World Cup Fever Hits Close to Home

By Leslie Spoon

Published 06/30 2014 06:03PM

Updated 06/30 2014 06:13PM

Every four years the world is captivated by the sport of soccer. When the Fifa World Cup is underway, the increased popularity of the sport leads to an increase in population. That includes here locally in Green Bay.

"I think it's a lot of patriotism as well, people just watch soccer for one month every four years and they just love it. And they get into it and it's just an amazing experience for me to see," said House of Speed soccer instructor Kevin Newbanks, who played professionally in Ireland

"It feels good to help my friends understanding soccer. And to get them into it cause I have friends who want to play soccer because of the world cup, it really interests people," explained 14-year-old soccer player Rachel Philipp.

One of green bay's own, Bay Port Alum Jay DeMerit, represented the United States in the World Cup in 2010 and says the attention the it recieves is well-deserved. The U.S. has now made it to the Round of 16 in consecutive cups. A first for the red, white and blue.

"It just shows the level that the U.S. soccer's starting to get to. When you can get out of your groups consistently throughout world cups, it shows that you have a good team for one and number two to now do that in the second World Cup in a row shows that the consistency is starting to be there so these are all foundations to build on as far as what we're trying to create with soccer in North America and that's to be a sport that everyone cares about and watches and really appreciates," said Jay DeMerit.

Right now it's not hard to find kids who can name names of the United States best players -- and have favorites of their own.  

"Clint Dempsey because he's really good at moves and scoring goals," said 9-year-old soccer player Ethan Smith.  

"It's going to come down to the Tim Howards and the Clint Dempseys to have awesome performances in a game like tomorrow that's really going to sway some of those kids to maybe try harder to be a soccer player or even a soccer fan. And I think everyone on the U.S. team accepts and really enjoys that responsibility," said DeMerit.  

So do these young soccer fans think the US has what it takes to get past Belgium?

"If they just like go out and play their hardest they can probably win. I think they're going to win because of how good they are and they're a good team because of their effort and the skill that they have," predicted Smith.

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