Across America, U.S. soccer fans got up early -- or stayed up late -- and watched their World Cup team face European powerhouse Portugal.
Two hours later, they had to wipe their eyes not because they were tired, but to make sure they believed what they saw.
The United States defeated Portugal 3-2 in a stunning upset in its World Cup opener, sending sleep-deprived soccer fans into delirium and causing a sensation even in outer space.
In Kansas City, Mo., where the game started at 4 a.m. Wednesday, dawn was breaking as more than 400 fans -- fueled by 22 gallons of coffee and 20 dozen doughnuts -- celebrated the Americans' win at a party held by the Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer.
"I slept and got up," said Dean Gardner, 63, a retired customer service representative from suburban Raytown. "We old people don't stay up all night any more."
The crowd was even larger than diehard soccer fans like Nathan Hunold expected.
"I thought there were going to be about 30 people," the title company worker said. "I think this shows how far the game has progressed in the U.S. It has a long way to go, but it's come a long way since it started."
The George & Dragon Pub, a tavern in Seattle's eclectic Fremont neighborhood, stayed open through the wee hours for soccer fans.
Owner John Bayliss, a native of England, said as many as 160 soccer fanatics jammed the pub to watch the U.S.-Portugal match, even though the beer stopped flowing before 2 a.m. under state law.
They waved flags and chanted "U-S-A, U-S-A."
Near Rochester, N.Y., more than 200 fans gathered at Soccer Sam's Pizza & Pasta Cafe in Webster early Wednesday morning to watch and cheer the U.S. team.
Fans donned scarves, hats and jerseys, and four players from the Webster Eagles Under-17 boys team painted their faces in red, white and blue. The standing-room-only crowd broke into chants as the U.S. team held on for the win.
"This is unbelievable," said Kevin White, 25, of Walworth. "We were just praying for a tie going into this match."
The two Americans and one Russian aboard the international space station were informed promptly of their teams' victories. Russia beat Tunisia 2-0 Wednesday.
"During the radio communication sessions, flight controllers told the crew of all the latest developments. And since the crew is made up of real soccer fans, the news was received more than happily," Viktor Blagov, deputy director of Russian Mission Control, was quoted by the ITAR-Tass news agency.
Not all soccer fans were happy, however.
The mood was as gray as the skies in Newark's Ironbound section, home to one of the largest Portuguese populations in America. Businesses along Ferry Street, where an unofficial street sign proclaimed the road to be "Portugal Avenue," all had televisions on, replaying the game's key moments. Merchants and their customers -- many of whom were seriously late for work because they stayed to watch the whole game -- were still shaking their heads.
"This never should have happened," moaned Paula Viera, a clerk at one of the Portuguese bakeries that seem to be on nearly every corner here. "That was messed up."
Cesario Amorim, who owns a restaurant and bakery, opened early so customers could watch the game on TV. He was torn between his loyalty to his native land and his affection for his new country.
"I guess I'm trying to be neutral," he said. "I'm Portuguese, but I love America. So one of my teams won."
Portugal's prime minister urged the country not to lose faith in the national team.
"It's at these moments that great teams show what fiber they're made of," Prime Minister Jose Durao Barroso said.
He urged fans to "encourage the team," saying, "It mustn't go from optimism to the worst pessimism."
Added Armando Lopes, 39, a stereo equipment store owner: "It should have been an easy win. We took it for granted we would easily go through to the next round. Now, it looks like we might be out after three games."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun