Day for German Pride, and Worries

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Day for German Pride, and Worries

 
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By DAVID M. HALBFINGER and PAUL ZIELBAUER

Divided loyalties are one thing, but $500 will buy a lot of
the beer that Mike Schneider was drinking faster and faster
as Germany's 1-0 margin over the United States looked more
and more likely to hold.

Schneider, 25, runs a cargo-handling crew for Lufthansa at
Kennedy Airport, but yesterday morning he was glued to the
World Cup match on TV in his capacity as a self-styled
investor - the kind who lays down a week's salary against
even money and then prays to the football gods that the
rise of soccer in America will be set back another four
years.

"I called in sick," he said, as the Germans went into their
prevent defense. "But I'm feeling pretty good about now."

So was nearly everybody else at Zum Stammtisch - the name
means the regulars' table - the best-known of the German
restaurants still standing in Glendale, Queens, a
century-old redoubt of Teutonic New York. Across the city,
from Hallo Berlin in Hell's Kitchen to the Heidelberg in
Yorkville, Germans and Germanophiles were cheering and
chanting and chugging along as their three-time World Cup
champions edged America's maybe-sometime challengers, 1-0,
in a quarterfinal match at the World Cup.

The loudest crowd had to have been at Zum Schneider, a
Bavarian-inspired beer hall at Avenue C and Seventh Street
in Manhattan, where at 6 a.m. the line to get in stretched
a good way toward Avenue B. By the 7:30 a.m. kickoff, about
200 soccer fanatics - half of them loyal Germans, the
others, from all over the world, rooting for the upstart
Americans - had jammed themselves beneath four tiny
television sets.

The squeeze was worth it. Inside the moist little bar,
flowing pints of Pilsener and plates of cold cuts
hand-delivered by waitresses with the black, red and gold
of Germany grease-painted on their faces fueled a raucous
but good-natured back-and-forth. For every, "Deutschland!
Deutschland!" there was an equal and opposite, "U.S.A.!
U.S.A.!"

Loyalties and heritages revealed themselves in other ways,
too. While Americans like Dennis Ryan and Chris Webber were
impressed by the German appetite for cigarettes and
early-morning beer (they soon ordered a round for
themselves), a group of youthful immigrants from Berlin and
Munich grew worried that the heavily favored Germans could
lose to the energetic Americans.

A few trendily dressed German men, eyes glued to the
action, held tense cellphone conversations with friends
watching the game in Germany. Each time Oliver Kahn, the
hulking German goalkeeper, dived to save a rifle shot, Zum
Schneider erupted with "Olé! Olé!"

Americans like Ryan, clearly outnumbered, claimed moral
superiority, tut-tutting the Teutons who tippled too much.
After Michael Ballack scored the game's only goal, a
drunken German fan of considerable girth began gyrating
before a cameraman from CNN who had come to record the
scene at the beer hall. "Exhibit A," groused Ryan.

Many in the bar, like Jennifer Franzen, 25, who arrived
from Berlin two weeks ago, said they had foregone sleep
Thursday night to watch the Brazil-England match, which
began at 2:30 a.m., then held on to watch the United States
take on Germany rather than risk a nap and missing some of
the action.

"If they win, I'll drink another beer," Franzen said,
holding a pint of Weiss. "Actually, I'll definitely have
another one either way."

At Zum Stammtisch in Glendale, meanwhile, it seemed that
most of the fans could have rooted either way. All but a
handful were in their 40's or older, and many were former
semi-pro soccer players, like Werner Stirneit, 65, a
retired tool-and-die maker who pulled up his pants legs to
show off his still-beefy calves.

As the Americans kept stealing the ball, breaking away,
taking shots and finally missing, Stirneit would shake his
head in dismay. "Boy, if the U.S. wins, I tell you, this
would be something," he said.

The older men at Zum Stammtisch had their priorities
straight compared to the lads. The game had barely begun
when Herbert Urnelt, 68, shouted out, "Where's the waiters
here? I don't want to get up."

Werner Lehner, 34, the restaurant's owner, hustled over to
Urnelt moments later with a tray of steins full of
Bitburger and Spaten and a shot of Jägermeister.

Urnelt, a retired contractor, said he became an American
citizen a year ago, 42 years after moving to Glendale. "I
root for Germany, but to bring American soccer a little
further - I would've liked America to win, too," he said.

At Zum Schneider across the East River, the celebration
after the game's final whistle included the crowd singing a
tribute to Germany's coach, to the tune of "Guantanamera" -
"One Rudi Völler! There's only one Rudi Völler!"

The sportsmanship, or perhaps the booze, overcame an
exuberant Brazilian woman at the bar, who stripped off her
soccer jersey and swapped it for the T-shirt of a German
fan, who seemed to lose track of the exchange halfway
through.

Then the woman climbed onto the bar, hugging Zum
Schneider's owner, Sylvester Schneider, and dumping beer on
the CNN reporter's head.

The reporter smiled sheepishly and pretended to be happy
about it.


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