BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - World Cup fever at watch parties in bars and parks around the country has become as much of a spectacle as the soccer itself. That includes in Kern County thanks to the American Outlaws Bakersfield chapter and their founder Isaac St. Lawrence.
The passionate fan club founder by night is actually a pretty normal guy by day.
“Once you get into work, you're pretty focused on that,” Isaac told 23ABC at his law office in downtown Bakersfield on the day the US played Belgium, “I'll focus on work until this time, then I'll focus on the game.”
Isaac's law-office downtown is full of photographs that show that soccer is a priority.
“This is my favorite club team,” Isaac said pointing to a Manchester United framed photo, “I’ve been watching them since I was a kid. I went to the World Cup in Germany in '06 and South Africa in 2010.
But perhaps his favorite photo is the only thing that takes priority over soccer - his family.
“My wife Crystal and my daughter Dempsey,” Isaac said pointing at his family photo, “and yes she is named after Clint Dempsey.”
Little Dempsey's addition to the family is the reason Isaac didn't see big Dempsey's goal in person this World Cup - he would need, a backup plan.
“Nothing can match being inside the stadium,” Isaac explained, “but I figured we could at least get a touch of that and bring a touch to Bakersfield and let the community see what it's like.”
So the man with the pioneering spirit started an American Outlaws U.S. soccer supporters chapter in Bakersfield. The crowds swelled with each game but Tuesday’s World Cup game between the United States and Belgium promised to be the biggest yet.
“I'm happy that this is his passion and he loves it,” Isaac ‘s wife Crystal told 23ABC at Tuesday’s watch party, “obviously Bakersfield agrees.”
The U.S. put up a fight but eventually went two goals down in extra time. The elation of scoring a goal came with a few minutes left in the game but it was too little and too late.
Another world cup is in the books for Isaac but the memories made with A.O. Bako and the Bakersfield soccer community will last a lifetime.
“This was incredible,” Isaac told 23ABC at the end of Tuesday’s heart-breaking defeat, “I am proud of Bakersfield, I am proud of AO Bako, it's pain like this that makes the elation so much greater and, we're not going away.”
A.O. Bako will be having U.S. soccer meet-ups and watch parties throughout the coming year. To sign up, email AOBako@Hotmail.com
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