Dozens of soccer fans missed the dramatic overtime finish Thursday night of the Women's World Cup quarterfinal game between Brazil and Nigeria after they scrambled to catch what they thought were the last shuttle buses departing from Jack Kent Cooke Stadium.
What they didn't know was that transit officials would extend shuttle service to the Landover Metro station and that there was no reason for them to have missed some of the most exciting moments in the game.
Fans had been told that the last shuttle would leave the stadium at 11:30 p.m., depositing them at the Landover station in time for the last scheduled train. The decision to continue running the trains, made by a transit supervisor on the scene, came after some fans had left the stadium, according to Metro spokeswoman Cheryl Johnson. She said Metro had not asked that the extension be announced inside the stadium.
Daniel Licata said that with Brazil leading 3-2 in the second half, he and his wife walked away from a pair of fabulous seats on the midfield line, valued at $75 each. As they walked toward the shuttle bus stop, with about five minutes remaining in the half, a huge roar rose from inside the stadium. Only when they reached their home in Manassas did they discover that Nigeria had tied the match. The contest was ultimately won by Brazil 4-3 in sudden-death overtime.
"To walk away from those seats and to have it go into overtime, I was very, very angry," Licata said.
Many fans ignored Metro's advertised warnings that the last shuttle bus would leave at 11:30 p.m. and remained glued to their seats until the match ended 14 minutes into overtime. When a supervisor saw crowds flowing from the stadium after the scheduled close, he pressed the buses back into service and requested that trains continue operating, Johnson said. About 350 rode the shuttles and trains between 11:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., she said.
"Once we made a commitment to get the people to the stadium, we made a commitment to get them back," Johnson said.
The transit system had been prepared for a crush of riders at the end of the match, the second contest of an evening double-header that began with the quarterfinal game between the United States and Germany. The U.S. team won its game 3-2.