Baltimore soccer bars get ready for Saturday's World Cup game

Baltimore bars and restaurants are loading up on kegs and eggs for this Saturday morning’s World Cup clash between the United States and the Netherlands. The U.S. Men's National Team earned the right to take on the Dutch in the next round of the tournament after holding onto a 1-0 victory over Iran on Tuesday.

The game was one of the most watched men's soccer games in American history, with more than 15.5 million viewers tuning into Fox and Telemundo. Baltimore was among the top five cities across the country that tuned into the game, according to viewership statistics, yet another sign of the building soccer momentum in the region despite Baltimore's failed 2026 World Cup hosting bid. This past summer, Baltimore was the host of an English Premier League friendly game and might even be the future home of a minor league soccer team and a 10,000-person soccer stadium and academy.

The success of the team has not only caught the attention of the country but has also been a boost for bar and restaurant owners in the Baltimore area. The tournament has provided a packed house for times when the establishments would not normally be busy. Many traditional soccer bars, like the Canton Local and Abbey Burger Bistro, as well as other locations with large screens, like Power Plant Live, will open early on Saturday with food and drink deals for fans who come out to cheer on the team decked out in their red, white and blue.

Abbey Burger is an establishment that knows how to host soccer fans. Since opening its first location in Federal Hill in 2008, the bar and burger joint has hosted thousands of soccer fans as the official bar of the fan chapter of the EPL team Arsenal. Of its four locations, three are the official homes of EPL fan clubs. Abbey Burger even worked with the organizers for Baltimore’s 2026 failed World Cup bid. While the burger joint can typically expect 20 to 25 fans for the typical soccer Saturday, owner Marigot Miller said World Cup games fill every seat in the house. Winter is typically a slow season for bars and restaurants, sp Miller said the increase in business is “a real breath of fresh air,” and that it is really nice to see the large crowds. The timing of Saturday's World Cup game did provide one complication though: Abbey Burger doesn't typically serve breakfast, so Miller had to create a special menu for when the bar opens at 9 a.m.

Some Baltimore venues are also capitalizing on the soccer craze. Power Plant Live, an entertainment complex downtown, has seen between 50 to 200 people for the previous World Cup games. With a very large screen at its disposal, Power Plant has partnered with Volo Sports, a locally based social sports league organization, to provide a watch party atmosphere. A spokesperson for Power Plant said the venue expects close to 300 people to come out and watch on Saturday.

Kickoff for the game is at 10 a.m., but those who want to sit and not stand are encouraged to arrive early, said Andrew Geckle, a Baltimore Business Journal member and social media manager for Baltimore's chapter of the American Outlaws, the unofficial fan organization for the U.S. national teams, with more than 200 local chapters around the globe. The club will gather at Canton Local, the group's official bar, again on Saturday. “For these games, it is standing room only, it is just crazy packed," Geckle said. "If you don’t get there right when the bar opens, you aren’t able to find a seat."

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