GODFREY – John Van Baquetes was a busy man Saturday morning.
After all, the Vambaketes are soccer players. He’s also a bar and restaurant owner, which could be a particularly good combination during the World Cup.
Vambaketes is the owner of Tony’s Ranch House in Godfrey. Yeoman’s work at the World Cup Watch his party, which he held Saturday morning to watch the United States play the Netherlands on the knockout stage of the Cup at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar. It was a.
“We have football people here,” says Van Baquettes, a former football player at Alton High School and Lewis and Clark Community College. “A lot of people who are veteran coaches, veteran players and fans.
Also, there were several referees for the family-friendly event, and many young people were also participating.
This was the 4th watch party hosted by the Vambaketes during the USA’s game at this year’s World Cup. It was also the last of the game for the United States, as the Netherlands eliminated America with her 3–1 win.
Fans began to gather an hour before the 9am game, and by kickoff all the tables were filled, with people standing shoulder to shoulder watching the game on multiple TV screens. Overflow his fans assembled in the adjacent enclosed outdoor patio.
The Ranch House offered free breakfast and sold plenty of drinks to wash it down.
It was the first watch party held on Saturday morning. Previous US games at this year’s World Cup were weekday games starting at 1pm Central Time. The World Cup takes place in Qatar, Arabic Standard Time, which is nine hours ahead of US Central Time.
An early start to the US knockout round game against the Netherlands was made possible after the US beat Iran 1-0 on Monday to advance from pool play. Prior to this, the USA drew England 0-0 and Wales 1-1.
Vambaketes had huge crowds at all four watch parties. Other regional venues also hosted watch parties on Saturday, including Roebrick House in Besart, Roper’s Regal Beagle in Godfrey, Alton Sports Tap and Pavia’s Place in Granite City.
Former Alton High coach Greg Nasero was among the crowd at the Lunch Hosue.
“It’s all about watching the World Cup with other football people,” said Nasello, who has also played football for AHS, LCCC and Oakland University in Michigan. “I started watching games like this in pubs in St. Louis, and this is the best way to go, especially if you can’t make it to the game.”
Saturday was packed with former players from Alton High, Marquette, LCCC, and other schools, as well as a younger generation of footballers just as eager to root for the U.S. team as their elders.
Fans inside the Ranch House stood, removed their hats, and sang along as they watched the national anthem being played in Qatar before settling into action.
In addition to the cheers, there was a lot of groaning from the fans watching the USA dominate possession time, but there was only one chance to score. The fans roared in the closing stages of the game when Haji Wright cut the US deficit to his 2-1. The same fans fell silent after a while when the Netherlands scored their third goal of the second half to put the game away.
Vambaketes said the watch party didn’t end at the Ranch House despite the US loss. He plans one for his championship match on Sunday, December 18th. It is scheduled to start at 9:00 am. That means another breakfast is scheduled.
Of course, even when the World Cup isn’t on, owning a restaurant or bar takes a lot of work. But for the Vambakates, Saturday’s get-together was a labor of love and a lot of fun.
“Breakfast, mimosas, screwdrivers, and American football,” he said. “Do you need anything else?”
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