LAST CALL: It's never too early for excited crew of US World Cupfans

If Jeff Wuerth seems a bit bleary-eyed these days, just hand him a cup of coffee and step aside.

If Jeff Wuerth seems a bit bleary-eyed these days, just hand him a cup of coffee and step aside.

Opening the Columbus Crew's stadium for free viewings of all World Cup soccer games seemed like a good idea (too good, maybe), hence the bags under PR director Wuerth's eyes.

The Crew is one of 10 Major League Soccer teams, and the only one with its own stadium. In its effort to promote soccer at all levels, the staff decided to host viewing parties under a tent just outside the stadium.

Best Buy lent big-screen TVs, and sponsors like Pepsi and Krispy Kreme offered to supply complimentary refreshments.

Wuerth sent out a few press releases, and coerced sports reporters who were a little green to the world of soccer to try picking winners. But when 200 people showed up for the France-Senegal game, he could see the Crew would need a bigger boat.

More TVs and a large video board were brought in, but the 1,500-plus fans who got up early for the first US game against Portugal spilled out of the tent and into the stadium. Word of mouth, strong news coverage, and the US' continued success kept the chanting, flag-waving crowds growing.

More than 4,000 came to watch the US trounce Mexico on June 17.

Wuerth drags himself into work for the wee-hour World Cup games between stints traveling with his team. "What we're getting out of it is we're spreading the passion for soccer, he said, managing not to yawn.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in