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‘I’ve waited so long for this moment’: Fans in Philly share cheers as U.S. moves on in the World Cup

U.S. soccer fans gathered at Xfinity Live to watch their team compete against Iran in the FIFA World Cup in Qatar on Tuesday.

Team USA soccer fans Billy Powers (left) and Chris Karpovich celebrate as they watch their team's World Cup match against Iran at Xfinity Live.
Team USA soccer fans Billy Powers (left) and Chris Karpovich celebrate as they watch their team's World Cup match against Iran at Xfinity Live.Read moreJose F. Moreno / Staff Photographer

Whether it was getting off work early or skipping class, soccer fans in Philly made sure they found a place to gather to watch the U.S. take on Iran in the World Cup on Tuesday afternoon.

Some of those fans congregated at Xfinity Live in South Philadelphia, where the “UGH!” and “GOAL!” sounds blended in reactive harmony as the crowd, featuring a mix of suits, Philly sports gear, and U.S. soccer apparel, sipped on beers and munched on food.

With the game’s dramatic finish, the fans got the last laugh and a sigh of relief before they departed from their seats, as Team USA captured a 1-0 victory over Iran, advancing to a matchup with the Netherlands on Saturday.

For Devin Dolphin of King of Prussia, he was glad to see the U.S. win after a long drought in the World Cup. But he was also grateful to share the experience with his 5-year-old son, Kian.

» READ MORE: Christian Pulisic and a whole lot of defense give USMNT a dramatic 1-0 World Cup win over Iran

“He’s autistic, so it’s like something new for him being in this scenario,” Dolphin said. “I always grew up playing soccer. I grew up watching soccer, so I wanted to get him into it a little bit.”

Kian picked up on some of the soccer lingo, his father said, especially after Hershey native Christian Pulisic scored the only goal of the game.

Jason Mukai of Philadelphia, who moved to the area from Southern California in 2003, planned to work a half day at his job as a banker — he wasn’t going to miss the U.S. play.

“I got into soccer during the World Cup in 2002 and it has since been my favorite sport,” said Mukai, who was wearing a U.S. scarf.

“I was your typical American sports fan, who didn’t really follow soccer at all, but the run the U.S. made was inspiring, so it got me really into the sport and I have followed them ever since.”

The U.S. team made it to the quarterfinals that year before it fell to Germany, 1-0. Despite the loss, it was an impressive outing for the U.S. team, which has not made it to the semifinals since 1930.

Among other fans, 23-year-old Chris Karpovich, who grew up watching former U.S. player Landon Donovan, said he has been waiting for this moment for the last eight years.

“I’ve been a U.S. soccer fan since I was born,” Karpovich said. “I grew up in a soccer family, my entire life, and I’ve waited so long for this moment, so I’m really excited.”

» READ MORE: Philadelphia will host 2026 men’s World Cup games, bringing a global sports spectacle to America’s birthplace

Karpovich, who was wearing a Pulisic jersey, is from Ellicott City, Md. He was in town for the week visiting his friend Billy Powers. The two were anxious before the game, knowing it would all be on the line for the USMNT.

“Win or go home, and there’s nowhere I’d rather be right now,” Karpovich said.

Philly fans also shared their thoughts about the recent tension between the two teams after the U.S. Soccer Twitter account posted the flag of Iran without the Islamic Republic symbol.

U.S. Soccer said that it removed the symbol to show support for the women in Iran fighting for human rights and that it was a one-time display.

» READ MORE: U.S. Soccer briefly scrubs emblem from Iran flag in social media post from World Cup

The brief absence of the emblem came as months-long demonstrations challenged Iran’s government after the Sept. 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by the country’s morality police.

“It’s a world stage, much like the Olympics, and tensions are going to rise when it comes to politics,” Mukai said. “However, I think [the U.S.] had pretty straightforward responses to questions that came from the media.

“From what I’ve read, [Iran’s team] had death threats if they don’t sing their national anthem today. So you know, that’s a big deal. They’re under a lot more pressure than the U.S.”

U.S. fans were hoping both teams would put any differences aside for the game, and it seemed as if they did (from a TV perspective). Now the American supporters get to see their team in the round of 16 at the World Cup.