STAMFORD, Conn. -- Robert Warnecke had dual allegiances Thursday afternoon as he staked out a spot in a Stamford bar to watch Team USA take on Germany in the World Cup.
As a German native, he proudly wore the Team Germany jersey. But the Stamford resident also had a small American flag on as he watched Germany defeat the United States, 1-0, in World Cup action at Capriccio Cafe on Bedford Street.
He was accompanied by his wife, Cindy, 25, who came to the United States as a 1-year-old from Colombia. She also wore a Germany jersey in solidarity with her husband.
"We are in a little bit of conflict," Cindy Warnecke said with a laugh about their dual allegiances. "He wants the U.S. to do well because he wants the U.S. to be engaged in soccer as much as the rest of the world."
Although in the end Robert Warnecke was happy both teams advanced, he wasn't impressed with the quality of play Thursday.
"There was no desire to win from both sides," he said about the result that allowed both teams to advance to the next stage. Ghana and Portugal, which are in the same group, were sent home.
Germany and the United States each entered the game with four points. Portugal defeated Ghana, 2-1, in the Thursday match-up, but the U.S. advanced because it has a better goal differential.
Warnecke came to the United States six years ago to work as an au pair in Greenwich. He said the host family sponsored him on a student visa, and he studied at Norwalk Community College. Warnecke, who now works as an administrative assistant at a company in Port Chester, N.Y., met Cindy at a house party not long after he arrived. They were married three years ago.
Lou Pasquino, a proud U.S. supporter, shook hands with Warnecke after the game to thank him for Germany's 4-0 win over Portugal earlier in the round. That loss placed Portugal behind the proverbial eight ball.
That defeat meant Portugal would have to not only win against Ghana but also win big in order to overcome the goal differential.
Over at the adjacent Tigin Irish bar, the fans were more boisterous than the outdoor crowd at Capriccio, with chants of "USA, USA, USA!" and with a final "Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé" breaking out near the end of the game as the U.S. entry into the next round seemed assured.
Two of the revelers at Tigin had jumped into a BMW convertible in Bedford, N.Y., stuck a flag in the back and opted for Stamford rather than Manhattan to watch Thursday's World Cup game.
James Robinson and Alex Effler are both 22, recent university graduates and - more importantly - unemployed. Therefore, they were able to spend a glorious sunny afternoon enjoying a beer and watching the game while their friends with jobs watched the game online at work, they said.
They said they were confident that the U.S. would advance, especially after they saw that neither Ghana nor Portugal were scoring many goals.
"The U.S. was playing defensively," Robinson said. "They knew they were going through on goal difference."
They said the flag in the car attracted a lot of attention as they drove up to the bar.
"A lot of people honked their horns and started clapping when they saw us," Robinson said.