As the American flag draped in the south end of the Texans' locker room showed, U.S. Soccer fever was running high at Reliant Stadium on Wednesday.
The United States national team secured a spot in the Round of 16 of the 2010 World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Algeria in South Africa. Texans players, at Reliant Stadium for morning workouts, broke out in a raucous celebration as U.S. midfielder Landon Donovan scored the decisive goal in the waning minutes of the match.
"One thing I know about the USA, if it's against another country, we ride or die," wide receiver Jacoby Jones said. "I was getting out of the shower and I was walking to my locker and I looked, I saw they were on the fast break and then I saw them get the rebound and score, and you'd have thought we won the game this whole locker room was acting. We were running around here cheering, jumping for joy, slapping hands. It was pretty good to see the USA succeed."
Players described a similar scene in the team's adjacent training room.
"We started throwing a mini-riot in the training room, knocking stuff over, so that was pretty fun," running back Steve Slaton said.
"Everyone jumped up and was screaming and hollering," added wide receiver Kevin Walter, who caught the last 10 minutes of the game after finishing his workout. "It was awesome. It was fun to watch. These guys deserve it; (they've been) playing good. We'll see what happens next."
Up next for the USA is a win-or-go-home game on Saturday against Ghana, the last remaining African team in this first World Cup played on African soil.
Texans defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, who lived in Nigeria until the age of 12 and grew up playing and watching soccer, is one of many Texans players who will be following the U.S. closely as the World Cup continues.
"USA all the way," Okoye said. "Especially after that goal, you can't do nothing but support them. That shows a lot of heart."