Have a ball
While I wouldn’t consider myself an avid sports fan, even I’m disappointed the U.S. didn’t qualify for the World Cup this year. Much like during the Olympics, it’s always fun to cheer for America when we’re competing on a global scale, and the camaraderie is nowhere more apparent than in our nation’s bars and pubs. Still, to diehard footy fans the tournament presses on, so I stopped by Ole Bridge Pub over the weekend, the only official soccer bar I know of in Reno, to find some of that World Cup spirit.
“We’re actually the Reno chapter for the American Outlaws, which is the support group for the U.S. team,” said bartender Aaron Workman. “They made it official during the world cup four years ago, and then once Reno 1868 came in to play, they came to us for sponsorship and stuff.”
Workman has been a bartender at Ole Bridge for five years now and remembers serving a packed house during the U.S. Team’s matches in the 2014 World Cup. With the international time-change setting the game schedule, sometimes he would arrive at 8 a.m. to open the bar to an eager crowd. Things have been a little quieter this year, but teams with large followings still draw supporters.
Last Saturday at 11 a.m., for instance, I joined a modest but enthusiastic contingency of local Team Germany fans taking advantage of the drink specials offered during every World Cup match.
“We do two dollars off Tahoe cans,” Workman said. “They’re normally four bucks so that’s half off. We get two dollars off of Carlsberg and Outlaw Milk Stout from Great Basin Brewing Co., so that makes those a little cheaper as well.”
Carlsberg is an imported lager and a traditional football favorite for many European fans, and the Outlaw Milk Stout is offered for its eponymous association to the American Outlaws. I went with the Tahoe blonde, a golden-yellow ale to which I added a lemon wedge in the spirit of summer morning drinking.
Across the bar, I spotted a group of men—one wearing a German jersey—watching the match with rapt attention, erupting with cheers as Germany tied Sweden one-to-one at the half. The man in the jersey, Danny Hopper, told me Ole Bridge’s special considerations make it an ideal place to really get into the game.
“Last World Cup we came here,” Hopper said. “This is one of the few bars that actually plays it on the audio too. A lot of places, they don’t care about the actual audio.”
Both Hopper and his younger brother Ian keep up with the German and international leagues as much as they can and are looking forward to the prospect of America hosting the cup in 2026.
Paul Diflo, another member of their group, told me he was happy to be there supporting Germany but didn’t have much of an interest in soccer beyond the watch parties.
“I have baseball, basketball, running, bowling, darts—and soccer would be way down at the bottom,” said Diflo about his hierarchy of sports fandom.
We all cheered Germany’s goal attempts and lamented their misses together, with people like the Hoppers cheering for their heritage, and people like Diflo and myself cheering more for the beer. That’s the thing about the World Cup—there’s something in it for everyone.