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Goal! Soccer City dials up World Cup frenzy

Local venues hope to attract crowds for global football tourney
by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT, Adidas employees react as Costa Rica plays Germany on the big screen at the Adidas headquarters during the 2006 World Cup. 204 nations are gearing up for the biggest sporting event in the world

Portland is 10,300 miles away from South Africa. But for 31 days, 'Soccer City USA' will be reveling in every game of the World Cup.

The tournament starts Friday, June 11, in South Africa. In all, 204 nations competed for a chance to be in the 32-team tournament. It is by far the biggest sporting event in the world - 715 million people watched the final between Italy and Germany in 2006, which dwarfs Super Bowl viewership.

'This is the final,' says Gerard McAleese, Kells Irish Pub owner and avid soccer fan. 'It's the last 32 teams that play off for a month.'

A few Oregonians have already planned trips to watch the World Cup in person. Wilson High alums Ashkan Abedini and James Norton will try to take in at least three or four matches in South Africa.

'It's just a world event when all these different cultures come together and share a common goal,' says Abedini, a three-year varsity soccer star with the Trojans. 'It's the trip of a lifetime.'

Says Norton, who works on Wall Street, about the cost of the trip: 'I don't know if I want that going in the paper. It's something I've been planning for awhile and obviously saving up for.'

For Portlanders who are not able to travel to South Africa, there are other options.

There is long tradition of watching games in pubs.Many bars around the city will be showing all or most of the games, including Thirsty Lion Pub (71 S.W. Second Ave.), Cheerful Bullpen (1730 S.W. Taylor St.), Marathon Tavern (1735 W. Burnside) and Kells (112 S.W. Second Ave.).

'Everywhere in the world, they watch it in bars,' says McAleese, a Belfast, Northern Ireland native.'There's always a bar or a café for people to go to. People just want to watch it together for love of the game.'

Seeing Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo's ridiculous six-pack abs every time he lifts up his shirt is reason enough for many Portlanders to watch the games on their gym's cardio equipment. Former international player and current Warner Pacific College coach Bernie Fagan plans to catch at least some of the games while working out at the Multnomah Athletic Club.

'(Ronaldo) has good abs, I must admit,' Fagan says. 'I will be (watching games) over the course of the month, for sure.'

No sport is able to bring fans together in such large groups and with such passion as soccer. Portlanders will have two chances to join together to watch the games downtown on big screens.

The Timbers, Oregon Sports Authority, 95.5 The Game and Taow Marketing will be putting on two viewing parties. The first is at 11 a.m., Saturday, June 12, at Director Park as the U.S. takes on England. The second, on July 11 at 11 a.m., at Pioneer Courthouse Square, will show the final.

'The World Cup is truly a one-of-a-kind event with an electricity that extends from the players on the field to the fans in the stadium and to virtually every corner of the world,' says Meyer Freeman, Oregon Sports Authority chief operating officer. 'We want to give people the chance to experience that electricity in downtown Portland.'

Many Americans have shied away from soccer because of the low scores. During the World Cup, though, thousands of Portlanders will not be able to rip their eyes away from the television screen for fear of missing that one precious goal that can make 'the beautiful game' so exciting.

'The fans want to see goals,' Fagan says. 'When a team scores it's like a release of pent-up emotion. It's exhilarating.'

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TUNE IN, TURN ON, DROP KICK

Here's the live television schedule for the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa:

POOL PLAY

• Friday, June 11 - 6:30 a.m., ESPN, South Africa vs. Mexico; 11 a.m., ESPN, Uruguay vs. France

• Saturday, June 12 - 4 a.m., ESPN, South Korea vs. Greece; 6:30 a.m., ESPN, Argentina vs. Nigeria; 11 a.m., ABC, England vs. USA

• Sunday, June 13 - 4 a.m, ESPN, Algeria vs. Slovenia; 6:30 a.m., ESPN, Serbia vs. Ghana; 11 a.m., ABC, Germany vs. Australia

• Monday, June 14 - 4 a.m., Netherlands vs. Denmark; 6:30 a.m., ESPN, Japan vs. Cameroon; 11 a.m., ESPN, Italy vs. Paraguay

• Tuesday, June 15 - 4 a.m., ESPN, New Zealand vs. Slovakia; 6:30 a.m., ESPN, Ivory Coast vs. Portugal; 11 a.m., ESPN, Brazil vs. North Korea

• Wednesday, June 16 - 4 a.m., ESPN, Honduras vs. Chile; 6:30 a.m., ESPN, Spain vs. Switzerland; 11 a.m., ESPN, South Africa vs. Uruguay

• Thursday, June 17 - 4 a.m., ESPN, Argentina vs. South Korea; 6:30 a.m., ESPN, Greece vs. Nigeria; 11 a.m., ESPN2, France vs. Mexico

• Friday, June 18 - 4 a.m., ESPN, Germany vs. Serbia; 6:30 a.m., ESPN, Slovenia vs. USA; 11 a.m., ESPN2, England vs. Algeria

• Saturday, June 19 - 4 a.m., ESPN, Netherlands vs. Japan; 6:30 a.m., ESPN, Ghana vs. Australia; 11 a.m., ABC, Cameroon vs. Denmark

• Sunday, June 20 - 4 a.m., ESPN, Slovakia vs. Paraguay; 6:30 a.m., ESPN, Italy vs. New Zealand; 11 a.m., ABC, Brazil vs. Ivory Coast

• Monday, June 21 - 4 a.m., ESPN, Portugal vs. North Korea; 6:30 a.m., ESPN, Chile vs. Switzerland; 11 a.m., ESPN, Spain vs. Honduras

• Tuesday, June 22 - 6:30 a.m., ESPN, Mexico vs. Uruguay; 6:30 a.m., ESPN2, France vs. South Africa; 11 a.m., ESPN2, Nigeria vs. South Korea; 11 a.m., ESPN, Greece vs. Argentina

• Wednesday, June 23 - 6:30 a.m., ESPN2, Slovenia vs. England; 6:30 a.m., ESPN, USA vs. Algeria; 11 a.m., ESPN, Ghana vs. Germany; 11 a.m., ESPN2, Australia vs. Serbia

• Thursday, June 24 - 6:30 a.m., ESPN, Slovakia vs. Italy; 6:30 a.m., ESPN2, Paraguay vs. New Zealand; 11 a.m., ESPN, Denmark vs. Japan; 11 a.m., ESPN2, Cameroon vs. Netherlands

• Friday, June 25 - 6:30 a.m., ESPN, Portugal vs. Brazil; 6:30 a.m., ESPN2, Ivory Coast vs. North Korea; 11 a.m., ESPN, Chile vs. Spain; 11 a.m., ESPN2, Switzerland vs. Honduras

ROUND OF 16

• Saturday, June 26 - 6:30 a.m., ESPN; 11 a.m., ABC

• Sunday, June 27 - 6:30 a.m., ESPN; 11 a.m., ABC

• Monday, June 28 - 6:30 a.m., ESPN; 11 a.m., ESPN

• Tuesday, June 29 - 6:30 a.m., ESPN; 11 a.m., ESPN

QUARTERFINALS

• Friday, July 2 - 6:30 a.m., ESPN; 11 a.m., ESPN

• Saturday, July 3 - 6:30 a.m., ABC; 11 a.m., ABC

SEMIFINALS

• Tuesday, July 6 - 11 a.m., ESPN

• Wednesday, July 7 - 11 a.m., ESPN

THIRD-PLACE MATCH

• Saturday, July 10 - 11 a.m, ABC

TITLE MATCH

• Sunday, July 11 - 10:30 a.m., ABC