SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — Wearing a sparkly Uncle Sam hat and with the Stars and Stripes draped over his shoulders, Brian Fuqua was among the American fans strolling through The Pelourinho, the historic center of Salvador, about six hours before the United States played Belgium in the World Cup on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old from Denver arrived last month before the Americans' opener against Ghana in Natal to follow the team around Brazil. Despite the tough first-round group that included Portugal and Germany, he bought tickets for the second-round match in Salvador before leaving home.
"I was hopeful and optimistic. I thought maybe we had like a 25 percent, 30 percent chance to get out," he said. "I like Brazil a lot. I'm actually going home on July 17, and I was going to stay no matter what."
If the U.S. had finished first in Group H, the Americans would have skipped Salvador and played Algeria on Saturday in Porto Alegre.
"Had they won the group, I would have looked at the cost to get to Porto Alegre," he said.
American fans in red, white and blue seemed to outnumber red-clad Belgium supporters by about 3 to 1.
Jeremy Rambo, a 27-year-old originally from Laramie, Wyoming, has attended the Americans' first-round games in the northeast Brazilian cities of Natal and Recife. He bought his first-round tickets on FIFA's website and Tuesday's through the American Outlaws supporters group
He plans to stick around for the rest of the tournament.
"If they make it, I might have to go to Brasilia," he said, looking ahead to a potential quarterfinal.
— By Ronald Blum — www.twitter.com/ronaldblum
ETCHED IN MEMORY
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Tattoos are painful, but this one must have hurt even more.
Chilean striker Mauricio Pinilla recently got his 119th-minute World Cup miss against Brazil etched into his back. Next to the image of his shot slamming off the crossbar, it reads: "One centimeter from glory."
Pinilla's tattoo echoes the frustration of most Chileans. Thousands of them jumped up in the stands at Mineirao Stadium — and millions at home — on Saturday in the final moments only to watch Pinilla's shot hit the bar. The story is well-known by now: Brazil ended up winning, Chile was sent home in tears and the post has quickly turned into a loathed symbol of the country's 14-year jinx against Brazil.
The two teams had met three times in previous World Cups, with Brazil winning in the 1962 tournament in Chile, then in France 1998 and South Africa 2010.
— By Luis Andres Henao — www.twitter.com/LuisAndresHenao
SAO PAULO (AP) — The chant resonates throughout the bleachers: "Sui-ca, Sui-ca."
It's the Portuguese word for Switzerland, and those cheering on the Swiss in Tuesday's World Cup round of 16 game are not European fans draped in red but rather dozens of locals dressed in their national team's traditional yellow. The reason for their newfound affection for the Swiss? Their opponent of the day — hated South American rival Argentina.
"It's nice. We are a little country and we need all the support we can get," said Peter Adolf, a 32-year-old fan from Bern, Switzerland. "But we know is it because they hate Argentina."
— By Aron Heller — www.twitter.com/aronhellerap
Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Brazil during the 2014 World Cup. Follow AP journalists covering the World Cup on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_Sports/world-cup-2014