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For soccer fans, this place has no match.

Byline: Lewis Taylor The Register-Guard

WORLD CUP

Anyone in Eugene who is at all interested in professional soccer has probably heard about Ken Pendleton's house.

For years, the living room in his university neighborhood home has been soccer central for die-hard supporters, casual fans, foreign university students and anyone else looking for a place to watch televised matches with like-minded enthusiasts.

"It's sort of the melting pot of soccer for Eugene," said John Galas, an assistant soccer coach with the Portland Timbers who's been going to Pendleton's house for years. "There's nothing in Portland that I've found that has this sort of football culture ... a place that has knowledge and good friends. You can go to a pub but it's a little bit different when you know everyone personally."

Ken's house, aka "the Lounge," was the place to be on Monday morning as the United States faced the Czech Republic in its first World Cup match.

Inside Pendleton's tiny living room, 13 guys sat elbow to armpit before a 51-inch TV screen, sipping beers and Bloody Marys and offering their own color commentary on a game that had few bright spots for the United States.

"Rubbish," said Alan Cox, 22, an Englishman who coaches soccer at Churchill High School and Oregon United Soccer Academy. "Zero creativity. They were horrible."

Pendleton agreed that the United States bore a good deal of responsibility for its 3-0 loss. He said the team would have to make some changes if it expected to win its next match against Italy on Saturday.

"I can't see us beating Italy," agreed Dave Galas, John's brother and another regular at Pendleton's house.

"Italy would have to have a heroically bad performance."

Such soccer banter has flowed like pub lager at Pendleton's house for at least a decade and will only grow louder over the next few weeks as World Cup play comes to a head.

He plans to screen most of the 64 scheduled matches in the monthlong tournament. To avoid the play-by-play commentary offered by American TV networks - one fan at Pendleton's house referred to the ESPN/ABC soccer announcers as "Muppets" - Pendleton uses a Canadian satellite system to pick up a European feed.

He also subscribes to digital cable so he can watch games in high definition and record matches on the Univision Spanish language network. He says his monthly TV bill is $209.

`Ken gets the European feed instead of the (American), so we get the commentary on the games instead of the soap opera,' said Kevin Trexel, a fan who's been coming for six years.

Pendleton says he doesn't really mind playing designated host for a month. His only complaints are that his guests often leave a mess and that there aren't more female visitors.

`After (everybody) leaves there are beer caps and bottles everywhere, but I think the positives outweigh the negatives,' says Pendleton, who pays for hismonthly cable/satellite bill by working as a philosophy professor at Oregon State University and part-time columnist for an online soccer magazine. His drop-in visitors can also help defray expenses by leaving a donation in a soccer ball.

"I've met so many different people from so many different cultures, so many interesting people," he says.

Pendleton estimates he's played host to fans from 60 different countries and he's crammed as many as 30 people into his living room. Several years ago the crush of international students from the University of Oregon got so great that Pendleton's housemate moved out.

"He found it a little overwhelming," Pendleton says.

"At one point there were three different Yugoslavians in here, none of whom knew each other, and he couldn't even find a place to sit down and have a cup of coffee."

Jason Blair, a newcomer to the soccer parties, was happy to find an audience of people who knew a lot about soccer.

"The funny thing about this place," he said, "is that every time I come here it's completely new faces."

The rotating cast of characters will continue to drop by Pendleton's house even after World Cup play comes to an end July 9. During the off-season, he'll host a weekly event he calls Cocktails and Classics that pairs epic soccer matches from the past with mixed drinks (the most recent installment featured the 1974 World Cup match between Holland and West Germany and a "Margarita-type lime thing with vodka").

In the regular season he'll screen European league matches on cable/satellite and pay-per-view.

Although soccer, alcohol and rival fans have sometimes led to violence at soccer stadiums, Pendleton says there have been very few problems at his house.

He's never had to ask anyone to leave and the biggest issue he's faced is fans who talk too much.

Soccer, he says, "is like this universal language that we all share."

CORRECTION (ran 6/15/2006): Eugene soccer fan Ken Pendleton is a philosophy instructor at Oregon State University. A story that appeared Tuesday on Page E1 misstated his title.

CAPTION(S):

Ken Pendleton indulges his passion for soccer with a $209 monthly television bill and a 51-inch television.
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Title Annotation:Sports; Ken Pendleton's house has long been a magnet for the sport's enthusiasts
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 13, 2006
Words:852
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