The British Bulldog may be the most American bar in Denver during the FIFA World Cup. Go to one its parties during a USA match through July, and prepare to be serenaded by multiple Bruce Springsteen songs, stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the sun and get an occasional drop of beer spilled on you.
You'll love every minute of it.
The Bulldog has only been open for about six years (it took over the former home of the original Punch Bowl), but after watching a soccer game here, you'd think it's been a staple in the community for much longer. As the official Colorado bar of the American Outlaws (USA soccer's illest fan club), the Bulldog is routinely packed during every international friendly, qualifier or tournament featuring Team USA, and don't be surprised to find a line of people waiting outside at 5 a.m. for Premier League games during the other football season.
I visited the Bulldog for Team USA's final group play match against Germany this morning and the line to get in wrapped around Stout Street -- but good things come to those who wait.
The Bulldog is throwing a block party for every USA, quarterfinal, semifinal and finals game during the Cup, complete with multiple beer gardens, international food and an elevated scoreboard-sized TV that half of Colfax could see if it weren't for a poorly placed Budlight tent.
Making a friend may never be easier than when you're watching your country compete in an alcohol-fueled environment.
"I've called off work for every USA game this summer," says Adam Ferris, a 23-year-old bank teller. "I'm at that point in my life where I care more about advancing in the tournament than advancing my career."
Beer-loving soccer diehards like Ferris help create a new wave of American sports fans. Less than a decade ago, the soccer guy in almost every group of friends was considered a pansy by most of his peers, not tough enough for "real" sports like football and baseball. The climate has changed drastically over the last ten eyars, though, as Team USA competes with the big boys and names like Neymar, Messi and Ronaldo become regular features on Sportscenter.
Ferris is an American Outlaw himself, joining the club when he lived in Tampa, Florida. He looked up the British Bulldog on the Outlaws' website after he moved to Denver, and hasn't gone anywhere else for a game since.
The Outlaws deserve a sizable amount of credit for this nationwide boom in support. Their cheers are featured on ESPN commercials, their USA scarves have infested World Cup stadiums this summer, and the community they've created has snowballed into a cross-culture phenomena.
Go back to the '90s and ask someone bumping Wu-Tang Clan if they ever thought "Wu-Tang Clan ain't nothing ta F' wit" would turn into a nationwide soccer chant, and they would probably slap you and take your lunch money for being so stupid.
But this is the 21st century, a time when American fans go to a British pub, eat Brazilian food and wash it down with an Irish beer. The Bulldog might have been the first bar in Denver to welcome the diverse world of soccer, or maybe it's just the best.
Ferris and I high-fived and embraced in an All-American bro hug after Team USA lost, 1-0. We didn't need a win to advance to the next round, just a close loss to keep us ahead in group standings. The proper fans of the Bulldog got crunk accordingly, as "Party in the USA" by Miley Cyrus blared over the speakers for the finale.
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