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US National Team Viewing at the Sweetwater – An Interesting Success Story

2009 October 11
by Brian Quarstad


My first trip to the Sweetwater Bar and Grille was after a Minnesota Thunder game back in (I believe) 2004. Saeed Ghasemi, owner of the Sweetwater worked out a deal with a relative who owned the Minnesota Thunder. Soon the Sweetwater had become the post game party location for the Thunder. The visiting players would stay at the Kelly Inn and a food buffet would be set up for Thunder players to eat after the game. Thunder supporters were invited to the bar and grill after games to rub elbows with players and coaching staff.

In those early years many Dark Cloud supporters would head to the Sweetwater to relish a win over a brew or sip an adult beverage while consoling each other over the loss.

During those years and when the team was in St. Paul, I sat at the bar of the Sweetwater with players like MLS goalkeeper Joe Cannon as well as former Rochester Rhinos head coach Laurie Calloway. Calloway bought several of us Dark Cloud supporters a beer and we sat and talked coaching, tactics, the old NASL and anything and everything soccer.

Eventually the Thunder moved back to Blaine and the new Thunder Owners changed the hotel the visiting players stayed in. But the Dark Cloud Thunder supporters found themselves gravitating back to the Sweetwater after games.

The Sweetwater may not have the same vibe that a few of the trendy downtown Minneapolis Euro bars have. But I’ve had some great experiences over the years at the Sweetwater and I can tell you there is no finer place in the Twin Cities to watch a soccer game.


Over 300 US and Honduran soccer fans packed the Sweetwater Bar and Grille

Perhaps the biggest plus over the last several years has been that owner Saeed Ghasemi was incredibly accommodating, filling the bar up with big screen TV’s and getting every soccer channel available including MLS Direct Kick. Saeed is a huge soccer fan, playing and refereeing the game for years. He spent some years in Germany and if you want to become his friend, strike up a conversation about Bayern Munich, Saeed’s favorite team.

You can always call the Sweetwater and ask if they will be showing a game. If Saeed gets the channel on satellite he will make sure it’s tuned in for you when you get there.

Because he went out of his way to accommodate our soccer needs, we started using the Sweetwater for US National Team watch parties. It took a while to get all the bugs worked out but now the Sweetwater is part of the Official US Soccer Bar Program and all our watch parties are at the Sweetwater.

On June 24th of this year (2009), a record 120 people filled up the Sweetwater to watch a very exciting but in the end disappointing US loss to Brazil in the Confederations Cup. On August 12th and even with a mid-afternoon weekday game against Mexico, over 100 people filled the Sweetwater.

Recently, when Saeed heard that no other bar in town was going to pony up the money for the closed circuit pay-per-view game between the US and Honduras, a World Cup qualifier that could seal the deal for the US, he took the risk and paid the money with the assurances of just a few of us regulars who said we thought we could make it work for him.

On Saturday evening, over 300 people attended the Sweetwater to watch one hell of a game for the US that assured them their 6th consecutive appearance in the World Cup. Not everyone could fit into the main bar so a conference room equipped with a TV was opened up.

A big hats off to Saeed for his work in making Saturday evening’s game a huge success and making the Sweetwater a great US Soccer bar. Hopefully many more soccer fanatics in the Twin Cities now know about the Sweetwater and know where they can have a great soccer bar experience without costing them an arm and a leg.

–Wednesday evening, October 14, 2009, the U.S. Men’s National Team will take on Costa Rica at 7 p.m. CT.

–What’s at stake for the US? First place in the CONCACAF Standings and a better seed going into the World Cup draw.

– What else is at stake? Costa Rica sits in 3rd place, they have now overtaken Honduras and hope to beat the US at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. If they do, they too will go to the 2010 World Cup, but if they lose and Honduras(4th place) can beat their opponent El Salvador (5th place), then Honduras will be making an appearance in South Africa next summer.

Of course, the watch party will be held at none other than the Sweetwater Bar and Grille.

17 Responses
  1. nathan3e permalink
    October 12, 2009

    Nice story. Well done to all involved.

  2. October 12, 2009

    Very cool article indeed. I have never been to the Sweetwater but I am hoping when I am back in town one of these days I can make it there for a game. Saeed sounds like a great guy. By the way, is Saeed the same guy I remember from my youth who used to own (or perhaps still does) the soccer store, Planet Soccer, in St. Paul?

  3. October 12, 2009

    Fortunately not. He is a relative of the Sweetwater Saeed and the Soccer USA Saeed is the one who I referred to as owning the Thunder.

  4. October 12, 2009

    Looks like you guys had a great time.

    Also, the US isn’t going to get a seed. No matter what happens.

  5. Ken permalink
    October 12, 2009

    Saeed is a great guy and I personally thanked him Sat night for showing the game. Unfortunately he was so busy running around the place taking care of everything that I don’t think he quite heard me, not to mention he certainly didn’t get to watch the game. He runs a great place with good food and VERY helpful staff. Great work Saeed.

    FYI – Zach, I think you are probably referring to Siavosh Rahimi or “Sia”. I believe both Saeed and Sia are from the same country however I didn’t know they are related.

  6. October 12, 2009

    I believe Mexico did last time didn’t they? And we had actually performed about as well as they had. Can’t remember the exact details. Someone will.

    Actually Zac is referring to Saeed Kadkhodaian former owner of the Thunder and owner of the Soccer USA.

  7. October 12, 2009

    what a spectacular night at the sweetwater!!

    the place was packed and the roller coaster of a game made it almost mind-meltingly intense

    at half time i was a nervous wreck – my legs were literally wobbly

    the win was a huge joyous moment, and getting to share it with so many people is what i have always dreamed about as a soccer fan

    my friends and i were leaping up and down at the glorious goals

    the fact that of over 300 people in the place i hardly knew any of them just made it that much more exciting!

    where did you all come from? and please come back again!

  8. leper permalink
    October 12, 2009

    Great times indeed. I showed up about 10 minutes before kickoff expecting to see a good crowd, but nothing like what was there. Very impressive.

    Regarding the seed – only the top 8 teams are seeded. South Africa gets one as host, so only 7 seeds are available. FIFA never really publicizes the method, but for the last few World Cups it has been based on a combination of performance in previous World Cups and FIFA rankings. They have tweaked the formula slightly as to the relative weight of the components and how far back they go, but it’s the same general concept. The US obviously did well in 2002, but that is worth less in the formula now, and our poor showing in 2006 is more heavily weighted.

    Long and short of it though, is cy is right – the US isn’t going to get a seed. And even if we were close and in the running for one, the difference between finishing 1st and 2nd in the hex is not much difference in the formula anywa.

  9. October 12, 2009

    Thanks for the clarification Leper. I thought I head heard the US was hoping for a seed after the good finish at the Confederations Cup and a top finish in CONCACAF, even though I am much aware of how weak CONCACAF is compared to many confederations.

    I’m hearing of people turned away at a lot of bars across the US as they had well extended their max capacity. Thankfully Saeed had planned ahead and had access to the conference/banquet rooms at the Kelly Inn. However, if something like this comes up again I would have liked to see a larger TV or a projection TV perhaps in that room. I think they had something like a 32 inch in there and it was not really very adequate for the number of people in that room.

    Also on my wish list is a larger TV for the main TV at the round table. He should have a giant one over there. Hopefully that will be something we can request in the coming year or so.

  10. October 12, 2009

    By the way, Keeper Ken is right in that Siavosh Rahimi or “Sia” is the proprietor of Planet Soccer but that is located in Minneapolis on Lyndale. Another fine soccer store in the the Twin Cities. I took my C-license with Sia far too many years ago to speak of. 🙂

  11. Ross permalink
    October 12, 2009

    That was, by far, the most fun I’ve ever had watching a sports event on TV.
    To SAEED! 🙂

  12. October 12, 2009

    Yes I was referring to “Sia” actually. Thanks for the clarification. Sia is a good guy who runs a great shop. Heck he even used to let me set up Subbuteo demos in his store from time to time, haha.

    Anyways, great to read all the good stories from the Sweetwater and here’s to hoping that there are many more of those large turnouts in the future.

    P.S. Doesn’t matter if the US gets a seed or not, we will advance out of the group stage. Positive thinking never hurt anyone, right? 😉

  13. hater permalink
    October 12, 2009

    Although he runs an excellent store he is a poor referee!!!!!

  14. smatthew permalink
    October 13, 2009

    Big ups to Saeed as well as the DC/MN1st crew who have been working to help improve the environment for US soccer fans in the Twin Cities. I remember it was just in the last qualifying cycle dealing with being turned down from one soccer bar and scrambling to see if the other would televise it only to get second fiddle to England.

    I didn’t make the game but its great to read about the numbers and I tip my hat to all the hard work everyone has put in to improve the experience for US soccer fans here.

  15. October 13, 2009

    The Kartik report on the World Cup seeding- how will it work?:

  16. Terence permalink
    October 13, 2009

    What are the chances the Uruguay/Argentina game will be played there?

  17. October 13, 2009

    Talked to Saeed about that today and there’s a good chance he will show it although it will cost him. You may want to call down there and confirm he will show it. Game starts at 6 CT.

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