AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) – The bald man came head-to-head with the spirit of America. There are red, white, blue, stars and stripes stripes with mismatched socks, shorts and maybe a bathing suit just right for a summer barbecue.
Philip Labas wore an outfit that would make the US men’s soccer team proud on Saturday as he headed into the 18th game of his first World Cup trip. He is one of the American Outlaws, the team’s official team, and they gather under the Aspire Tower to walk as a group to their seats inside Khalifa International Stadium.
Rapa’s job is to set fire to the crowd. He sang and danced with the friends he had picked up during his years supporting American football, and when the men’s team reached the round of 16, Labas was the main cheerleader. sing for them.
The unemployed Chicago resident is currently looking for cybersecurity jobs while living in Doha, but he’s more than happy to sing “USA!” and “When the Yanks Come Marching In” for all American fans. Even before the Netherlands’ 3-1 victory ended the team’s run at the World Cup, Labas has extended his stay until next week because he knows the United States will beat the Dutch.
American audiences tuned in to America’s first three games in record numbers to watch the second team for the World Cup, a team that for two weeks helped unite a fractured nation.
“Their spirit, their energy, their strength, the friendship they show for each other, and in the grand scheme of things, they are great people,” Labas said. “One direction, one purpose, they’re all pulling for each other, and I think they’re all going to run into the wall for each other.
“And that’s America, right?” Labas said. “Different situations, different people coming together for the same purpose, that’s one of the things that binds this team together. I mean, two guys from different parts of Florida, one guy from Minneapolis, I’m from Chicago, and we’re living together in Qatar. We’ve spent the last 2½ weeks together just loving life and loving this team.”
The crowd that accompanied Labas into the stadium included U.S. soldiers from Al Udeid Air Force Base, a young couple from Texas, a couple from Redwood City, California, and a woman from Uganda. now in Qatar. Loved soccer but was loved by the American team.
“I got tickets to come to the game and I’m so happy,” said Mastula Kyongo, wearing a bright red headband, an official Team USA shirt and a scarf emblazoned with the American flag. on his shoulders. “They have a young, beautiful team and I love everything about them.”
The U.S. didn’t qualify for the World Cup four years ago, so most of its 26-man squad has yet to take on American pride. They received messages from their former homes, learned about breaks in class so students could watch their matches, and saw social media posts from fan groups around the United States.
“The support has been amazing. The amount of people that have come to me before this event, at these games,” said American captain Tyler Adams after the loss to the Netherlands. possible without the international support of our American fans, the American fans who went all this way, the American fans who came back home. I hope we gave you something to be excited about moving forward.
Heather Holland and Alejandro Szenkier traveled to Doha from Dallas to fulfill Szenkier’s lifelong dream of going to the World Cup. He’s from Uruguay, and because of the ease of this World Cup they were able to go, see two matches a day, and cheer for America.
Szenkier wore the American flag as the decoration of the Arabian Gulf and with his insistence and the win of Christian Pulisic, the United States is developing as a team that will compete on the world football stage.
“He’s probably the best US player in history,” Szenkier said. “This will be a great team four years from now and will help develop the next generation of American soccer.”
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