Longtime fans of soccer and those new to the game skipped work or took long lunches to pack into bars and restaurants around Portland on Thursday to watch the United States play Germany in the World Cup.

At Ri Ra Irish Pub on Commercial Street in Portland, more than 100 people chanted “I believe we will win,” blew horns and pounded on drums as red, white and blue confetti was thrown in the air. The crowd was a mix of avid fans, families and office workers.

The big turnout was a sign of the growing enthusiasm for soccer in Portland, where many workers took long lunch breaks or played hooky to watch the game, which the U.S. lost, 1-0. Even Jurgen Klinsmann, head coach of the U.S. men’s team, acknowledged that a noon game on a weekday might compel some fans to skip work altogether. He sent out a tongue-in-cheek note for soccer fans to give to their bosses, excusing them from work for the day.

Some said that kind of enthusiasm isn’t always a bad thing.

“This type of event tends to bring the office together,” said Jonathan Shapiro, a regional managing partner for the Portland law firm Fisher & Phillips, which specializes in employment law. “Overall there aren’t that many (sporting events) during the year that air during office hours.”

However, there can be a downside to that kind of once-in-four-years enthusiasm: When employees stream the games on their work computers, Shapiro said it can slow down the network and cause a loss of productivity for everyone else.

“When people watch the games online, it sucks up all the bandwidth and you can see the network slow down,” Shapiro said, adding that the benefits of temporary camaraderie still outweigh the loss of productivity.

As soccer gets more popular, though, Shapiro said it could have a greater impact on the workplace.

“The sport’s finally more accessible here,” said Aaron Ewing, vice president of the Portland chapter of The American Outlaws, a group of supporters of the United States men’s national soccer team. Ri Ra’s is the group’s official home base for the World Cup tournament.

“Americans love competition and being successful. Now that we’re starting to be more competitive, that’s a big draw for people,” the 22-year-old Portland resident said. “As people watch the sport they get more into it. … It’s growing at an incredible pace.”

American Outlaws member Matt Gawel, 32, of Standish was one of the few who took an entire day off to watch the World Cup.

“I took work off about four months ago for this,” said Gawel as he watched the game at Ri Ra’s. “I sent out a memo saying that I would not be in contact for at least today, maybe the rest of the weekend, depending on how the game goes.”

But not every company was as lenient.

“We didn’t let anyone off today,” said Kelly Sears, an in-house recruiting and event coordinator at Via, an ad agency in downtown Portland.

“We had the game playing in the common room on a big screen and some people gathered to watch it during lunch,” Sears said. “But others just watched it in their offices.”

At Rivalries Sports Pub and Grill in Portland, many of the spectators were sporting business casual attire, a stark difference from the red, white and blue garb that dominated Ri Ra’s.

“I’m a consultant, so I make my own time, but these guys are taking their lunch break,” said Chris Wiener, 32, pointing to his friends, who asked for anonymity lest their bosses find out about their long lunches. “Looks like a lot of people are on their lunch breaks,” Wiener observed.

After the game, supporters filed out of Ri Ra’s disappointed about the U.S. loss but excited that the team gets to play again.

“This is the most important game that the U.S. has played, not just because we’re moving on to the next round, but because it’s putting soccer at the forefront of this country,” Ewing said.

The U.S. team now advances to the Round of 16, and will play Belgium at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.