Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley and Fabian Johnson all received a hero’s welcome during their homecoming party, their first U.S. stop since Brazil’s World Cup, at the Clevelander Hotel Sunday afternoon.
Fans, decked out in U.S. soccer apparel, as well as sexy variations of red, white and blue, held up signs, chanted “I believe that we will win” and mingled with the guys.
The afternoon started with the national anthem before the players were introduced on stage. Johnson and Beasley stayed mum, but Altidore had a few words for the fans.
“We’re going to get them in Russia,” a confident Altidore said, alluding to the 2018 World Cup location.
After a short and spirited video montage, the players took (too many) selfies and autographed everything from soccer balls and jerseys (some on people’s actual backs) to even a pair of cleats while DJs and dancers kept the Sunday Funday crowd engaged.
Major League Soccer player Eddie Johnson also made a cameo (a few fans recognized him) as a partygoer. The afternoon proved soccer’s growing influence in a country usually seen as an afterthought on the World Cup stage.
At one point, Beasley had his own group of fans chanting his name outside the VIP area – he rewarded them with a bottle of vodka (seriously).
“Americans, we come together very quickly,” Beasley said. “I’m excited, when I’m done playing, to watch and see the young guys do what they love and hopefully get us to a World Cup final.”