It was a moment of elation eight years waiting for Sonoma County soccer fans, who watched Monday from their favorite watering holes as the U.S. men’s national team made its long-awaited return to the World Cup.
The first-round match against Wales at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, had it all: yellow cards for crunching tackles, a go-ahead first-half goal for the U.S. and a late equalizer from the penalty spot for Wales.
Fans in Santa Rosa, decked out in a sea of red, white and blue uniforms, took in the action — just the second day of the globe’s quadrennial tournament — at Toad in the Hole, an English-style pub that is home to a large soccer fandom.
“I’m feeling very excited because the U.S., this is our first World Cup in eight years, and then we’re beating Wales in the first half,” said U.S. fan Rocco Reed of Cloverdale. “It’s very exciting, and I got my boys here and it’s great. It just feels really good!”
The U.S. match wasn’t even the first game of the day. That was England-Iran, with a West Coast kickoff time of 5 a.m.
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