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Soccer fever heats up in Victoria (w/video)

By Alexandria Alejandro
June 22, 2014 at 1:22 a.m.
Updated June 23, 2014 at 1:23 a.m.

Keaton Warren, 20, of Victoria, cheers with his sister, Rachel Warren, and friend, Victor Garcia, at Buffalo Wild Wings after the USA soccer team scored a goal against Portugal at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

They didn't need a ticket to the hot and humid jungle of Brazil.

Just a comfortable seat, some good food and a big-screen TV.

For these soccer fans who came out in small droves at Buffalo Wild Wings in Victoria, Sunday afternoon was a perfect time to watch the United States take on Portugal as the Americans tried to advance to the Round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup.

Unfortunately for them, Portugal's Silvestre Varela scored on a diving header off star striker Cristiano Ronaldo's cross in the final seconds of the game, forcing a 2-2 tie. With a win, USA would have advanced in the World Cup.

"It was really disappointing," said Keaton Warren, a 20-year-old Victoria resident and soccer fan. "USA played better in the first half."

To be sure of one of Group G's two places in the Round of 16, the Americans will need at least a tie Thursday against powerhouse Germany. They could advance with a loss depending on the outcome of Ghana vs. Portugal, which also will be Thursday.

About 75 fans like Warren made their presence felt Sunday at the restaurant.

They groaned as the Americans fell behind early.

And they cheered as Jermaine Jones' shot to the far post in the 64th minute tied the game. And they yelled even louder when Nacogdoches native Clint Dempsey knocked in a goal off his stomach in the 81st, putting the Americans ahead 2-1.

Warren, a business management and marketing student at University of Houston-Victoria, showed up in red and white face paint, with the letters U-S-A spelled out on one side.

Wearing a paper hat with the letters G-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-A-L-! across the front, his sister, Rachel Warren, 22, of Austin, was the artist.

"I'm a huge soccer fan," added Keaton Warren, who played in youth soccer leagues in Victoria. Rachel played defense for Memorial High School for four years.

"We did this to show support," added Keaton Warren. "Cheering here on American soil for USA is a great American feeling."

Steve Jones, 45, a quality assurance manager, and his son, Quinn, 10, also turned up.

"It'd be really nice if we didn't need to win that game against Germany," the elder Jones said.

Jones, who coached a kids' summer league in Victoria a few years ago, is a fan just like his son.

"It's right up there with the Olympics," he said. "It's one of the only truly worldwide sporting events you can get excited about."

Sunday's game wasn't as exciting for Sjoerd Algera, a 30-year-old Victoria transplant from the Netherlands.

Instead, he's naturally a fan of the Netherlands team, which plays Monday against Chile. Both teams are tied atop Group B.

"This game, I'll root for USA," said the engineer, "only because I don't like Portugal."

Soccer on U.S. soil probably will never mean the same as what it does around the world, but for fans from Victoria like Keaton Warren it still is a big deal.

"Whether they score 10 goals or one goal," he said, "I'll still be their biggest fan from here, no matter what."

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