East County soccer fans get a kick out of the World Cup

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: LISA K. ANDERSON - Father-son duo Cody and Gil Fitzpatrick have bonded over World Cup soccer games the past couple weeks. Both call the sport unifying.

Father and son Gil and Cody Fitzpatrick of Troutdale sat at the edge of their seats at Skyland Pub Tuesday, swept up in World Cup fever.

“This game is gut wrenching!” Cody said. “The goalie (Tim Howard) is crazy right now.”

After Howard's 16 saves in Tuesday's game, fans declared he should become the new Secretary of Defense.

Though Belgium eked out a 2-1 win over the U.S. in Tuesday’s game, East County soccer fans said they were proud of their home team for making it to the Round of 16.

Fans such as the Fitzpatricks planned to watch through the world championship tournament, which concludes July 13.

Cody said he found soccer refreshing as a sports fan — that the sport seemed more about the passion than the big paychecks or egos.

He's been known to don over-the-top red, white and blue costumes in support of team USA.

“I don’t think I’d ever seen such sportsmanship in a sport until I watched soccer,” Cody said. “It’s one of those few sports that gets the whole world involved.”

Added Gil, whose son got him into the sport, “It’s becoming more and more of a unity thing. I’m caught up in the fever."

Across town, sports fans converged at Wood Village’s Buffalo Wild Wings Tuesday, July 1, filling every parking spot and table.

Gathered over beers and pub fare, fans welcomed a break from work and an opportunity to sit in air conditioning on the sweltering summer day.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: LISA K. ANDERSON - Jeanie Hodge and Marc-Ernst Laguerre met in Haiti several years ago during a medical trip. Now the friends are reunited, with Laguerre attending Mt. Hood Community College. They've been watching World Cup games together at East County spots.

In the spirit of soccer, Buffalo Wild Wings created its own World Cup trophy and handed out soccer crowns to kids that read "futbolista," "red card" and "goooal!"

Erin Meyers of Gresham said her lunch break was conveniently synched up with the World Cup game.

Though she hadn't played soccer since she was in high school, watching games on the huge TVs revived her love of the game.

Gresham residents Chris, Josh and Doug Fuller and Kylee Humphreys said they usually watched games with family and friends at home but came out for the sporting atmosphere.

A table away, friends Jeanie Hodge and Marc-Ernst Laguerre of Portland gathered to watch a World Cup game for the third time.

The friends first met in Haiti when Hodge was working as a nurse on a medical trip and Laguerre served as an interpreter.

Hodge works as a nurse at Oregon Health & Science University, and Laguerre moved to the U.S. six months ago, recently starting general education classes at Mt. Hood Community College with the goal of entering nursing school.

“Sometimes we support the same team, and sometimes we’re rooting against each other,” Hodge said with a laugh. “There’s this nice sense of international community right now.”

As a Taekwondo student, Hodge recalled seeing a Nelson Mandela quote about sports that has continued to resonate with her.

“Sport has the power to change the world,” Mandela said. “It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.”

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