It seems like soccer is perpetually America’s sport of the future. We know all the indicative trends: young athletes are increasingly sticking with soccer, rather than football; viewership of the sport is up; the M.L.S. is growing. But still, the sport is ever-cusping, on these shores.
The World Cup, however, is when even the non-sports fan perks up and notices soccer. It’s the pinnacle of the world’s most popular sport, and pretty much the only thing that makes me feel a tingle of national pride. The U.S. squad is strong, and under the stewardship of new coach Jurgen Klinsmann, are playing better soccer than they have in decades. But despite public relations campaigns to the contrary, the U.S. have no chance of winning the whole thing–in fact, they’ll struggle to progress out of the very tough group into which they’ve been drawn.
Still, this is going to be fun. The 2014 World Cup kicks off today at 4 p.m., with a match between hosts Brazil and Croatia. Here are some of the best places around the borough to catch all the action–but of course, there are many more. If we’re lucky, something like this will happen again.
The de facto best soccer bar in Brooklyn (their website has a countdown clock to the World Cup). This Prospect Heights spot has a welcoming atmosphere for diehards and casual observers. Specials include The Fuckit Bucket, which gets you six beers for $15.
583 Vanderbilt Avenue, Prospect Heights
Brazil, the host country of this year’s World Cup, is the spiritual home of soccer. The country is mad for the sport, and its sides traditionally have played it with a poetic, playful verve that leads observers to dub soccer “the beautiful game.” It’ll probably be fun to watch the World Cup with some Brazilians. Miss Favela, a Brazilian restaurant in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge, is the place to be.
57 South Fifth Street, Williamsburg
Beast of Bourbon
The owners of this Bed-Stuy bar will be showing all the games here and at their sister location, Black Swan, nearby at 1048 Bedford Avenue. Beast of Bourbon has eight TVs and specials on Bud Light and Radeberger drafts during all games. Black Swan has specials on Weinstephan.
710 Myrtle Avenue, Bed-Stuy
The best soccer bar in Williamsburg will be celebrating with a kick-off party featuring Brazilian musicians and DJs. They have a giant outdoor seating area, too.
4 Berry Street, Williamsburg
The Bushwick pizza joint is kicking off the tournament on June 12 with giveaways, foosball, beer, and food. All the games will be shown on three screens in the backyard tiki bar.
261 Moore Street, Bushwick
The Park Slope bar won’t be showing every match–they’ve handpicked several of the best ones–but the ones they are showing will be screened outdoors on the bocce court, so that if you get bored with one ball sport, you can switch to another.
702 Union Street, Park Slope
Italy has long been a world powerhouse in soccer, and while the Azzurri are not prohibitive favorites this year, it wouldn’t be a shock to see them win the whole thing. Caffé Romeo, in Bensonhurst, is the best gathering spot for fans of the Italians. The Champagne and beer stains on the ceiling are purportedly from the Italians’ last World Cup triumph, in 2006.
7111 20th Avenue, Bensonhurst
An obvious choice, perhaps, with three giant screens, endless tap selections, and great food. What you might not know is that there will be a “live polka event” on June 26th for the Germany vs. U.S.A. match, and foosball tournaments during halftime of all the games.
113 North 3rd Street, Williamsburg
Kebeer Draft Bar & Grill
The Russian national team is unique in that all 23 of its members play within the country’s domestic league. Outsider observers don’t quite know what to make of them, but Russians are confident of their chances this year. Down in Brighton Beach, many of Brooklyn’s Russian ex-pats will be gathered at Kebeer. It’s sure to be rowdy when they play.
1003 Brighton Beach Avenue, Brighton Beach
Under the DUMBO Archway
That’s right–there will be World Cup viewing parties at the archway under the Manhattan Bridge. The DUMBO Improvement District, in conjunction with ESPN and Rooftop Films, will show twenty matches, starting this Saturday with Colombia vs. Greece, and including all of the U.S.A.’s matches. All events are free and open to all ages. Check out the full schedule here.