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July 3, 2014

Lively Crowd Gathers in ODU Webb Center to Cheer On America's World Cup Team

The U.S.A. chants started early, long before the anthems were played.

Sitting in chairs and sprawled out on the floor of the North Cafeteria of Webb University Center, more than 100 young soccer players who are participating in the Dominion Soccer Academy on the Old Dominion University campus this week were doing something more vital than dribbling and shooting drills.

The camp was brought in on Thursday afternoon for an extended lunch-hour, so participants and coaches could watch the U.S. Men's National Soccer team game against Germany in the World Cup.

The young soccer enthusiasts cheered with every scoring opportunity for the United States. But they were relatively rare in a game the Americans lost 1-0.

Nevertheless, Alan Dawson, the ODU men's soccer coach, said it's important for young players in this country to see the national team play on soccer's highest stage.

"This is a big day for the camp; we had planned our week around this game," said Dawson, who directs the soccer academy. "These kids are very excited with the World Cup success of the United States. They are following the games closely at home, and we have talked about it a lot during the camp."

Throughout the World Cup, small crowds have gathered around every television in Webb Center and shared the experience of watching the international sporting spectacle. The crowds were especially enthusiastic during Thursday's Team USA game.

"It is so great to see the wide range of members of the campus community come together around events like this," said Webb Center Director Sue Mitchell. "We had faculty, staff, international and domestic students, as well as young people attending sports campus join together around the televisions to watch the games."

Dawson said this year's World Cup is happening at an important time for soccer in the United States. Despite losing to Germany, the Americans advanced through to the knockout rounds because of their success earlier in the tournament. "Things are moving in a very positive direction. You can sense the movement growing in the United States. Continued success of the national team is important to continue to grow the game."

The next Team USA game is Tuesday, July 1, at 4 p.m., against Belgium.