We are a mere four years away from hosting the FIFA Men’s World Cup for the first time since 1994, so it’s more important than ever to jump on the global soccer bandwagon. There’s no better way for curious potential fans to learn about and experience the sights, sounds and action of this international tournament than to go to a watch party. And soccer aficionados will admit that the most fun way to watch a match, if you can’t be there live, is to go to a watch party. To be frank, before coming to Los Angeles, I moved around a lot and in every city I’ve ever lived in, I ended up frequenting soccer bars because they’re the best places for a girl like me to safely meet people and make friends.
First, the matches begin this Sunday between Qatar and Ecuador, not Monday with the U.S. versus Wales. Yes, we live in the United States, and yes, the U.S. National Men’s and Women’s teams are my primary teams, but most who watch the World Cup have more than one team they root for. Okay, perhaps this is partly because in my formative years, the United States was not the strongest of teams on the international playing field. But also, most soccer fans in this country still have a second and maybe even a third team based on the players they enjoy following throughout their club soccer seasons.
Let me take you back a bit into the history of the U.S. in the World Cup. You’ve likely heard our nation did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup but did you know they played in the first edition of the World Cup in 1930, and that we finished in third place? Four years later, the U.S. did not make it through the group of 16. Then, in 1938, the United States withdrew from the tournament entirely. Afterwards, the U.S. returned to the playing field in the first post-World War II tournament in Brazil in 1950 (which was just the fourth World Cup). But then, finished last in the group. And I regret to inform you (if you didn’t know), it would be another 40 years before the U.S. returned.
From 1990 to 2018, the United States men’s team advanced from the group stages on every attempt except in 1990, 1998 (where they finished last out of the 32 qualified nations), and 2006. In 2010 and 2014 they reached the final 16, but lost in the next stage. Overall, after that inaugural 1930 World Cup, America’s best performance was in 2002, when they defeated Portugal and Poland in the group stage, and then Mexico 2-0 in the round of 16, before Germany knocked Team USA out in the quarter-final round.
Supporting the U.S. MNT is basically a duty for sports fans in the United States at this stage of the game. A failure to make it past the group stage would be a devastating blow for the next hosts of the World Cup, especially after failing to qualify for the tournament in Russia in 2018. It seems trite to say, but the world is watching.
But, back to my initial point. This Sunday is relevant for Los Angeles for two reasons. First, LAFC have 3 of their MLS Cup winning team members playing for Ecuador as they face the hosts of the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup.
And, second, Los Angeles has the 5th largest population of Ecuadorians in the nation. I like to view these global tournaments as showcases for the celebration of diversity in the United States. Our melting pot comes alive with color, with sound, with a vibrancy we are uniquely poised for. I’ve also lived in Spain during a World Cup and can say while it was cool listening to neighbors shoot fireworks off their balcony whenever Spain scored, I prefer being here where I can see, here and be immersed in multiple cultures at once.
So, this Sunday, wake up at 7am, wipe the complaints from your bleary eyes, go directly to one of these pubs below and order yourself a cup of coffee (make it an Irish coffee to keep yourself buzzing from the night before if you must), sit down next to a stranger with a jersey on and just keep an open mind. Let the atmosphere build around you. Die-hards will come early, most people will arrive sometime after the first 30 minutes and remember, it’s likely under two hours of your Sunday morning. You can go back to bed and nap afterwards. I give you permission to start your World Cup adventures this year because you are promised a lot more in four years. Los Angeles is, after all, one of the host cities of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will also be the first time the tournament will be held across an entire continent.
Below are my recommendations for watch parties and soccer pubs with their own watch ‘parties’. I don’t feel comfortable sending people to screening rooms and other venues where they ask you for money to enter, so all these are free. I’ll update this list as more are announced.
Boomtown Brewery in the Arts District is an official U.S. Men’s National Team watch party site and will open early on Nov. 21, 25 and 29 to show all U.S. matches. They’ll also show all other games that happen during their regular business hours.
Saturday, Nov. 26, 9 a.m. Mexico vs. Argentina Fan Fest 2022 watch party at L.A. State Historic Park.
Ye Ole Kings Head (one of my favorite haunts in Los Angeles for all soccer all over the world… and the bonus here is they will show all matches, at least during week 1):
The Greyhound Bar & Grill – Both locations will be showing all USMNT, Mexico and England matches
LA Galaxy watch parties: They have something for almost everyone! The watch parties will kick off at Dignity Health Sports Park’s Legends Plaza when the U.S. Men’s National Team squares off against Wales on Monday, Nov. 21. The match begins at 11:00 a.m. PT with doors opening at 10:00 a.m. PT for the watch party. Drink specials will be available to fans.
LA Galaxy are also hosting an entire series of watch parties at the Hermosa Beach Pier – what could be better than sunshine, soccer and a free watch party?
- Netherlands match against Ecuador on Friday, Nov. 25 (8:00 a.m. PT)
- United States Men’s National Team’s match against England on Friday, Nov. 25 (11:00 a.m. PT)
- France’s game against Denmark on Saturday, Nov. 26 (8:00 a.m. PT)
- Mexico’s game against Argentina on Saturday, Nov. 26 (11:00 a.m. PT)
Event attendees are encouraged to bring clear, stadium-approved bags only.
On Tuesday, Nov. 29, Tom’s Watch Bar (1011 S Figueroa St b101, Los Angeles, CA 90015) will air the USMNT’s match against Iran beginning at 11:00 a.m. PT. If the USMNT advance past the Group Stage in the FIFA World Cup, additional watch parties will be hosted at Dignity Health Sports Park’s Legends Plaza.
LAFC, meanwhile, announced two of their own watch parties:
Monday’s game between the USMNT and Wales will be at Santa Monica Brew Works. I’m sorry to have to tell you the Mexico-Poland match is sold out for now… unless they release more seats. But here is a link with the information for both events.
The American Outlaws always know how to host a World Cup Watch Party and these are at Underdogs Sports Bar in Glendale. I trust AO implicitly. Worth it if you have the day off from work and are on the east side!