As a huge sports fan, sports writer and blogger, I only had a casual interest in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final Sunday afternoon. I would gather that, a week ago, few people would have guessed they would be sitting down to watch the event, including myself. If Twitter is any indication (follow us at @razzjazzsports) there were many in Harlem, New York City, the United States, and Worldwide watching the game. I ventured with a good friend for brunch at the newly opened Harlem Tavern (301 West 116th Street at the corner of Frederick Douglass Blvd), and when I arrived around 2pm, and of the two large screens and two small screens in my view, two had the New York Yankees/Toronto Blue Jays game on, one the FIFA Women’s Finals pregame show on, and, on a smaller screen, my beloved New York Mets/Philadelphia Phillies.
By 2:30pm, the FIFA Women’s Final was on both large screens, and one smaller, as the Yankee game was on a smaller screen as well. This left me to checking my Palm Pre for updates on the Met game. Little did I know the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final would take over the spirit of this bar and grill. I watched casually, but, as the tension built in the second half, I began to pay more and more attention to the game.
When Alex Morgan of the United States team scored the first goal of the game in the 69th minute to give the team a 1-0 lead in the second half, the Harlem Tavern crowd erupted. Chants of “USA, USA” were shouted by bar patrons, and from here, to the end of the game, you could feel the energy throughout the venue on every close play. Aya Miyama would tie the game at one in the 80th minute, to the disappointment of most in the bar. Most were on pins and needles for the rest of the game, as the Japanese team almost took a 2-1 lead in the next minute of the game, but the score was tied at the end of regulation, and the teams went into overtime.
The teams battled scoreless in overtime, until Abby Wambach of the United States handed the team their second lead of the game, 2-1 in the 104th minute of the game, and once again, the crowd at the Harlem Tavern exploded, and went into chants of “USA, USA!” Without a lot of knowledge about soccer, I was unsure if this goal meant victory, but, since the game didn’t have sudden death, or “Sudden Victory”, as my friend and brunch companion Archie Beaton of Chlorine Free Products Association calls it, the game would continue. History would repeat itself, as the Japanese team would tie the game in the 117th minute on a goal by Homare Sawa, three minutes before the United States could claim victory.
Penalty Kicks would now determine who would win the FIFA Women’s Championship, and scores by Miyama, Mizuho Sakaguchi, and the World Cup winner by Saki Kumagai gave the Japanese team the victory over the United States, 3-1 on penalty kicks. Watching the coverage of the loss today was disappointing, and makes me wonder how much coverage the United States Women’s team would have garnered in a victory. I would guess they would have flooded the airwaves for at least a week, with appearances on day time and late night talk shows.
“The energy was great. A friend kept saying she loved it, which is why we went. The burgers were great as well,” said Patrice P. Eaton, singer, and fellow Harlem School of the Arts alumni of her experience at the Harlem Tavern.
The burger and fries, three beers, and water I had went down very well as well with the electric atmosphere at the well-designed, newly opened Harlem Tavern. A FIFA World Cup championship for the United States Women’s team would have made it go down that much smoother.
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