Claudio Repetto remembers the summer of 2006 well.
He was in a large parking lot watching the World Cup final between his country, Italy, and France – the match where soccer legend Zinedine Zidane headbutted Marco Materazzi and was sent off.
Italy went on to win in a penalty shootout.
“Everyone was there with flags,” Repetto, who plays for local amateur soccer team Med City FC, recalls. “That’s one of the reasons why I’m still playing and I love this game, the feelings it gives you.”
But this year, like the U.S. men’s national soccer team, Italy didn’t make it to the World Cup, currently being played in Russia.
“This year, not being there is – I don’t know how to describe it,” Repetto says. “For us, soccer is the main sport. It felt so great in 2006 and now it feels so bad not to be there.”
In spite of that, Repetto has been watching, as has teammate Tiernan Talbot. The players grew up watching World Cup matches with family members, friends, and teammates. Both are rooting for Spain, but Lourdes High School graduate Talbot has a direct connection to the World Cup.
“My grandma’s 100 percent Spanish,” Talbot explains. “If not USA, I guess I’ll go Spain.”
Not seeing American wonderkid Christian Pulisic and the red, white, and blue in Russia on the world’s stage still hurts.
“Obviously it’s brutal; it’s no fun watching without having your native country in,” Talbot says. The pain is somewhat dulled knowing that in 2026, the U.S. will host the World Cup along with Mexico and Canada.
The 2018 edition of the World Cup has been an entertaining one. Loads of goals have been scored, upsets have been had, and there is a sense that Russia is throwing a proper World Cup party.
And while some matches can be caught via antenna on Fox, and for free in Spanish via the Telemundo En Vivo app, there’s something different, and perhaps better, about cheering amongst other soccer diehards.
Thirsty Belgian owner Jon Carisch is showing every match broadcast during open hours. As an owner of a Belgian beer bar, and with his mother being from Belgium, you can guess who he is rooting for.
“Definitely rooting for Belgium since the U.S. is not involved,” Carisch says. “If Belgium goes to the final, we will do some kind of specials for the game.”
As of press time, Belgium has won its three opening games against weaker opposition easily, scoring nine goals in the process while only conceding three.
Many bars downtown will also turn on the matches, including Dooley’s Pub in Rochester.
Collider Coworking has a unique viewing option. It has a “World Cup and Coworking” plan. The various paid plans allow people to watch streams of the matches and provide a work space with a desk, fiber internet, snacks, and drinks.
“We are definitely enjoying it,” says Collider Coworking community manager Jamie Sundsbak.