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Upper Valley residents come together for US’ pivotal World Cup win

  • Fans celebrate a goal by Tim Weah during the United States Men's National Team final group stage match against Iran in the World Cup at Salt Hill Pub in Lebanon, N.H., on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. Weah was ruled offside and the goal was not counted, but the USMNT was able to maintain their one-goal lead to advance to the knockout stage. Tony Arsenal, rear center, of Canaan, N.H., has been excited to support his team after a long hiatus. “I refused to watch the World Cup last time because we didn’t qualify, so it’s been eight years,” he said. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News / Report For America photographs — Alex Driehaus

  • Parker Seegmiller, left, of Hanover, N.H., and Phil Bohlman, of Hartland, Vt., watch closely during the final few minutes of extra time during the United States Men's National Team final group stage match against Iran in the World Cup at Salt Hill Pub in Lebanon, N.H., on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. Salt Hill Pub has been closed on Tuesdays, but opened for the afternoon to give fans a place to watch the game. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News / Report For America — Alex Driehaus

  • Mia Vogt, left, of Hanover, N.H., and Ned Harris, of New London, N.H., watch the United States Men's National Team final group stage match against Iran in the World Cup at the CCBA Witherell Recreation Center in Lebanon, N.H., on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. CCBA has been holding watch parties that are open to the public for USMNT World Cup games. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/30/2022 1:32:46 AM
Modified: 11/30/2022 10:22:51 PM

LEBANON — Salt hill Pub is ordinarily closed on Tuesdays, but this was no ordinary Tuesday. Soccer fans spilled through the doors of the downtown Lebanon restaurant to watch the U.S. Men’s National Team hold on in the closing minutes for a 1-0 victory over Iran to advance to the knockout round of the 2022 World Cup.

The pub welcomed fans with discounted Modelos. Able to fuel their extra day with employees who offered to take a shift on their usual day off, Salt hill owner Josh Tuohy said it wasn’t about making an extra buck.

“I’m not worrying how today goes cash register-wise,” Tuohy said. “It’s just a critical game. It’s important we’re open for this.”

A few corners of the pub were shrouded in an air of secrecy. Some fans, having dipped out of their offices for the match, were hesitant to talk with a reporter. A contingent of remote workers on laptops split their attention between work screens and a half dozen TV screens over some pints.

While attendance at the pub “spikes” for the American games, Jennifer Galvin, general manager, said they’ve “seen people for every single game so far.”

Galvin’s World Cup regulars include a pickup soccer team that plays twice a week at Lebanon’s Basin Field. The team, huddled together like they were discussing a play, sat posted in front of the TVs.

“If they keep pressuring the way they are it looks like they’ll score,” team member Dana Zeilinger said, making a prescient comment just before the U.S. scored the winning — and only — goal in the game’s 38th minute.

But the goal was not without sacrifice: Christian Pulisic, dubbed “Captain America,” limped off the field at halftime and didn’t return. He was shuttled to a Qatar hospital after suffering an abdominal injury while seeing the ball into the net.

“While they’re on this field, I hope they just play the game,” Zeilinger added. “I know they’re under a lot of pressure.”

Protests in Iran have pasted another layer of meaning onto the game. Down the street at the Carter Community Building Association’s recreation center, Lebanon High School junior Bennett Hewett stopped in after classes to watch it all play out.

“Tyler Adams handled it well,” Hewett said about the tense news conference Monday in which Iranian journalists grilled the United States captain, along with coach Gregg Berhalter, on matters beyond soccer. “He was smooth.”

In the end the Americans and Iranians did in fact just play the game. Politics stayed off the soccer pitch, even despite the rich history between the soccer teams. The U.S. men’s team infamously fell, 2-1, to Iran in a 1998 World Cup match in France that sent them home.

“Every one of these World Cup games, there’s just so much subplot,” said CCBA Programs Director Ned Harris, who was a two-time high school All-American at Hanover High in the late 1970s.

Harris was seated in front of the television in the CCBA lobby next to his younger brother Chandler, of Thetford.

Chandler also played soccer at Hanover High, but their age difference kept them from taking the field together. Chandler referred to them instead as “family teammates.”

He called Tuesday’s match “the ‘Miracle on Ice,’ but for soccer.”

“Still, these guys are players, not diplomats,” Chandler said. “They’re representatives in sport.”

Diplomatic or not, the U.S. men’s team will return to the global pitch Saturday when they square off against the Netherlands in a win-or-go-home round of 16 match at 10 a.m.

Frances Mize is a Report for America corps member. She can be reached at fmize@vnews.com or 603-727-3242.


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