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Kickin' It in Queens as Spain Advances to World Cup Final

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

This afternoon, Spain made history by defeating Germany 1-0 and reaching the World Cup Final for the first time.

Germany came in to the match as the favorite, riding on huge victories over Argentina (4-1) and England (4-0). The winning streak came to an end when the Germans failed to come back after a 73rd minute goal by Spanish defender Carles Puyol.

At the Casa Galicia, a private Spanish social club located on 31st Avenue and 37th Street in Astoria, Queens, fans were ecstatic.

“What a game!,” said Chris Vasquez. “This is what we’ve been waiting for our whole life.”

Like many other members of the Casa Galicia, Vasquez’s parents immigrated to the United States from Spain. During the game, recent Spanish immigrants mingled with 2nd and 3rd generation families, some of whom don’t speak any Spanish, but come to the club to watch games and maintain their cultural connection.

The Casa Galicia was founded in 1940 to serve immigrants from Galicia, a rural region in Northern Spain. Previously, the club was located in the East Village in the building that now houses Webster Hall. The club moved to Queens in 1994. Its 2,000 members come for events from around the five boroughs, as well as surrounding New York City suburbs.

After the game, young Spanish-Americans waved Spanish flags and played traditional Galician bagpipes in the streets, setting down Astoria’s Steinway Street in celebration.

Spain will go on to face the Netherlands in the final game this Sunday, July 11. Neither of the two finalists have ever won a World Cup. 

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PLUS: WNYC sent a producer to Loreley, a German restaurant and beergarden in the Lower East Side, to talk to fans at the end of the game. Watch the audio slideshow.

Marlon Bishop

0’ The Casa Galicia, located in Astoria Queens, serves as a community center for 2,000 Spaniards and Spanish-Americans, who gather here for social events  - especially soccer games.

Marlon Bishop

21’ The club contains a private bar and restaurant that serves Galician beer and Spanish tapas. Twenty-one minutes into game and no score on either side, the atmosphere is tense.

Marlon Bishop

23’ The last time Spain made it as far as the semifinals was in 1950, in Brazil.

Marlon Bishop

32’ “This is like being in Spain, without being in Spain. This is closest you get,” says Manuel Rodriguez.

Marlon Bishop

34’ While many Casa Galicia members were born in Spain, many are 2nd or 3rd generation descendents of Spanish immigrants. “A lot these young people were born here, but you get the feeling they are really Spanish,” says Rodriguez.

Marlon Bishop

39 Still no score.

Half-time “So far it’s been wonderful,” says long-time Casa Galicia member Juan Lino. “I’m actually pleasantly surprised how well Spain is playing.”

Half-time Some people took off from work to come watch the game.

Half-time “I think we might beat Germany,” says Maureen Campos. “I think they have youth and energy, but we have a great passing game.” Maureen’s father was born in Barcelona. They come to watch games at the club every weekend.

50’ The game resumes.

73’ Spain scores! Goal from defender Carles Puyol.

73’ “It’s the experience of a lifetime to be here with all these people. It’s electrifying,” says Juan Lino, who immigrated from Galicia as a young boy.

73’ “I’m 58 years old, so I think this is the last time I’ll see Spain get this far in my lifetime,” says Manuel Rodriguez.

75’ Chris Vasquez, second-generation Spaniard makes a call to tell the news of the goal.

79’ “What a game!” says Chris Vasquez, passing a plate of shrimp as Germany counter-attacks in search of an equalizer.

85’ With less than ten minutes to spare and Spain in the lead, the room is quiet as onlookers pray Germany doesn’t get a goal to tie the match.

88’ As the clock ticks down, the mood becomes more and more celebratory.

90’ + 2’ It’s almost over, and Manuel Rodriguez makes a toast.

End SPAIN WINS! For the first time in history, they will appear in the World Cup final, facing off against the Netherlands.

End Outside, a young Spanish-American plays a traditional Galician bagpipe to the tune of  the soccer chant “Ole, Ole, Ole.”

End Cars pass one after another honking horns and flying Spanish flags. The younger generation heads off down Steinway to the Astoria beer garden to celebrate.

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