The World Cup is finally here and now every freakin' bar is World Cup Central, right? Well, no, not quite. As a soccer fanatic it is great to see the World Cup being treated more seriously this time around but it still reeks of opportunism. Most of these bars are posing the same way the smug Eurosnob in your office is a huge Italian fan because he's like "7th generation Italian dood guy" but still cheers for USA hockey in the Olympics. Or maybe they're more like that intern who thinks she's so worldly because she spent a semester at University College Bristol and "fell in love with the Three Lions. Oh that Stevie G! He's the best! Eng-er-land!"
Seriously, you're going to go to a restaurant or bar near Fenway for the World Cup when there is a Red Sox game on next door? Um, hello. Those places will be Pink Hat central and surely Adolfo will be out asking them what position Jacoby Ellsbury plays. Don't waste your time unless you're going to the House of Blues event because that is somehow related to the 2018/2022 World Cup bid.
There are a few places that people go year round for soccer in town, places that ooze soccer and are true soccer joints. The two places I highly recommend for a USA game during the World Cup (or any game for that matter) are the Banshee Pub in Dorchester and the Phoenix Landing in Cambridge. They're the two biggest Irish pubs in Boston for soccer and they're homes to the local affiliates of a few European supporters clubs including Celtic and Liverpool. The local chapter of the biggest US supporters group, the American Outlaws, go to those bars for every USA game. They even managed to draw crowds there two years ago in the early stages of qualifying when the USA were beating the snot out of CONCACAF minnows like Cuba and Barbados.
Thirsty Scholar on the outskirts of Inman Square isn't a bad venue either but it's pretty far from a subway line. They were featured in the Globe back in 2002 after the US loss to Germany in the quarterfinals.
If you're into the Italian game you should give Cafe Dello Sport in the North End a try. It is a fantastic venue and as close as you can get to authentic Italy without leaving the country. This place shows all the Serie A games throughout
the year and has a knowledgeable customer base when it comes to soccer.
If you're Brazilian or just a front runner then you'll want to try the Midwest Grill near Inman Square in Cambridge. It will be real interesting when they play Portugal in the group stage because there are a few Portuguese sports clubs across the street.
Here are a few ways to figure out you're at a poser soccer bar:
- The don't have Guinness on tap (Italian bars are exempt from this)
- The staff can't name a team other than Manchester United or AC Milan
- The sound isn't on for the games
- It's in Faneuil Hall
- It's by Fenway
- The patrons aren't really paying attention
- They call it the World Soccer Championship
- The World Cup isn't on every TV
Don't be fooled by poser bars that will only show soccer every four years or when none of the major Boston teams are playing. Patronize bars that are soccer friendly year round .
Update: Here are some clips from the Phoenix Landing on Saturday
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