World Cuppage: Netherlands 2 - Denmark 0; Going Dutch at the Scottish Arms

click to enlarge Netherlands fans cheer for goals...and pasties. - photos by Keegan Hamilton
photos by Keegan Hamilton
Netherlands fans cheer for goals...and pasties.
The clock just struck 7 a.m. and there's beer and pasties all over the place.

No, it's not the end of a debauched night at a strip club in Sauget. It's Monday morning World Cup soccer at the Scottish Arms.

The "pasty," in this instance, is a fluffy, flaky croissant-like creation stuffed with bacon, eggs and cheddar cheese. It resembles a calzone in size and shape and, when paired with a Harp lager hair of the dog, it is the perfect antidote for a hangover sustained by drinking one too many beers at the Shakespeare in the Park production of Hamlet.

Unfortunately, it seems something is rotten in the state of Denmark in the soccer world as well as on the stage.
click to enlarge The Queen of Holland was at the Scottish Arms on Monday
The Queen of Holland was at the Scottish Arms on Monday
Matched against perennial powerhouse the Netherlands, the Danes played abysmally. They flailed and flopped in the penalty area and failed to keep possession of the ball or threaten on counterattacks. They gave up an own-goal when defender Simon Poulsen headed a ball off the back of teammate Daniel Agger and into the net on a cross from Holland's Robin van Persie.

Not that the Dutch were much better. Save for the inspired play of substitute Eljero Elia, it was hardly the "total football" of the Netherlands' vaunted Clockwork Orange teams of yore. Stymied by a defensive-minded Danish (coming soon to a supermarket bakery near you!) squad, the Netherlands managed just one shot on goal in the entire first half.

The contingent of Dutch supporters at the Arms -- a dozen or so, mostly middle-aged couples decked out in orange -- seemed struck by the same malaise as their national team. Sipping coffees and munching on pasties, they talked strategy ("They need to utilize open space!") and the offside rule. They all said they hailed from the Holland originally and when asked how long they lived in the States they looked at each other, shook their heads and agreed "too long."
click to enlarge Just a quick nap before the start of the second half
Just a quick nap before the start of the second half
When their forward Dirk Kuyt tapped in a rebound of the woodwork in the 85th minute to seal the victory, they applauded calmly and gave each other gentle high-fives. To be fair, it was 90 degrees with 94 percent humidity outside at a time of day when most people are still hitting their snooze buttons. That's not exactly a recipe for enthusiasm.

Perched on a bar stool and nursing a coffee, Arms owner Alistair Nisbet contrasted the scene to Saturday's USA-England match when the bar had to turn away 150 customers because they were already packed beyond capacity.

"The atmosphere was just...crazy," Nisbet said, pausing dramtically as if remembering some epic battle. "My goal was toz see every match of the tournament but after Saturday I just couldn't get up for Slovenia's match [at 6:30 a.m.] on Sunday."

At least the Slovenia game -- a 1-0 victory -- had some excitement. When teams play as lethargically as the Netherlands and Denmark, it's hard to see why anyone would get up at the crack of dawn to watch. Then again, that's where the hot pasties and beer come in.

Wanna know where to watch the World Cup in St. Louis? Click here for the 22 best spots.
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