in relative silence, quietly sipping on their pints and internally banging their heads on the wall when mistakes are made.
Whatever environment you chose, you’re sure to have a good time watching the game with fellow soccer lovers who share your enthusiasm (however that may be expressed) for the sport. Just be sure that however your team makes out, you’re a graceful winner or loser. Now on to prime viewing spots.If you’ve ever watched a World Cup game in Europe, you’ll know that watching outside, in a public space with hundreds, if not thousands, of fellow fans is a common/must-do experience. So I suggest catching one of the three June 12, 1st round matches (South Korea v Greece, 7:30am kickoff, Argentina v Nigeria, 10am kickoff, and USA v England, 2:30pm kickoff) that will be shown on two big screens inside Dupont Circle park. FYI as “Soccer in the Circle” takes place in a National Park, no alcohol is allowed, but since the games are on so early instead hit up Firehook Bakery, grab a pastry and a coffee and settle in for some solid outside footie viewing. As a bonus, you may also catch a special guest appearance by US Soccer legend Eddie Pope. Also, if you see an event organizer, be sure to hand them a few bucks, as they’re trying to raise money to show the FINAL match on Sunday, July 11 on the big screens.
Watching a match at an Irish or English pub is a classic viewing option, and in DC, VA and MD you have plenty of options. What’s additionally fantastic about pub watching is the traditional breakfast of blood sausage, eggs, potatoes, fried tomatoes, bacon, etc. that you can enjoy with your early morning pint or coffee. In DC, Fado Irish Pub at Chinatown is a solid choice, as is Cleveland Park’s Ireland’s Four Provinces. In Maryland, check out RiRa or Union Jack’s in Bethesda or McGinty’s in Silver Spring. In Virginia, Ireland’s Four Courts in Courthouse is sure to draw solid soccer-loving and patriotic crowds or there’s Old Town’s Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub.
Of course, heading to a sports bar is always another option. You can grab your last, ridiculously expensive meal at the DC ESPN Zone before the franchise shutters next week. Or swing by Dupont Circle’s Public Bar to watch both the games and highlights on one of their bijillion flat screen TVs. There’s also Chinatown-Gallery Place’s Green Turtle and, if you’re just about the beer, hit up Iron Horse for a tasty assortment of drafts. If the weather’s nice, see if you can grab a spot on Cleveland Park Bar & Grill‘s deck or hit up their seated area or bar.
There’s also the option of going to non-traditional watching venues. Bar Dupont, located in the Dupont Hotel, will be broadcasting live each and every game and offer Happy Hour specials featuring South African white and red wines and Amarula specials. For the quarter, semi and finals, the restaurant will host a special BBQ on the patio. The Mayflower Renaissance Hotel is offering deep, relaxing couches and the opportunity to catch games on their mezzanine above the bustle of their ornate marble lobby. Ethiopian restaurant, Dukem, is soccer mad and will show matches on their 8 x 10 projection TV. Here you can also partake in some fine African beer happy hour specials in celebration of the first World Cup to be played on African soil.
DC United and its bar partners will also be out in force and have organized group viewing parties. They’ll be on hand at BlackFinn, Pour House, and, previously mentioned, Soccer in the Circle and Fado Irish Pub on Saturday. Team representatives will be conducting giveaways including adidas World Cup 2010 Jabulani Official match balls, World Cup mini-balls, D.C. United match tickets, D.C. United merchandise and more.
Ultimately, it doesn’t particularly matter where you go to watch the games. All that’s required is a big ass TV, comfortable seats, food and beverage to suit your tastes, solid viewing compatriots, and an atmosphere of your liking. Once you’ve got those items in order, the rest is up to the players on the pitch. USA! USA! USA!