For the United States’ second group stage game of the 2010 World Cup, Carmike Cinema in Statesboro served as headquarters for Statesboro’s show of national support.
Over 100 fans made their way to Carmike at the very non-movie-going hour of 10 a.m. to watch the USA take on Slovenia in what proved to be a thrilling 2-2 draw on the shoulders of a huge comeback by the Americans. While many soccer fans may have been watching in the privacy of their own homes, the real party took place inside of the “Mugs and Movies” theater as a celebration erupted after the equalizing goal late in the game.
For all of the popularity that the public screenings have drawn, the idea to show the games at Carmike initially had its roots in stirring up interest in the game among Statesboro’s younger soccer fans.
“I wanted a venue where our kids could get together and watch and learn the game as a group,” said event organizer Sherry Wagner. “This started for the players at William James (Middle School) and Select Soccer. We’re trying to increase the numbers for those teams and this seemed like a good idea to get everybody together and watch some great soccer.”
The kids showed up in force, and — as word spread of the event — dozens of other supporters of the national team were right on their heels.
“I got a text from a friend at two this morning saying that there would be a lot of people here,” said David Schagren, who was decked out in a Ricardo Clark U.S. national team jersey. “I wanted to watch the game with some friends, so I was thinking about heading down to a bar in Savannah. When I heard that Mugs and Movies was showing it, I definitely wanted to come here.”
“Initially, we were just looking for a place for the kids,” said Wagner. “As it turned out, a lot of the adults were interested too. There were so many that wanted to come that we actually had to turn some people away from the first game.”
The early excitement of Friday’s game was quickly dulled as Slovenia took an early lead and then extended the margin to 2-0 shortly before halftime.
Disheartened but still hopeful, the packed theater remained for the second half and was treated to as great a show as any film can provide.
“It makes things more enjoyable to watch the game with a lot of other fans,” said Schagren. “I’ve played soccer all my life and I’ve been a fan all my life. These games are really exciting for me and it makes things even better to be able to come out to the theater and celebrate with so many other fans.”
Carmike Cinema will again open its doors to all who wish to watch the U.S. team’s final group stage game. America will take on Algeria at 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 23.
Carmike also plans to host a viewing party for the World Cup final to be held on July 11 and may also show the second round matchup for the United States if it advances past the group stage.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.