KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Wednesday was a dramatic day in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and the excitement was felt here in the metro.
Germany, the defending World Cup Champion, was upset by South Korea 2-0, so combined with Sweden’s victory over Mexico, the Swedes and Mexican National teams advance from that group into the round of 16. The Germans, on the other hand, are going home, meaning there’ll be no back-to-back World Cup Champion since Brazil won two straight tournaments in 1958 and 1962.
Matches like these have soccer diehards across the globe pinned to their screens, including footy fanatics here in the Kansas City area, where fans with ties to various nations are lining up for a taste from the World Cup.
Walk inside the offices at Populous, the stadium design and architecture firm at 48th and Main Street, and you’d swear you’d tripped into an elaborate sports bar. The Grandstand is a huge, stadium-like amphitheatre that’s usually used as a meeting and presentation center. During the World Cup, its 1,800 square feet are transformed into a soccer fan’s paradise, as matches are shown on a huge 22 x 12 screen, and company employees gather to watch while they work.
“They should have scored there!” shouted one fan, decked out in the black, red and gold of Germany.
The international intrigue in this office is nearly overwhelming. On Wednesday morning, as many as 25 Populous employees watched several matches as a group, many of them dressed in their favorite squads’ team colors. Katja Kuznik, a German native who attended college in Miami, Florida, cheers loudly and proudly for her native nation’s team.
“For me, it’s the biggest sporting event,” Kuznik told FOX 4 News. “This is amazing. I didn’t think that I would be able to keep up with the games, and still be working. It means a lot to Germans. I grew up watching soccer. I grew up watching with my grandfather.”
Joel Garcia, another Populous employee, hails from Northern California originally, and he celebrates his heritage, since he says his parents came to the United States from Mexico. Garcia says a World Cup Championship for the Mexican soccer club would be mind-blowing for him.
“They just support the sport and soccer is growing here in the States,” Garcia said, praising his employer. “The co-workers getting involved, I feel like it’s not just me who likes the sport, but i get to work with people who like it as well.”
Both Garcia and Kuznik pointed out Populous’ ties to building the Russian stadiums being used for the 2018 World Cup matches.
Meanwhile, across town at the Power and Light District, most everyone took the day off. Hundreds of fans of the Mexican National team gathered to strut their spirit at a watch party produced by radio station La Mega 100.5 FM. That station has organized several watch parties for fans of the Mexican club during this ongoing World Cup. Mexican flags flew proudly, and soccer zealots donned the green, red and white of their favorite players on the pitch.
“We’re going to win it. We’re going to win it. I don’t know who we’re playing yet, but we’re going to win it,” one fan shouted at FOX 4 News’ cameras. “Arriba, Mexico!”
Thursday is the final day of group play in the 2018 World Cup. Pregame coverage begins at 8 a.m. on FOX 4, just before Senegal and Columbia meet up at 9 a.m. That match is followed by England’s clash with Belgium in the afternoon game. FOX 4 News will air at 11 a.m.