Havin' a Ball. Kind Of.

Don't read this if you're going to watch the rebroadcast of the U.S.-Czech Republic World Cup match tonight. On second thought, do read it, because I've got a piece of advice: Don't bother. We were terrible. In 2002, the U.S. made up for inferior individual skills with relentless pressure and superbly coordinated teamwork. In this game, the old weaknesses were still there, but the old strengths were gone.

Painful as watching the 3-0 defeat was, it did allow me to figure out where to go to watch our boys try and redeem themselves against Italy on Saturday. I visited three venues during today's debacle to check out the atmosphere: The Londoner in Addison, Ben's Half Yard in North Dallas and FC Dallas' Pizza Hut Park way the hell up in Frisco (and believe it or not, I don't even get gas money).

The top amenities were without a doubt at Pizza Hut Park. The brand new clubhouse is straight-up posh, with plasma TVs everywhere and ample wait staff distributing food and drink. Lots of people were assuaging their consciences by using the free Wi-Fi to "work" during the game--the considerate FC Dallas folks even set up a copier. There isn't a bad seat in the house, including those that weren't in the house but rather facing the field with its two giant video screens.

My only quibble with PHP is that the atmosphere was a little bit too wholesome to allow for the kind of profanity the U.S. performance called for. For that, the Londoner was the ideal setting. The bar was packed, and the beer was flowing freely even at 11 a.m., and though latecomers would have been hard pressed to find a seat with even a glimpse of a TV, the crowd was old-school football through and through. Sadly, the only time they were motivated to start the "U.S.A." chant was when the camera zoomed in on a hot chick sporting a stars-and-stripes bikini.

Ben's Half Yard brought up the rear, though with its pair of couches and sprawling interior the viewing was better than the Londoner. The problem was that the KDFW-Channel 4 crew filming there made up about a 10th of the crowd by itself. Any atmosphere was limited to the stink of stale beer--though that may have been the perfect aroma to reflect what we were seeing on the screen. --Rick Kennedy

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky