SAN JOSE--Greg Mast got everything right Thursday morning. He arrived for the USA-Germany World Cup soccer match early. He took his perfectly positioned seat, which he had already reserved, at the Britannia Arms sports bar. And he predicted Germany would win.

"Here's the drama," the retired Marine and military nonfiction writer said. "When the tournament started nobody gave the U.S. a chance. This would be the greatest achievement for the U.S. team ever."

Germany won the hard-fought game, "1 to nil" as the Brits would say. But that narrow margin of loss in a rain-drenched stadium in Recife, Brazil, was enough to promote the American team to the second round of the tournament anyway. Portugal and Ghana, their valiant adversaries in the Group of Death, were left to wonder how the upstart Americans advanced out of group play with the Germans and they didn't.

Portugal fan Judy Amarante stood out in her red and green jersey in a standing-room-only, red-white-and-blue crowd of over 500 soccer fans at the downtown sports bar. A U.S. citizen, she was rooting for both the American and Portuguese teams to advance, but that would have required the U.S. to beat Germany by a mile.

"I'm the only Portuguese fan" at the pub, the schoolteacher from San Jose said, "and I believe in miracles."

She'll now throw all of her rooting energy behind the U.S., where she was born and raised.

At Pete's Brass Rail and Car Wash in Danville, fans streamed inside about a half-hour before the game began, decked out in a variety of red, white and blue outfits.


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"I'm cheering on the United States and these mimosas," said Dani Potts, of San Ramon, a former soccer player at Santa Clara University. She was at the restaurant with her mother and another friend and didn't seem entirely thrilled that the United States had spent much of the game on its heels in defensive mode.

"Our goalie is such a stud," she said of U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard, who made more than a few sensational saves.

Not everybody in the joint was rooting for the United States. Tucked away on the far side of the bar were three fans pulling for the Germans.

"All my family is from Germany, so I've just been raised a fan of German soccer," said Jonathan Reimer, 31, of Walnut Creek, who sported a German flag. "It's been an excellent game. I'm a United States fan, too."

The New Parkway Theater in Oakland quickly filled up with fans.

Justin Anderson, an Oakland high school teacher on summer break, ordered a mimosa for his wife and a coffee and a beer for himself.

"The combination of the two will put me at even," Anderson said.

USA soccer fans react to another near miss as they watch the second half of a World Cup match between the United States and Germany, at the New Parkway
USA soccer fans react to another near miss as they watch the second half of a World Cup match between the United States and Germany, at the New Parkway Theater in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, June 26, 2014. (D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group)

It seemed, however, most fans at the Uptown District theater did not have the day off work. A theater employee advised those playing hooky from work that they could punch in by remote device: "Wi-Fi is on if you need to 'work' today."

Inside, fans in everyday attire outnumbered those wearing red, white and blue. More sipped coffee than knocked back beers. The theater actually ran out of coffee mugs. Back at Britannia Arms in San Jose, Greg Mast and his wife, Vernie, thought the U.S. team had earned advancement to the knockout round by battling vaunted Germany tough and close.

"We played as well as could be expected against a great German team," Vernie Mast said. Her husband said the Americans should have a better chance of winning their next match on Tuesday.

Before surrendering his prized seat at the sports bar, Greg Mast said, "Tuesday afternoon, 1 o'clock, we're here!"

Contact Joe Rodriguez at 408-920-5767. Follow him at Twitter.com/joerodmercury.