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Portland, Maine, soccer fans turn out in droves to watch the Women's World Cup

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Millions of people tuned in last night to watch the U.S. play the Netherlands in the Women's World Cup. Some of those fans were gathered at a soccer bar in Portland, Maine, and reporter Carly Peruccio was among them.

CARLY PERUCCIO, BYLINE: Dozens of people wait in line for drinks outside a bar called the Portland Zoo. Mark Miller is bartending. He's an owner here, and he's stunned by the size of the crowd.

MARK MILLER: Yeah. This is one of those classic nights where you're like, oh, maybe - it'll be a Wednesday. It'll be chill. It won't be too crazy. And then you just get hit with, like, a three-hour line.

PERUCCIO: I mean, what's - this is not your normal Wednesday. Is that what I'm hearing?

MILLER: Not at all. And once again, I'm always amazed at the Women's World Cup turnout versus the men's off the opening games.

PERUCCIO: I mean, how does this compare?

MILLER: Like, double. This compares to, like, the - like, towards the finals of the World Cup. I don't know how to manage it.

PERUCCIO: There are a lot of millennials here, a few Gen Zers sprinkled in. It's about an even split of women and men. Bryan Plofsky is among the crowd. He's wearing a U.S. women's jersey.

BRYAN PLOFSKY: I think that there's something pretty special about the way that the teams work together and move. The flow of the game feels more like water, where the flow of a men's game is more like lightning. And I appreciate the flow of the water more.

PERUCCIO: There are high expectations for the U.S. tonight, but in the 17th minute, Jill Roord from the Netherlands scores. There's some language not suitable for the radio. The U.S. is down 1-nothing.

ERICA PLOFSKY: But I think they need to slow the game down.

PERUCCIO: Erica Plofsky shakes her head in disappointment.

E PLOFSKY: And, like, they need to just, like, work with each other because it seems like they got into panic mode.

HENRY TROTTER: Given that they're supposedly the No. 1 team in the world, we should be playing better than this.

PERUCCIO: That's Henry Trotter (ph) standing in the crowd.

TROTTER: I don't know. There's still 30 minutes. We could - we can do it.

E PLOFSKY: In the 61st minute, the U.S. wins a corner.

(APPLAUSE)

PERUCCIO: U.S. midfielder Rose Lavelle steadies herself for the kick.

ALISON MURRAY: Well, I almost jumped up on the table in front of me.

PERUCCIO: That's Alison Murray.

MURRAY: The USA finally scored, and it was Lindsey Horan. And that is the jersey that I'm wearing. And it was a header. And it was gorgeous. And I loved it.

PERUCCIO: As the clock ticks on, good chances become missed opportunities. When the U.S. is called for a foul, a fan makes an inappropriate gesture to the TV in frustration. In the end, the come-from-behind win wasn't meant to be - U.S. 1, Netherlands 1. The mood is disappointment but not total despair.

KRIS BARNES: That was good. I'm glad we got the comeback.

PERUCCIO: Kris Barnes knows Team USA's work isn't done.

BARNES: But now I have to wake up on Tuesday at 3 a.m.

PERUCCIO: That's when the U.S. team takes on Portugal. At that hour, people probably won't be watching from the Portland Zoo. For NPR News, I'm Carly Peruccio in Portland, Maine.

(SOUNDBITE OF KOFFEE AND KANDEE SONG, "LOTS OF FUN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Carly Peruccio