JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With the United States Men’s National team clinging to a 1-0 lead in the midst of nine minutes of stoppage time against Iran, fans at the Bier Hall at Intuition Ale Works held their collective breath, waiting for the final whistle.
“It’s so intense,” Fionnuala Geoghegan said. “I don’t know how people watch this all the time. It’s crazy. So crazy. And the extra time at the end, you don’t know what is going to happen.”
When the whistle finally sounded, marking the end of the game and sending the U.S. through to the round of 16, fans cheered, waved flags and scarves and chanted “U.S.A.”
It was the kind of excitement fans hope to experience with a new pro soccer team, slated to begin play in 2025 in the USL, and a women’s team also scheduled to kick off in 2025.
“We’re always better with others, right? We’re stronger together. And it’s so much fun being with a group like this, and seeing these groups get bigger and bigger in Jacksonville,” said Trip Stanly. “This happens every four years. So you got to make the most of it. And I think what these guys are doing, they’re going to build off of this and we got a great future and we’ve seen soccer work well here in Jax we know it’s going to work well when they bring that team back. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The excitement around the World Cup is impossible to ignore. Even casual soccer fans, or simply fans who want to cheer for the United States, can get caught up in the fun.
“I think it just gets people excited and gets them interested. And obviously, we are riding the coattails a little bit,” said Steve Livingstone, JAX USL founding partner. “Between now and the next World Cup, that’s when we’ll be developing the club and building the stadium, and it’s really exciting things, you know, ahead for the First Coast.”
Next up for the United States, it’s the Netherlands in the round of 16 on Saturday. That matchup offers a perfect chance for Geoghegan to bring the rivalry out with some friends.
“We’re ready for Saturday,” Geoghegan said. “Our friends are from the Netherlands, so it’s perfect. You know, it’s gonna be a great match.”
During halftime of the watch party, Livingstone and lead investor Ricky Caplin discussed the team’s progress with fans. Livingstone noted that the names and brands for the teams will be influenced by fans, who can leave their opinions at the club’s website (jaxusl.com). Caplan also said that he had recently received several proposals for the architectural designs for the stadium and that progress was being made on determining the site for the stadium and team headquarters.
Between now and then, JAX USL will be at work rallying area soccer fans.
“I thought that today was amazing for 2 o’clock on Tuesday afternoon,” Livingstone said. “I think a lot of people will maybe miss work the rest of the afternoon, but that’s fine. It’s all for a good cause. But yeah, a great crowd here and we look forward to doing the next one on Saturday.”