US-England World Cup match draws a crowd to West Side bar

Inside, some fans sported USA jerseys and scarves, standing all game and growing hoarse as their team pressed England hard in the second half of the game, which ended in a draw.

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Fans gather to watch the USA and England play in the men’s World Cup at Cleo’s, 1935 W. Chicago Ave., on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022.

Fans gather to watch the USA and England play in the men’s World Cup at Cleo’s on Friday afternoon.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Brandon Feiter likes the United States, soccer and a crisp German beer.

The West Side resident showed up two hours early at his regular haunt on Friday to make sure he could enjoy all three.

“I’m holding down the fort,” he said, nursing a lager while texting his friends who were outside, waiting to get in.

The 30-year-old was among about 200 people packed inside Cleos, 1935 W. Chicago Ave., to watch the U.S. play England in the men’s World Cup.

“They were supposed to get here ages ago,” he said, looking at the line outside.

Brandon Feiter (center, in cap) watches the United States men’s soccer team take on England in the World Cup on Friday at Cleos, 1935 W. Chicago Ave.

Brandon Feiter (center) watches the USA and England play in the men’s World Cup at Cleos on Friday.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Though the game ended 0-0, Cleos definitely came out on top.

The West Town spot established itself as a soccer bar years ago, and will draw some fans on weekend mornings to watch English Premier League matches. But the World Cup has meant wall-to-wall crowds since the games kicked off in Qatar.

“For us, this is incredible. There’s nothing like it,” said bar manager Kevin Grish.

By late Friday afternoon, Grish estimated the bar was on its way to doing about 500% its usual business for the day after Thanksgiving — and the crowd reached maximum capacity for the fourth time this World Cup.

The line outside Cleos, 1935 W. Chicago Ave. in West Town, as soccer fans wait to get inside to watch the U.S. and England play in the men’s World Cup on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022.

The line outside Cleos in West Town is long as soccer fans wait to get inside to watch the U.S. play England in the men’s World Cup on Friday.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Among the new faces on hand was Mark Richardson, 39, who came from Lincoln Square at around 10 a.m., hoping to have a seat for a U.S. victory.

“I want be able to lord this over all my British friends,” he said.

Englishman Geoff Hiron, 43, and American Lennon Murphy, 31, showed up an hour before kickoff, thinking that would be plenty early to get inside the bar. But they ended up outside, waiting in line, and eventually had to go somewhere else to find a seat.

Before they left, though, Murphy made sure to sarcastically remind his British friend of his pre-game bragging.

“What, this could be the worst beat down by the British since burning the White House in 1812?” Murphy taunted.

“Absolutely,” Hiron replied.

Inside, some fans sported USA jerseys and scarves, standing all game and growing hoarse as their team pressed England hard in the second half.

Members of a local soccer team sponsored by Cleos gather inside the West Town bar on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 to watch the U.S. and England play in the men’s World Cup.

Members of a local soccer team sponsored by Cleos gather inside the West Town bar on Friday, which area drew a full house to watch the United States and England play to a scoreless draw in the World Cup.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Longtime Cleos regular and lifetime Brit Chris Broadbent, 49, sat unperturbed at the bar, where he had been since 9 a.m.

“If it’s one person supporting the USA, if it’s 60 people, I’ll still stand up on my stool and make a big E for England,” said the Leicester native, who moved to Chicago almost two decades ago.

As England missed an opportunity in the final minutes of the game, the Portage Park resident held his face in his hands, then nodded in approval at the crowd around him.

“As someone that’s been here since the start, what I’m really happy about is just being here with all the other people having a great football experience,” he said.

“First-timer, old-timer, British, American, whatever your reason is, you’re included.”

Michael Loria is a staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South and West sides.

Barb and Chris Broadbent at Cleos, 1935 W. Chicago Ave., the couple’s regular spot to watch soccer games.

Barb and Chris Broadbent at Cleos, the couple’s regular spot to watch soccer games.

Michael Loria/Sun-Times

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