The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team played Portugal to a 0-0 draw to narrowly advance to the elimination rounds of the Women’s World Cup Tuesday. A loss would have kept the U.S. out of the knockout rounds.
The game allowed for a savvy business opportunity for Central Oregon bars as the match started at 12:00 a.m. Some bars stayed open past their closing time, staffed and ready for some late-night soccer.
“We’re expecting a big crowd,” said Sidelines Sports Bar and Grill manager Jordan Wallace before the game. “We have gotten a lot of calls seeing if we are busy. seeing if we are serving food late.”
“I am expecting really high energy,” said General Manager of River Pig Saloon, Justin Leiva. “The River Pig has always supported athletes, and the U.S. Women’s team is another way of supporting that.”
“Tonight, we are going to stay open for the duration of the game,” said Wallace. “You know if it goes into overtime, we are going to stay open. It just depends on the game, but we will be here.”
Fans were confident heading into the game.
“Portugal has, I believe, has never scored a goal on the United States in their inner play,” said Raymond Baker of Bend. “So, I am feeling pretty sure that the United States will take this one.”
In the past, sports bar employees say World Cup Games is one of their busiest and loudest times.
“For Women’s World Cup, it is actually our most popular sport we have here,” said Rachel Davis, a waitress and bartender at Sidelines.
“This last game they had against the Netherlands, there was a lot of screaming, yelling,” said Leiva. “You could hear it from the restaurants next door. It was extremely high energy.”
“This is a huge sports bar destination in our town, and we want to keep it that way,” Wallace said. “That’s how we keep people coming back because we are always going to be open for every sports event.”
“We’ll have some drink specials, and we will have a dollar off each drink if you come down and support the Women’s U.S. team, said Leiva.
By Oregon Law, alcohol cannot be served after 2:30 a.m. Preliminary round games last about two hours, so that was was not going to be a concern for local bars.