VACAVILLE — In a do-or-die situation for the United States men’s soccer team, the beer flowed and the food was devoured as a couple hundred people gathered at Theatre DeVille on Tuesday afternoon to watch the U.S. fall to Belgium 2-1 in the World Cup.
The on-and-off loss of a signal on the high-definition projection screen prevented the crowd from witnessing the first goal scored by Belgium in extra time and sent some to watch the game elsewhere. Others packed into the standing-room-only lobby/bar area that housed a smaller wall-mounted television.
Whether in a small packed area or larger area in front of the projection screen, the adrenaline continued as the game stayed 0-0 before extra time.
Many came just to gather with friends, others came to watch a game somewhere other than their house.
“I wanted to watch the game. I saw a Facebook post,” said Leiann Olloqui, a Vacaville resident, who added that the crowd and the energy of a large gathering prompted her to come out.
“I just wanted to feel that,” she said.
She sat in the upper seating area, watching the projection screen with her husband, Juan Olloqui, a soccer fan since childhood. He called the crowd at DeVille “tame” compared to a Davis locale where he watched the first U.S. World Cup game.
“It was pretty raucous,” he said. “I wanted my wife to feel the vibe of the soccer match.”
Steve Perry, Wendy Ghiringhelli, Donnie Johnson, Tony Fields and Jim Zipp – all Vacaville residents and longtime friends – snagged a large table up front on the bottom floor. They showed up at 11:30 a.m., 30 minutes after the DeVille’s doors opened. They came for lunch, beer, conversation, some World Cup soccer and Perry’s birthday.
“It’s much more exciting when you watch it with a group of people, instead of sitting on your couch,” Ghiringhelli said.
The chorus of head-grabbing “Ohhh’s” echoed and escalated each time the Belgian goalie blocked a potential U.S. goal. On the flip side, the crowd clapped and hollered when U.S. goalie Tim Howard deflected a Belgian attempt to score.
“It’s really awesome of the DeVille Theatre to open such a nice (place) where citizens can get together for a common goal,” Johnson said.
No pun intended, he insisted, laughing.
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.