Local soccer fans become early risers to support U.S. team

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It was a scene similar to a Sunday afternoon gathering to watch a Broncos game; standing room only, tension in the air, loud cheering for the home team and booing the opponents. Yet, it was 5 a.m., the sun was just peeking in on Craig and the couch potatoes were watching the world's version of "football."

"There were a lot of people probably watching in town," said Mick Havrilla, the newly appointed Moffat County High School soccer coach. "The sport has definitely gained popularity since I've been here."

At the home of Jeff Hammond the morning's caffeine was just starting to take affect when the final seconds ticked out from Germany's 1-0 victory over the U.S.

"I'm proud of how well the team has done," said Hammond. "It has been exciting to watch and encouraging for the future of U.S. soccer."

Bill Sawer, who has attended four World Cup events, said the increasing interest in soccer in the U.S. depends on the four years between the Cup.

"Everybody talks about how much interest World Cup '94, when it was in America, caused in the country," Sawer said. "But it seems like between each four years interest falls off. America still doesn't have as much of the passion for the sport as the rest of the world."

This morning a living room on Breeze Street was full of soccer passion. Hammond and his children Schuyler,14, and Michelle,10, shared their television with Havrilla, Sawer, Rich Thompson and his son, Derek, 16.

Maybe they didn't go to the lengths of fans in European countries, where laws have been passed to allow pubs to be open in the morning, but they were there, watching faithfully.

"Soccer is becoming more accepted as mainstream," said Havrilla. "It is nice to have people to watch with no matter what time in the morning."

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