THERE ARE FEW EVENTS—sporting or otherwise—that can galvanize entire countries like the World Cup. Some might argue the Olympics, with its thrilling spectacle of athletic prowess, national pride, and individual stories are a close equivalent. Indeed, soccer shares many of the same characteristics, but it's also an incredibly easy game to understand and, at its basic level, easy to play. Finding a ball, some open space, and some people who want to run around kicking it is pretty simple when compared to getting a horse to jump over hedges, throwing a really heavy ball, or waiting for enough snow to ski. It's precisely this easy access point that makes it ripe to be widely followed—and played—by so many different countries, cultures, and traditions.
So when you gather the world's best and pit them against each other for four weeks every four years, people are bound to want to watch what happens. And when I say people, I mean close to 715 million people. Portland, being Soccer City, USA, is no different. Below are a few places to catch all the action.
Time zones being what they are, Portland is nine hours behind South Africa. This means that many of the first-round games begin at 4:30 am. So load up on your coffee and set your alarm. The 2010 World Cup starts Friday, June 11.
USA vs. England AND new Portland Timbers Crest Unveiling
Sat June 12, Director Park, SW Taylor & Park, 11 am
While the tournament kicks off with South Africa vs. Mexico on Friday, Saturday is the first match for the US, as they take on their old Revolutionary War foe, England. Oregon Sports Authority and the Portland Timbers have teamed up to show this match outdoors at Director Park on a massive 12-by-17-foot LED screen. In addition, the Timbers plan to unveil their brand-new Major League Soccer team crest at halftime of the match. Check out facebook.com/portlandtimbers for some excellent teaser videos of the forthcoming crest.
World Cup Final
Sun July 11, Pioneer Courthouse Square, SW 6th & Morrison, 11 am
The World Cup final will be broadcast in Pioneer Courthouse Square on Sunday, July 11, on a 17-by-23-foot screen. I watched the final between Italy and France four years ago in the square and there were thousands of people packed in tight who all audibly gasped when Zidane headbutted Materazzi. It's a terrific venue.
EARLY-BIRD PUBS SHOWING EVERY GAME (EVEN THE 4:30 AM ONES)
Kells Irish Pub
112 SW 2nd, 227-4057, kellsirish.com
One of only three official US Soccer Federation bars on the West Coast.
Slim's Cocktail Bar
8635 N Lombard, 286-3854, myspace.com/slimspdx
71 SW 2nd, 222-2155, thirstylionpub.com
OTHER WORLD CUP VENUES
Cheerful Bullpen 1730 SW Taylor, 222-3063, cheerfulgrills.com
Open for all 7 am games and on. (Cheerful Tortoise at PSU is open too.)
Prost! 4237 N Mississippi, 954-2674
Showing all US and Germany games except Germany's June 18 match vs. Serbia (4:30 am is too early for them).
Rose & Thistle 2314 NE Broadway, 287-8582
Showing most games starting at 7 am. Call for details.
Futsal 3401 SE 17th, 238-8725, portlandfutsal.com
For a viewing experience that's more active than just lifting a pint, check out indoor soccer arena Portland Futsal. They're showing select early morning matches in their HD viewing lounges along with open play on all their indoor futsal courts. All ages welcome. Ten bucks gets you in to watch and play from 6:30 am 'til 2:30 pm. Check website for dates and details.
Check blogtown.portlandmercury.com for more updates on World Cup highlights, culture, and ephemera, as well as regular weekly Timbers updates!