20,000 Gathered Sunday to Watch U.S.-Portugal World Cup Match

Figure is twice the number of people who came to Grant Park last week to watch the U.S. defeat Ghana.

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    Chicagoans turned out in massive numbers to experience the game between U.S. and Portugal on Sunday. (Published Thursday, June 26, 2014)

    An estimated 20,000 soccer fans gathered in Chicago on Sunday to watch the United States take on Portugal in a highly anticipated World Cup game.

    U.S. Soccer and the Chicago Park District hosted the Sunday afternoon event downtown. The 20,000 figure, released by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office, is twice the number of people who came to Grant Park last week to watch the U.S. defeat Ghana.

    Excited World Cup Crowd Cheers in Grant Park

    Excited World Cup Crowd Cheers in Grant Park
    Crowds cheer as they gather to watch the U.S.-Portugal World Cup match. (Published Sunday, June 22, 2014)

    The field along Balbo Drive became a sea of red, white and blue Sunday afternoon, hours before the game was set to take place. Fans wore patriotic clothing, some even draping themselves in American flags, and others dressed in costumes like the Statue of Liberty and Captain America.

    Officials announced just before the game began that the viewing party was at capacity and said the would not be allowing any other fans to enter.

    Sarah Sanders traveled from St. Charles to be a part of the big screen action.

    "It brings people together," she said.

    And fans were optimistic before the start of the game.

    "If Ghana can tie Germany, we can beat these guys," said soccer fan Jim Rubly.

    The viewing party was scheduled to be held at Lower Hutchinson Field in Grant Park Sunday, but Saturday storms drenched the area and prompted officials to move the scene to Balbo Drive between Lake Shore and Columbus Drive.

    Because of the move, beer was not be sold or allowed at the new location and no outside alcohol was allowed into the viewing party, officials said.

    The live feed was displayed on a 33’-by-19’ high-definition screen. B-96 morning radio host J Niice hosted the event, which opened to the public at 2 p.m.

    The June 26 match against Germany will be held at the Petrillo Music Shell at Butler Field, located near Columbus Drive and Jackson Street in Grant Park.

    The U.S. team's first match, a surprise win over Ghana, was shown at Arvey Field, also in Grant Park.

    Thousands attended the outdoor viewing, and more are expected on Sunday as excitement builds around the team.

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