LYON, France (Reuters) - Americans on scooters, Americans in cafes, Americans in bars, Americans draped in flags and George Washington wigs, Americans in starred bandanas and cowboy hats, all red, white and blue, filled Lyon on Sunday ready to celebrate a fourth World Cup.
First, the 11 American women on the pitch need to beat the Netherlands in the final instalment of a quest some fans are calling the Tour de Four.
The Stars and Stripes fans oozed confidence as the final approached, kicking off at 5 p.m. local time (1500 GMT) on Sunday.
Outside a bar called Le Diskret, where the American Outlaws, a semi-official fan club, had set up camp, three fans laughed when asked what would happen in the final.
“Win,” Elizabeth Jones, 28, said without hesitating.
“Oh, USA,” her friend, Chelsey Burrows said, “definitely.
“With all due respect,” she added, smiling.
The 30-year-old Burrows said it would not be a walk in the park for the Americans to collect a record-extending fourth title.
“All it takes is the U.S. to have a bad game and the Netherlands to have a really good game, and they come away with it. You got to prove it when it comes time to play.”
It is an admission few Americans are willing to make. Nearby, two fans debated whether they would prefer a rout like the 13-0 group win over Thailand or a cool 2-0 victory against the Dutch squad.
“I kinda want a blow out — I want them all to get a goal, I want (defender) Becky Sauerbrunn to score,” said Melinda Qiao, a fan from Cleveland, Ohio.
“I think the Americans are clearly better,” Trevor Frazier, 21, said. “Our players individually are so much better.
“It’s just a question of is the Netherlands’ play style going to throw us off our game.”
The Dutch fans, bedecked as always in orange, packed into Place Bellecour, basking in the bright sunshine before packing into trams and joining long queues for shuttle buses to the out-of-town, 59,000-capacity Groupama Stadium.
The last World Cup, four years ago in Canada, drew unprecedented crowds and television ratings but this time TV viewership figures have exceeded all expectations, smashing records in multiple countries.
If the crowds of fans who have made their way to Lyon are any indication, the showdown on Sunday will break records, too, regardless of who takes home the trophy.
Reporting by Rachel Joyner; editing by Clare Fallon