Where to watch the World Cup in Philadelphia?
Philadelphia was a hot bed for soccer well before we had a supporters group well before we had a club. Recently, we gave the US national team a world class send-off via Philly’s greatest soccer turnout ever- some 55,000 plus who were on hand for the best game The Linc has seen in some time. And the city is peppered with corner pubs and neighborhood fixtures where die-hard fans have gathered to follow team USA’s two year trek through qualifying, as well as the European leagues many home grown fans fervently follow.
Of course, ever burgeoning like a sun-going supernova has been our excitement for the World Cup, well before our meteoric expectations for Philadelphia Union were met with that epic win in the home opener.
To that end, we lay out the best places to watch the greatest sporting event the world has to offer, whether you’re newly enthralled, an overseas transplant from a fútbol-mad country, or even someone just drawn in by the peaceful play on hundreds of years of history.
In addition to all the essentials and the extravagant extras anyone is pulling out, we’ve also pulled football wisdom from the owners, managers, and bartenders who will be your new best friends/parents/significant others (not in a weird way) over the next month. Get to know them and their respective venues. Pick one. Pick several. Just be sure to leave a note on your fridge concerning your whereabouts.
15th and Locust
Soccer-mad hotspot the year round, Eagles fans are routinely put on edge when they come in on the tails of a blitz of EPL games that has people dashing or zombie walking in well before 75% of the city is awake. Sure, you’ll run into plastic fans here, but thankfully, several of the many British expats- Pistols FC, we’re talking about you- or just plain sensible people that frequent have no worries about lobbing a, ‘oh, fuck off,’ towards their half-assed chants, and they’re certain not to show en masse for anything but the big matches.
Besides being top notch, most of the staff are also fervent supporters themselves, with strong ties- many with a brogue back from Liverpool- shining through as they take the piss out of you as you grab a pint, or simply dive into the intricacies of the beautiful game.
Cancel. Your. Saturday. Why? Because they’re shutting down a good stretch of Locust, that’s why, with a block party running from 15th to S. Sydenham St (that side street just past Misconduct). A 24-foot TV will be placed against their Locust St. facade and a smaller, still sizeable 50’’ screen will show the action on their 15th St patio. Should you not like to drink and be merry outside- Fado’s outdoor bar will be accompanied by that of their cross street neighbor’s, Misconduct, who will be showing all the games inside, while offering a bar and barbeque of brats and burgers outside- Fado’s many flats screens and various seating sections await, not to mention those of their aforementioned neighbor.
Fado will offer breakfast and sandwich deals paired with pints of Harp, Stella, Newcastle, or- ahem– red bull, that basically equates to a free pint; i.e. the vegan friendly and uber healthy Irish breakfast- blood sausage et al- goes for it’s usual price while bringing along a frothy friend to help you yell at the ref inside their many flatscreens. In conjunction with Philly Beer Week- yes, worlds can collide- Misconduct will impel fans to vote by choosing which sidewalk perched keg to empty first in a race between Harpoon Summer Ale and P.B.C. Kenzinger. Fado staple band, The Interns, will play before and after the USA match.
Tim Killeen, General Manager, Fado:
As we are the year round with any match, we’re open to families. We want everybody to enjoy it.
This is my second World Cup with Fado. It is way bigger hype this time, probably due to The Union. Being from Philly, it’s great seeing the passion take off even further. The USA v Turkey game was a great jumping off point. I think we have a phenomenal team with Dempsey, Donovan and a solid keeper in Tim Howard. As far as our first match against England, I think with injuries we may have the chance to upset things, to do better than expectations. It’s the legs, the pace I’m worried about. As long as they stay active and give support in midfield, and refrain from backing away from the ball in their third, I think we’ll do pretty well.
Chris Markham, owner, Misconduct:
I’m a sailor first and foremost. I won’t catch a Union game, but I’ll follow it here and there. I’ll be in Bermuda when it’s in full swing. It will be great to see the atmosphere, the passion, just like what I get to see when I stop in Fado during the year.
718 South St.
Once there was Ludwig’s, where 8 years ago, crowds watched from the street and sidewalk in the early a.m. as Germany roared through to the finals before losing to Brazil. Now, Doug and Kelly Hager’s spot-on München style beer hall, rife with convivial din, drindl’s, and enough beers to teach your taste buds a variety of dialects from the homeland, is the place for all things black, red, and gold. To the multiple tvs, four flatscreens will be added- including one over the entrance and one upstairs in the cozy mezzanine- so that there’s not a bad seat in the house. Contrary to some recent Champions League showings, the sound will be turned up, which should make for a mad buzz, since the gleeful intensity of the crowd on weekends and during their Bundesliga showings is sure to be exponentially cranked up. To paraphrase Philly’s greatest band, and give a shout out to Germany’s hero, I just have to say that “all bets are off like my last name was Hasselhoff.” As with pretty much any place on this list, arrive early or you’ll be reenacting sidewalk viewing at the now defunct Ludwig’s.
They’ll be opening a ½ hour early for all games; an 1 hour early for big matches, such as Friday’s opener between El Tri and Bafana Bafana (if you just had a WTF?! moment, you need to see our preview, here). $3 Spaten Lager and $4 Franziskaner and Warsteiner will be offered during every match. Purchase a Warsteiner during the first 3 Germany matches and you get a cadmium free beautifully etched glass featuring action inspired from each third of the field- keep filling it until you can pretend it’s that championship trophy you never won in little league. A German and Bavarian breakfast will be offered; the former offers weißwurst and a Bavarian pretzel to be smothered with Brauhaus’ dark, sugary brown mustard, and paired, per Doug’s advice, with the rich flavor of a Franziskaner; the latter features buttered rolls, liverwurst, hardboiled egg, nutella, and coldcuts: ham, cheese, and salami.
Each visit gets you a raffle ticket, which could win you an assortment of goodies: the team scarves up on the wall as teams are knocked out, along with glassware, various bobbles, and the chance- breathe– to win Braushaus Schmitz regular status that includes, 1 drink a day for a year and your name engraved on a plaque by the bar, as well as your own personal ass dais. And no, you can’t jump off the wagon and cash in two week’s worth of sobriety in one night.
Doug Hager, owner, FC Koln, Union, Phillies supporter:
I’m following Germany before the USA since I think they have a better chance and they’re playing at a higher level. They should start well but it could get harrier for them pretty quickly once they got of the group stages.
Hopefully the USA can beat England. For them to get anywhere they probably have to pull the upset, since even a draw would likely mean England wins the group and the US ends up facing Germany in the first round of knockouts.
[Quickly scanning the bracket in between hanging up national team scarves] Can South Korea and North Korea play each other? That would be awesome. Spain and Brazil are the sexy picks, of course. I’d pick Germany, but I don’t want to jinx them- they’re already without [captain Michael] Ballack.
[Is Scheisse the best way to say Bollocks in German?]
421 South 2nd St. by Headhouse Square
The other sure fire front-runner, along with Fado (with the previous and following picks close behind), for where to immerse yourself in the maddening crowd. The uptick in intensity usually burns off the fat — i.e. the plastic, know-little supporters — but that doesn’t mean that all are not welcome or that this isn’t a place for US bred supporters; they’re equally as keyed up as their counterparts from all stretches of the globe, while the able barkeeps keep the craic and the conversation above par. Reverence and passion is all that is asked.
Expect the sound to be up high and every room- each one carries a different atmosphere and feel, all with ample tvs, with many a giant flatscreen and two large projection screens- to be packed early on level with the early morning turnout they see from August to May, the people pouring out after the day’s matches finalizing dawn’s awakening as they evince earnest stacks of Guinness, the game’s passion while people take their morning tea half asleep across the square.
Great atmosphere. Check. Early opening. Check. Designated soccer mad atmosphere. Check. Sure, it exists, for other reasons, but anytime without soccer, just like Fado, is merely downtime, a time to ponder, share a pint, finally talk to your friends, and await the next match. Great darts and fantastic pub food highlight this laid back pub that comes to life with the timekeeper’s watch.
I’ve been promised various drinks specials throughout the tournament. [Check back.]
Paul Sherwin, bartender:
We’ve always been big for events like The World Cup. We’ll be open early for all the 7:30am matches. I expect people at the door. The general interest it seems is higher, especially with the US looking like they’ll do much better than in ’06. We get a lot of Union fans in here, and of course national team fans, so I’m sure that helps.
1600 Arch St. Opposite Love Park
Only the Standard Tap outdoes their appreciation of The Beatles’ Norwegian Wood– the ensconcing comfort of the multi room space with elevated seating and wrap around bar owes much to floor to ceiling mahoghany paneling filled with a deep well of lush sensibility in the pleasantly dim light.
A giant projection screen drops down in the upper seating area, while numerous tvs big and small are ample and appropriately placed. Expect the sound to be up and the place to teeming from excitement early for every match day.
They’re going with $4 specials on two big soccer sponsors: 20 oz imperial pints of Carlsberg and Stella for all matches. And the sponsor of the US team will be represented as well, with $3 Bud and Bud Lite bottles. Food specials will change daily and you also have the chance to enjoy their gift to mankind, their recently debuted, so-simple-it’s-brilliant-pour-it-yourself double-draft-table (see picture). Don’t get any ideas though- you have to set up a tab, and the smart reader will keep a detailed tab of your imbibing.
Positive: Zero wait time if you take the option to reserve the table with friends. Negative: No bartender to hit on, to cry to when your team is “unfairly” dropped out. Perhaps you can program in your team, so it knows when to robotically say, There, There…There, There, while you fill another glass.
Ken Merriman, General Manager:
The US would be my outside horse for The World Cup, though I wouldn’t bet on them. They do have the potential, given the squad they have now and the group they’ve been placed in. I’ll cheer on anybody but England…I’m an Ireland supporter of course, but they’re not there thanks to Mr. Handball Theirry Henry.
FIFA, more so is to blame. There’s what they decided to do in the middle of the competition, where they went about reseeding things to ensure any of their ‘big teams’ don’t get knocked out. Combine that with a poor handling- both on the field and off- of that final match [the second France v Ireland qualifier playoff] and you have quite a mess. [While we both agree that Robbie Keene and Kevin Doyle should have had at least 2 goals apiece over both legs, all I could do is commiserate and say, I know, I know.]
3408 Sansom St.
In need of respite from the subconscious study you’re conducting on sleep deprivation, manic behavior, malnutrition, and caffeine and ephedrine addiction, while studying WNT protein signaling in drosophila- no, it has nothing to do with cancer studies, you say to people no longer listening before you gruffly curse- you stumble into this University City soccer hotbed along side professionals and students, standout bartender Paul Kelly’s friendly brogue mingling with a plethora of accents and excited shouts every time the ball is struck wide.
The pitch will glow in all its emerald glory from some of the prettiest HD flatscreens on par with anyone else on our list. Great sight lines abound at and close to the bar. Arrive early though, as the same cannot be said of all seats in the adjacent dining area. $2 Bud and Bud Lite pints, $3.50 Heineken pints and bottles during all games.
Erin Quinn, Manager:
We’ll open early for anyone who requests it. Normally we’ll open at 9am, but we’re ready and happy to do so. Just call and speak with us for the 7:30am matches. We’ve gotten a lot of people in the past for the still groggy English Premier league games.
Hopefully with the rise of the [Philadelphia] Union and the fact that some Champions League teams just came through the local region, we’ll see even more excitement, though in this area, in University City we’ve done particularly well; we had people sitting on the floor during the last World Cup and we were packed throughout the Champions League tournament, with The Final taking precedent over The Flyers playoff game that same day, with not one tv turned to hockey.
We do have a lot of foreign fans due to the universities, and they do turn some of their local friends onto the game. I know, however, that, contrary to what the media might say, there are a lot of homegrown fans here, and we certainly see that too. I was a soccer fan and player- I played on St. Basil’s highschool and La Salle University’s varsity teams. Sure, I grew up in a soccer family with foreign ties, but I resent that mentality here, especially the ‘soccer’s not a manly sport, play football’ stupidity that peoples’ dad’s spout and pass on, meanwhile soccer requires far more talent and athleticism, while being much more physical than most people expect.
I’m hoping the US get’s pretty far, while I know our players aren’t as good as some top players in Europe. If they get knocked out I’ll follow teams with some of my favorite players; I probably know more than the average girl, but I have to say Cristiano Rinaldo is my favorite player due to the way he looks with his shirt off.
[More on her soccer background]
I’ve also coached at Bishop McDevitt High School. My godfather, George O’Neill, played for Celtic, prior to coming to the states to play for and win championships with The Philadelphia Atoms. My dad, Francis Quinn, came here to play Gaelic Football for The Shamrocks, a local representation of his club back in county Tyrone- dad racked up the championships as well.
700 North 2nd St.
The Scene: Die-hard regulars with deep passion and knowledge of the beautiful game line the l-shaped bar and window ledges in a cozy space sure to be packed for nearly every single match, with many a fan watching through the giant windows breathing in the summer air as they yawn out towards 2nd and Fairmount Sts.
Everyone’s eyes will be directed towards the giant flatscreen perched above the glass case at the start of the bar opposite the entrance. You may find yourself seated next to members of two of the Casa Soccer League’s –– the biggest amateur soccer league in the region- standout teams; West Philly FC and Philly Soccer Firm are both sponsored by The 700.
Grab a hoppy selection on hand pump to complete The (unofficial) 700 special- a pint of Yards ESA and an Italian hoagie deluxe from The Palm Tree Market across the street. Much like the ’02 World Cup, this Korean deli can pull the upset on any of its Italian rivals for best hoagie in the city, with its artful blend of Boar’s Head prosciutto, Genoa salami, capocollo ham, pepper ham, and a roll with just the right amount of softness. In the spirit of Saturday’s big match you match off established English favorites such as Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stoudt and Fuller’s London Porter versus our young, yet mature, craft brews, such as Philadelphia Brewing Company’s Rowhouse Red or Dogfishhead’s Red & White.
$4 Carlsberg during matches; $1 from every Kenzinger pint sold during an Italy match will go towards indoor soccer complex, Starfinder, on behalf of Philadelphia Brewing Company’s Copa MundiALE fundraiser. Limited edition 700 World Cup shirts will be for sale and there will be shirt and soccer ball giveaways once the round of 16 is under way.
Tracey Stanton, owner
I’m excited about the way we’re doing it. All the signage is homemade and relates more to our love of soccer rather than our relationship with sponsors. We have this great giant bracket that has some cool African scenes- that’s done by Beth Blofson. We’ll also have air brushed paintings- in the style of what you can get on South St. – by Kerry Kenney for sale featuring contemporary world soccer stars. So, we’re going for pieces from our friends who are artists, rather than something reflective of an ‘ESPN’ type event, which is definitely not the atmosphere here.
Sure, if paired up with any two bars from the above group (in terms of ‘best soccer pub’), the following pubs would probably not make it out of the group stage, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth a visit that quickly turns into an extended stay. Perhaps some of the following pubs would even make for a group of death.
As with the following bar, it’s a bit tough to include this one under honorable mention, especially since O’Neals, with it’s ever expansive beer menu and rich history, helped to widen my appreciation of beer, while being a forerunner in turning Philly into a great beer city.
The televisions will be turned up, with the bar area well decked out. They do well with showings of the various European leagues, so expect a solid turnout. Various $2.50 import draft selections are among several of specials to be offered, including $3.50 Carlsberg 20 oz imperial pints, as well as $3 drafts on Beerweek holdovers- many are expected- such as Erie Monster IPA from Great Lakes, Sierra Nevada Summerfest Ale, and many more.
If there’s enough of a demand- more than just you and your roomy- they’ll open for the 7:30am matches. Otherwise it’s 9am the rest of the time.
Greg “Spoonie” Rand, co-owner:
I’ve grown to like it, working with a barback from Liverpool, which by default, has made me an Everton supporter. We’re pushing The Union and we get the fans. I’m following them somewhat, but it’s hard since they haven’t played in their stadium yet- they’ve been on the road so much it seems.
[On picking a winner]
I know the U.S. beating England would be huge. I would go with Argentina, though- they have the speed and the talent, with Lionel Messi and many others, and they play a fast, highly skilled game with beautiful passing.
310 Drury St.
The oldest continuously operating pub in Philly is a fever pitch of excitement 24/7, so why not drop in for The World Cup, particularly when you can enjoy any of a constant rotation of 29 beers on tap, including their richly flavored 1860 Anniversary IPA, as well as their trademark eponymous lager and ale- all three brewed for them by Stoudt’s- along with local craft brews such as Spring House’s Atomic Ray Gun and High Point Brewing’s Ramstein Maibock.
Right now, there’s no promise of opening up the upstairs bar- with its giant projection screen- and the best seats will be by the back near the lone large flatscreen- with multiple smaller screens about the bar and far wall- and bad or uncomfortable sight lines are likely if you show late, but if you plan it right you could being going nuts in one of our most treasured pubs that manager Gabrielle Glock says, has seen a bevy of spirited activity during recent key matches for club and country.
They’ll feature $6.50 pitchers of Bud and PBR for all matches as well as one of the most affordable brunch pub menus around. If there’s interest, they’ll open for the 7:30am matches, so call ahead.
Gabrielle: GO USA…I can’t say I know a lot, but we’ve had the Sons of Ben in here going nuts and with our beer menu and brunch menu we’re a great choice. [Pressing her for other beer’s to highlight] Oh, we don’t do Guinness here. Our O’Hara’s Stoudt [everyone should grab their celebration stoudt at Food and Friends at 20th and Spruce] is a great stoudt that we offer, and unlike the stoudt’s offered elsewhere, such as Guinness [with breweries in North America], ours is one of the select few that still come directly from Ireland.
The Blarney South
328 South St.
A nice pit stop down South with a great bar to pull up to where you can actually enjoy a drink and a match no matter what the hell is transpiring outside.
$3 PBR during all matches, with several flat screens throughout.
Nicole Anonymous, bartender:
We do have 21 beers on tap. We expect a lot of foreigners- we’re more of a tourist destination for people dropping in while checking out South St. or seeing a show next door[at the TLA], while in from out of town.
I don’t really know much at all about it [The World Cup], but I’m sure I’ll get swept up in it just like Phillies or Flyers fever once it kicks into full gear.
Out of Town Options:
The Iron Abbey: The owners of neighboring Na Brasa Brazilian Steakhouse have given the Corporate Way 1 and Maple Glenn – or whatever pastoral euphemism you’d prefer- community development crowd a breath of life with this gastropub featuring a nuanced beer selection as diverse as the games itself.
New York, New York:
Nevada Smiths: A great place for locally bred EPL fans of either Manchester United or Arsenal to test their mettle against opposing fans whose across-the- pond origins can equal passion and tempers shorter than beer muscle fueled Phillies fans. A great cavernous space sure to be filled to standing room only. Get there early and hope they leave the doors open. Tvs, tvs here, tvs everywhere, including giant projection.
Caffe Dello Sport: Arrive early. Arrive early. Arrive early…or you won’t get a seat and you certainly won’t be able to enjoy an espresso and biscotti- some of the best in Boston’s Italian North end section- prior to the match in this beautifully tiled and authentic little caffe. Be ready for a passionate crowd and a lesson in sign language. Enjoy the giant projection screen with the sound way up, as well as many a Peroni, the Grappa Banfi, and the Sogno di Sorrento Limoncello, a liqueur so sublime and specialized, you know you’ll never find it in a PA state store.