CINCINNATI -- Think sports don't matter?
Tell that to the more than 3 billion people who plan to watch at least one of the games during the month-long World Cup in Brazil. The tournament runs through July 13.
Even though the U.S. isn't likely to go far during the tournament, as many so-called experts predict them to fall in the opening round, a large portion of those viewers are expected to come from the States.
One of the largest contingents of U.S. men's national team (USMNT) fans reside in the Tri-State, which had some of the most impressive viewership numbers during the 2010 event in South Africa.
If you want to be one of the billions, here the best sports bars, soccer-friendly eateries and World Cup events that will allow soccer fans from across Greater Cincinnati to feel like they're in Sao Paulo.
Molly Malone's (Covington) –- It's the official venue for the Cincinnati chapter of the American Outlaws, the primary support group of the U.S. men's national team.
Fans will be decked out in red, white and blue and chanting as though they're in Brazil when the U.S. side takes the pitch June 16 in their World Cup opener against Ghana.
Attendees will feel a lot closer than 5,000 miles away.
Get there early, though. Last World Cup (2010) saw people waiting outside for well more than an hour for a chance to get inside to taste the traditional pub fare and dark beer served by bar staff with thick Irish accents.
Did I mention the bar has three floors? That's a lot of soccer fans.
“The bartenders, the staff, the people who come here really know about soccer and love the game,” said owner Paul Shanley. “They’ll talk about soccer all day long – it just adds to it.”
But you don't have to wait until Monday to head over to the bar on E. Fourth Street. They got things started on Day 1.
Guinness gave away two free tickets to the Manchester United-Real Madrid match in Ann Arbor (Aug. 2) to the person who successfully correctly guessed the minute the first goal of the match was scored.
Need some soccer gear to really get into the mood? Molly Malone's has you covered. The bartenders said World Soccer Shop is setting up a temporary store on the first floor of the bar for Team USA matches.
Rhinehaus (Over-the-Rhine) – A relative newcomer to the local sports bar scene, Rhinehaus set out to find a niche as a soccer pub from the time it opened in early 2013.
And in a little more than a year, it's done just that.
Featuring more than a dozen large flat-screen TVs, the tiny bar on 12th Street has more than enough screens to accommodate the couple hundred sports fans who squeeze into the intimate space. It doesn't hurt that it's the only sports bar in OTR.
Rhinehaus kicked off their World Cup coverage with a PlayStation 3 FIFA tournament on Wednesday night, but the real fun and games didn't get started until Thursday afternoon with the Brazil-Croatia match.
“The whole idea was to create a place where real fans could come and watch the games with people who care just as much as they do,” general manager Mark Farris said, adding that the bar was at capacity for Brazil's 3-1 win. “It’s amazing how people have responded.
The bar promises to be open for every game during the Cup.
While it doesn't offer food, there's plenty of beer -- great beer -- and the neighborhood/dive bar feel blends in well with the neighborhood.
The bar also partnered with Listermann Brewing to produce a special 20-ounce glass that includes the a American flag design as well as the famous Team USA chants.
If you bring back in the glass during any afternoon or U.S. game you'll get happy-hour prices on all Listermann beers, Farris said.
You can also order food from one of the numerous nearby take-out places if you need something to soak up brews you've consumed.
Next page: Some places you might not have thought of
Hap's Irish Pub (Hyde Park) – Dubbed by some as Cincinnati's original soccer bar, Hap's is an authentic Irish public house with the traditional beverages and pageantry to delight even the most ardent soccer fans.
While it doesn't draw as well for club matches as other bars in the city, the Erie Avenue pub lures in great crowds for the World Cup and the European Championships.
"This is a great place to watch the World Cup. Lots of animated locals cheering for one team or the other," wrote Scott M. in a Yelp! review of the bar.
While it can feel cramped, reviewer Elizabeth T. didn't seem to mind.
"No food, no waiters, and not much space. Although there is a back patio that can expand (meaning people just spill into the alley) for big events like St. Patrick's Day or World Cup matches," she wrote.
In terms of TV watching, it's not as glamorous as some of the other venues on the list, but the authentic feel of the space, and the passion and knowledge of the bar-goers makes it a worthwhile destination for those in the area.
Cock & Bull (Covington, Glendale and Hyde Park) – I know what you're thinking: Another English/Irish pub? But they belong there.
Both C&B locations have big TVs, good TVs and great drinks, so you won't be left wanting in any of those categories.
While a sports bar, the devotedness to soccer might be in question, at least according to Yelp! reviewer Angela C.
We went to watch a soccer game (US v Argentina). My husband google-searched soccer bars and Cock and Bull was listed. It's NCAA time, so it was understandable that basketball was on most of the many TVs they had. There was only one small screen playing the soccer game, so we asked if they could put it on one of the four large TV screens. The person in charge of the TVs said that they couldn't because some guys at the bar were watching the basketball game and that he'd change it if they left. This was irritating.
It's a good thing there won't be any real challenges to the World Cup.
They're also more low-key than some of the other places on this list so you can enjoy the game in public, but people aren't as likely to get rowdy. Although the Hyde Park location is the more "spirited" (pardon the pun) of the two.
Do we dare use the phrasing of family-friendly when describing a bar for World Cup soccer watching?
So, in this case it really just comes down to what you want out of a bar: a more rah-rah experience or a place to sit down, relax and enjoy the game.
The choice is yours.
Buffalo Wild Wings – Alright, so it's not a traditional soccer bar and offers as much local flare as a microwavable pizza. For most purists that's two strikes right there.
But it's a good thing there are no strikes in soccer (or football, if you prefer).
What makes the Buffalo Wild Wings location on Calhoun Avenue a great World Cup bar is the fact it's always full so you can expect a great, sports-loving crowd every time you go in. That's even the case for afternoon games.
And because of the considerable international student population at the university, many of whom stay in the city over the summer, you're bound to see a variety of jerseys worn on game day.
Here's what Louise D. had to say on Yelp!:
"The advantage of this bar is that it has several big screens to watch sports games on. I came here to watch the Champions League finals between Bayern Munchen and Chelsea and for that it was perfect. I can't complain about the drinks either."
Bonus: Fountain Square (Downtown) – Fountain Square will come alive for each of the three U.S. group games (June 16 vs Ghana, June 22 vs. Portugal and June 26 vs. Germany). The watch party will include drinks, games for the kids, a live World Cup-centric podcast and giveaways are all in store.
Organizers are hoping to turn this into one of the largest watch parties in the country.