U.S. World Cup fans ride roller-coaster victory at Grant Park
BY BRIAN SANDALOW For Sun-Times Media June 16, 2014 11:05PM
(From left) Brad Hickman, 16, and Barrett Shutt, 18, cheer for the US Men's National Team at a World Cup viewing party at Grant Park on Monday, June 16, 2014. | Chandler West/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 18, 2014 6:30AM
As Brad Romig left Grant Park on Monday night, he could barely talk. Clad in U.S. national-team garb, Romig walked away from the viewing area elated and relieved but tired and feeling like he had just exited a roller coaster.
And he’d do it again.
“It was crazy,” said Romig, who lives in Antioch. “I don’t have a voice left, but it was worth it.”
Romig was one of the thousands of fans who watched the United States’ dramatic 2-1 victory over Ghana on a big screen at the south end of Grant Park. The fans cheered when Clint Dempsey scored to give the United States the lead and groaned when U.S. player after player came up lame as the precarious lead held.
When Ghana threatened, the crowd quieted. An occasional “USA! USA!” cheer went up, but the fans seemed to expect Ghana’s 82nd-minute equalizer to be the start of an eventual gut-wrenching defeat. It wasn’t, and John Brooks’ goal four minutes later brought bedlam, as did the final whistle.
Beyond the result, Wicker Park’s Andy Lucci saw the event as something more. He saw a diverse crowd watching an emerging game, united behind the nation’s team. That sight clearly meant something to the Pittsburgh native.
“It’s a communal experience,’’ Lucci said. ‘‘It’s a different background of people here. I see guys wearing Mexico hats and Brazil shirts. It’s just a good environment. I never thought I’d be in a city that has this kind of affinity for people to just get together and watch a game on a huge screen overlooking the most beautiful skyline in the United States.”
There were even some Ghana supporters watching, and according to one, they were welcomed warmly — except for some playful banter.
“Not hassled, just like joking-wise, ‘Ghana sucks. You’re Ghana lose,’ ” Elgin’s Chantille Owusu said before the game. “Stuff like that. I paid no mind. I let my Black Stars do the talking.”
He came to the party with a Ghana flag and wearing a Ghana jersey.
“That’s why we came out here, to be with the masses because it’s exciting when you can enjoy it with the other fans,” Romig said. “My heart was beating.”