World Cup fever hit Winona early Friday morning. A group of bleary-eyed soccer fans convened just after dawn at a local bar. They went to watch the US face off against Germany in the quarterfinals of the World Cup. But despite all of the support, the US team's best showing at the World Cup in 72 years came to end.
Loyal Winona soccer fans spread out in front of a wide screen TV. It was 6:30 am, time for the kickoff in the World Cup match between the US and Germany. Heavy storms and water-clogged streets couldn't keep people away.
Denny Rollmann was in the crowd. Rollmann coaches his daughter's soccer team and occasionally referees matches. He says he was at Schneipps Bar and Restaurant because he was curious.
"I just wanted to see what kind of maniacs come out to a bar at 6 in the morning to watch soccer," he grinned
Across the way Jodi Dansingburg watched the blue and white shirted players move the ball across the electric green field. Dansingburg organized the gathering. Early into the game's first half, she was pumped.
My hopes are that we can show Germany that we can play a strong game for the whole game. I don't think anybody expected us to get this far. We have couple players out there that are 20 years old and its they're first world cup and if we can show we can play a mature game we'll be saying something even if we don't win.
Then it happened. Thirty-nine minutes into the match Germany scored. The ball was in the net in South Korea, but they felt the pain in Winona.
Several people gasped out loud
Yet with plenty of time on the clock the crowd remained hopeful. The US team was very much in the game.
During half time, nine-year-old Sylvia Thomas gave the US team a thumbs up.
"I think they're passing pretty well," she said. "And getting the ball away from Germany pretty well."
Thomas plays the game herself. She was wearing her team shirt for the occasion. She even brought her dad, Doug Nopar.
"We haven't been that involved as a family," he says, "but our kids like to play and its kind of fun for them to see something that some people in the United States are nuts about."
As time went on the tension built. With Germany still leading 1-0, the crowd remained confident the US could reverse the trend.
Jodi Dansingburg was tense as the final seconds of the game ticked away. The US tried one last time.
"This is it! Come on! Go for it! Go! Go! Go!"
The crowd groans as the US shot went by the post.
"We lost," Dansingburg said. "That's it."
Her daughter Heather was also disappointed. Heather spent most of the game perfecting a large red blue US victory poster.
"I think we played we the best you could," she says. "I'm still pretty proud of them even though we didn't win."
Heather says she'll save the poster for the Women's World Cup tournament scheduled for next year.