Wearing a sparkly Uncle Sam hat and with the Stars and Stripes draped over his shoulders, Brian Fuqua was among the American fans strolling through The Pelourinho, the historic center of Salvador, about six hours before the United States played Belgium in the World Cup on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old from Denver arrived last month before the Americans’ opener against Ghana in Natal to follow the team around Brazil. Despite the tough first-round group that included Portugal and Germany, he bought tickets for the second-round match in Salvador before leaving home.
“I was hopeful and optimistic. I thought maybe we had like a 25 percent, 30 percent chance to get out,” he said. “I like Brazil a lot. I’m actually going home on July 17, and I was going to stay no matter what.”
If the U.S. had finished first in Group H, the Americans would have skipped Salvador and played Algeria on Saturday in Porto Alegre.
“Had they won the group, I would have looked at the cost to get to Porto Alegre,” he said.
American fans in red, white and blue seemed to outnumber red-clad Belgium supporters by about 3 to 1.
Jeremy Rambo, a 27-year-old originally from Laramie, Wyoming, has attended the Americans’ first-round games in the northeast Brazilian cities of Natal and Recife. He bought his first-round tickets on FIFA’s website and Tuesday’s through the American Outlaws supporters group
He plans to stick around for the rest of the tournament.
“If they make it, I might have to go to Brasilia,” he said, looking ahead to a potential quarterfinal.
Reprinted with permission of the Associated Press.