Thousands in US turn out to watch World Cup match

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Thousands in US turn out to watch World Cup match
US President Barack Obama and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett (L) watch the 2014 World Cup match between the US and Germany while en route to Minnepolis, Minnesota on June 26, 2014. Obama is heading to Minneapolis, Minnesota to hold a town hall meeting and to attend a fundraiser. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A US fan holds a flag prior to the group G World Cup soccer match between the USA and Germany at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Thursday, June 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A US fan lifts his beer mug prior to the group G World Cup soccer match between the USA and Germany at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Thursday, June 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
United States fans cheer while watching a broadcast of a 2014 World Cup soccer match between the United States and Germany at a public viewing party in San Francisco, Thursday, June 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Alex Dubin, 17, center top, reacts with other United States fans while watching the 2014 World Cup soccer match between the United States and Germany at a public viewing party in San Francisco, Thursday, June 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Fans watch a World Cup soccer match between the United States and Germany Thursday, June 26, 2014, from an alley in Seattle's historic Pioneer Square neighborhood. "Nord Alley" has been the site of large-screen viewing parties for World Cup games every match day. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Fans draped in flags watch the World Cup Soccer match between the United States and Germany at a local bar, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Thousands of eager Americans set work aside on Thursday _ with or without their bosses’ OK _ to watch the key World Cup match. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
US fans watching from Hermosa Beach, California, on June 26, 2014 react to Thomas Muller's goal for Germany against the United States during their first round match at the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 26: Thousands of soccer fans gather in Dupont Circle park to watch the US v Germany World Cup match June 26, 2014 in Washington, United States. The German Embassy in the United States provided two large-screen televisions for fans of both teams to watch the last game of the 'Group of Death' match. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 26: Fans watch USA play Germany in a World Cup soccer match on one of two large screens placed for fans in Grant Park on June 26, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Organizers expected as many as 20,000 people to watch the game in the park. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 26: Fans watch USA play Germany in a World Cup soccer match on one of two large screens placed for fans in Grant Park on June 26, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Organizers expected as many as 20,000 people to watch the game in the park. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 26: Maria Pena watches USA play Germany in a World Cup soccer match on one of two large screens placed for fans in Grant Park on June 26, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Organizers expected as many as 20,000 people to watch the game in the park. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - JUNE 26: A fan of Germany walkes with the American and German flag to the see the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between USA and Germany at public viewing at the Commerzbank Arena on June 26, 2014 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 26: Juan Aguirre watches USA play Germany in a World Cup soccer match on one of two large screens placed for fans in Grant Park on June 26, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Organizers expected as many as 20,000 people to watch the game in the park. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 26: A mong a sea of Americans a Geman watches USA play Germany in a World Cup soccer match on one of two large screens placed for fans in Grant Park on June 26, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Organizers expected as many as 20,000 people to watch the game in the park. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 26: Alexis Ceja watches USA play Germany in a World Cup soccer match on one of two large screens placed for fans in Grant Park on June 26, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Organizers expected as many as 20,000 people to watch the game in the park. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 26: Aaron Onion watches USA play Germany in a World Cup soccer match on one of two large screens placed for fans in Grant Park on June 26, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Organizers expected as many as 20,000 people to watch the game in the park. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 26: Lindsey Wett watches USA play Germany in a World Cup soccer match on one of two large screens placed for fans in Grant Park on June 26, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Organizers expected as many as 20,000 people to watch the game in the park. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - JUNE 26: A fan of USA walks with the flag during the public viewing of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between USA and Germany at the Commerzbank Arena on June 26, 2014 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 26: Thousands of soccer fans gather in Dupont Circle park to watch the US v Germany World Cup match June 26, 2014 in Washington, United States. The German Embassy in the United States provided two large-screen televisions for fans of both teams to watch the last game of the 'Group of Death' match. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Germany's midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger (R) speaks with fans after a Group G football match between US and Germany at the Pernambuco Arena in Recife during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 26, 2014. AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 26: Brandon Schwarz watches USA play Germany in a World Cup soccer match on one of two large screens placed for fans in Grant Park on June 26, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Organizers expected as many as 20,000 people to watch the game in the park. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 26: Fans watch USA play Germany in a World Cup soccer match on one of two large screens placed for fans in Grant Park on June 26, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Organizers expected as many as 20,000 people to watch the game in the park. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
US fans celebrate at Dupont Circle in Washington as the USA, despite losing to Germany, advances to the Round of 16 in the Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup. Germany won the Group G match 1-0. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 26: American supporters cheer before the start of the U.S.-Germany match at FIFA Fan Fest on June 26, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The U.S. was tied with Germany 0-0 at halftime. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 26: United States fans cheer in the rain prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil group G match between the United States and Germany at Arena Pernambuco on June 26, 2014 in Recife, Brazil. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 26: A fan of the United States looks on prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil group G match between the United States and Germany at Arena Pernambuco on June 26, 2014 in Recife, Brazil. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
US fans await the US play Germany in a 2014 FIFA World Cup Group G match, at Dupont Circle in Washington on June 26, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
US fans watch the US play Germany in a 2014 FIFA World Cup Group G match, at Dupont Circle in Washington on June 26, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 26: A fan of the United States looks on in the rain during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil group G match between the United States and Germany at Arena Pernambuco on June 26, 2014 in Recife, Brazil. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JUNE 26: Gonalo Tedesco 28 years old, hods his flag as he watches the USA take on Germany. Fans gather at the Thirsty Lion June 26, 2014 watch the US play Germany in World Cup competition in Recife. (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
US fans react as they watch the US play Germany in a 2014 FIFA World Cup Group G match, at Dupont Circle in Washington on June 26, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 26: American supporters stand before the start of the U.S.-Germany match broadcast at FIFA Fan Fest on June 26, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The U.S. was tied with Germany 0-0 at halftime. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 26: An United States fans look on in the rain prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil group G match between the United States and Germany at Arena Pernambuco on June 26, 2014 in Recife, Brazil. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 26: United States fans look on in the rain prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil group G match between the United States and Germany at Arena Pernambuco on June 26, 2014 in Recife, Brazil. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 26: An United States fans look on prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil group G match between the United States and Germany at Arena Pernambuco on June 26, 2014 in Recife, Brazil. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
US fans cheers as they await the US play Germany in a 2014 FIFA World Cup Group G match, at Dupont Circle in Washington on June 26, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 26: United States fans look on in the rain prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil group G match between the United States and Germany at Arena Pernambuco on June 26, 2014 in Recife, Brazil. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 26: An United States fans look on in the rain prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil group G match between the United States and Germany at Arena Pernambuco on June 26, 2014 in Recife, Brazil. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Football fans walk through the pouring rain as they arrive at the stadium prior to a Group G football match between US and Germany at the Pernambuco Arena in Recife during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 26, 2014. AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 26: United States fans cheer in the rain prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil group G match between the United States and Germany at Arena Pernambuco on June 26, 2014 in Recife, Brazil. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama and White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett watch the World Cup soccer match between US and Germany in the conference room aboard Air Force One enroute to Minnesota, Thursday, June 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama and White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett watch the World Cup soccer match between US and Germany aboard Air Force One enroute to Minnesota, Thursday, June 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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By Luke Meredith
AP Sports Writer

It's a time-honored American tradition for employees to scramble for excuses whenever work gets in the way of the big game.

These days, more and more companies want workers to watch it in the office rather than call in sick.

Thousands of eager Americans set work aside on Thursday - with or without their bosses' OK - to watch the U.S. men's soccer team play Germany in a key World Cup match.

Oh, So Now America Cares About Soccer?


Fans flocked to official watch parties in places like Chicago's Grant Park, Washington's Dupont Circle and Boston's City Hall Plaza. Many more took part in supervisor-approved, morale-boosting breaks at the office.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation hosted a party for its staff of about 100 with a TV and food. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved an extra hour of lunch for all state employees so they could watch the second half.

Matt Rogers of the Washington-based Urban Institute, which held a party for its 400 employees, said the World Cup is a great way to build office relationships.

"We don't have many moments where you can find a common interest among a big chunk of that population. Sports, and in particular a World Cup-type event with a national team - and tense and dramatic sporting moments - really bring people together," Rogers said.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann even posted an online note for people to give to their bosses. It asked managers to excuse staff to watch the game for the good of the nation.

"By the way, you should act like a good leader and take the day off as well. Go USA!" he wrote.

At the Department of Transportation in Washington, officials were concerned that so many employees would watch the match online from their desks that it would slow down the agency's computer network.

"We are going to monitor bandwidth utilization throughout the day and we'll plan to block the streaming sites should we encounter any network issues," Todd Simpson, the department's associate chief information officer, warned in an email to workers.

John Challenger, the CEO of executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., estimated Thursday's match could cost U.S. companies $390 million in lost wages.

But Challenger added that in an era of increasingly scattered workplaces, an investment in something that brings staffers together might not be such a bad idea.

"It's what I would call a good buy for companies," Challenger said. "It's just like if you invite your team out to have drinks after work. You're spending it on enhanced morale...and trust among your people."
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