World Cup watch party held for students
Avery Martin – Contributor
The United States men’s national soccer team beat Iran 1-0 in an exciting game to advance to the round of 16 in the World Cup on Tuesday. To watch the match play out, the Southern Office of Student Involvement held a watch party for students to attend.
Held in the Student Center theatre, the event gave students a chance to have a slice of pizza while watching soccer’s biggest event. Fans and newcomers alike had the chance to win a US men’s national team jersey and learn facts about countries participating in the World Cup via a pamphlet handed out upon entry.
Taking place in the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar this year, the FIFA World Cup occurs every four years and features the national teams of 32 nations. Some of the game’s biggest stars, such as Christiano Renaldo, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe are taking the field with their homelands to compete for soccer’s most important prize.
At halftime, Spanish major Marcelo Morales, a freshman, said, “The game has so far been interesting. The Americans have a chance to win. This is a must-win game.” Morales also noted that the game was crucial because it was direct elimination for the loser.
Morales, an avid soccer fan, attended the event with his friend, Math education major Joseph Cortez, a junior. The watch party was an opportunity for the two to spend time together while watching the sport they enjoy. Both were excited to see the USA advance but had differing predictions as to which country will come out victorious over all the others.
“There’s plenty of amazing teams out there, but I’m thinking that the Netherlands will take the World Cup,” said Morales. Cortez disagreed, saying, “I love the US, but I think that the Brazil team will win the final.”
Morales and Cortez have both been watching the World Cup and follow soccer- related news. “I watch it, like everyday,” Morales said, referring to the sport. Cortez felt similarly.
Also present to watch the do-or-die game was Psychology major Eli Jeantilus, a sophomore. Not usually a soccer fan, Jeantilus, who played the sport as a child, tagged along with friends. “This match is so crazy because of political reasons. That’s why I’m interested,” Jeantilus said during the second quarter.
Recent geopolitical events have put Tuesday’s game in Qatar under an intense spotlight. Much to the delight of Southern students, however, the players from Team USA were able to play well despite the pressure. “It would be crazy if Iran won with what’s going on with politics, but the US just needs to be more aggressive with the ball,” said Jeantilus.
The one goal that took the team to victory was scored by midfielder Christian Pulisic. The Student Center theater erupted in cheers when the goal went in during the first half of the game.
There was a wide range of students with soccer experience present. Some, like Information Management and Services major Alayna-Sofia Woodhams, a junior, are enthusiastic fans. “I really like soccer. Of all the sports, it is one of my favorites to watch. I want the US to win this game because it would be cool to see them go far as such a young team,” said Woodhams.
The US national team has an average age of just 25 years old, making them the second youngest team playing this year behind Ghana. It has been noted that this is America’s first Generation Z World Cup team.
For psychology major Gary Parrino, a freshman, this was the first opportunity to watch a soccer game. “I don’t really watch sports, but I came with my friends are there is free pizza,” he said at halftime.
When asked what teams students were rooting for in the Championship overall, there was a number of different responses. “I’m Portuguese, so hopefully Portugal will win,” Woodhams said. Others, like Parrino, were hoping for a US victory. “I hope the US wins,” said Parrino.
Ultimately, much like the match played by Team USA, the watch party was a success. Students were hopeful that more would come due to the team’s advance to the round of 16.