Soccer fans gather in Salem to watch historic USA World Cup victory

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SALEM, Va. (WFXR) — Ten minutes before kickoff for the FIFA Women’s World Cup final, Danny Beamer was nervous.

Not because the United States was facing the European champions, the Netherlands, for the most prestigious trophy in the sport of women’s soccer. But because he couldn’t get the audio feed to work for the outdoor screen that was set up at Salem Kiwanis Field.

“We thought we’d be able to do it through the cable. Then I knew we had a computer, but the sound didn’t work,” Beamer said.

Beamer, the executive director of VBR Star Soccer, organized the watch party with the city of Salem after the United States booked its spot in the final on Tuesday. He eventually located another laptop to stream the game and just as the teams were about to take the field, video and audio were working properly.

“We got it rolling,” Beamer said. “It was awesome.”

Dozens of soccer fans gathered in Salem to watch the United States capture its fourth Women’s World Cup trophy in a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands. The game was shown on a Jumbotron set up over home plate at the home of Salem high school baseball, which originally opened in 1932.

A Jumbotron was set up over home plate at Salem Kiwanis Field for fans to watch the United States play the Netherlands in the FIFA Women’s World Cup final.

“This is so cool. I missed the first viewing party that we did at the Grandin Theater,” Botetourt County resident Angela Myers said. “To watch it here with friends and family that love it as much as, I mean, we all love it. It was so much fun.”

After the Americans were held scoreless in the first half for the first time in this year’s World Cup, fans were worried that the Dutch might pull off the upset.

“So many opportunities and we weren’t able to finish,” Myers said. “The (Dutch) goalkeeper was phenomenal.”

A heavy rain shower passed over Salem at halftime but it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the fans that gathered to watch from seats that were covered by the stadium’s metal roofing. And when U.S. star midfielder Megan Rapinoe scored the game’s first goal on a penalty kick in the 61st minute, the crowd stood and cheered.

“She’s money,” Myers said. “I love her. I couldn’t handle that pressure.”

Myers and her daughter watched the game in Salem among friends, all of whom are play high school soccer in Southwest Virginia. And they think the United States’ run to a second straight World Cup title has been an eye-opener for others to grow the sport locally.

“It just helps me think that us three could be there when we get older and makes us just want to continue to play,” Cave Spring soccer player Catherine Thacker said.

And despite the early technical issues, Beamer called the event a success.

“So much better than I even thought it was going to be,” Beamer said.

Beamer is already looking ahead to the next Women’s World Cup.

“That will be our goal. To win three in a row and have this place full.”

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