SAN FRANCISCO — For the vast majority of Sunday's tense World Cup game between Mexico and the Netherlands, Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens was nowhere to be found. But right before Klaas Jan Huntelaar stepped up for a penalty kick in injury time, a beaming Meulens showed up in the clubhouse.

When Huntelaar rocketed the game-winner into the back of the net, Meulens, who is from Curacao, a constituent country of the Netherlands, raised his hands in the air amid catcalls and boos from the players.

"If you ain't Dutch," he yelled, "You ain't much!"

Meulens is far from the only Giant with World Cup fever. Over the weekend, Pablo Sandoval (regularly wears a Lionel Messi jersey but is rooting for Brazil) kicked a soccer ball with Hector Sanchez (rooting for the U.S., his selection in the clubhouse pool). After Tim Lincecum threw a no-hitter last week, he donned a personalized red, white and blue jersey. Lincecum and Hunter Pence got the gifts a day before Team USA moved on to the Round of 16.

"We're inspired just watching them," Pence said. "We'll be rooting for them. We believe in them. They've shown a lot of courage and they've been inspiring."

When the U.S. advanced despite a loss to Germany, Lincecum again wore his jersey, joking that he wasn't going to wash it during this run.

"I'm glad they made it through," he said. "Obviously they were in the Group of Death, so to make it out was a feat on its own."

This isn't the first time Lincecum has gone out of his way to show support for the American soccer team. He didn't really like soccer growing up, but started playing FIFA video games in 2006 (he prefers to play as Atletico Madrid) and hasn't stopped since. Lincecum started stocking up on jerseys, from Messi to Wayne Rooney to the famous black-and-white pinstriped kit of the Italian club Juventus.

When Clint Dempsey (from Brandon Belt's hometown of Nacogdoches, Texas) scored the lone goal in a thrilling international friendly against Italy in February of 2012, Lincecum was itching for some way to show his appreciation.

"I got excited and felt what's the quickest way to throw a 'good job' out,' so I called my agency," he said that spring.

And that's how Lincecum ended up having a Twitter account. He has 119,000 followers despite tweeting just eight times, the first of which was directed at accounts for Dempsey and U.S. Soccer and read: "just want to say congrats to you and the team on a great job and making the US proud, so pumped for you guys."

While Lincecum's connection to the beautiful game comes through digital means, others in the clubhouse have spent years on the pitch. Pence played until he was around 11 and naturally was known for running around as fast as he could. Brandon Crawford was a goalie tasked with keeping soccer balls out of the back of the net long before he kept grounders out of big league outfields. Like many of the team's South American players, Sandoval grew up around the game. He was a forward for four years, and he has fond memories.

"I was good!" he said, laughing.

The best soccer players in the clubhouse aren't players, though. Meulens' father was the captain of the Curacao national team and Hensley played until he was 16. At that point, his soccer and baseball schedules started overlapping, and with seven MLB teams already scouting him, he chose baseball. When he joined a New York Yankees minor league team in 1986, his father came with him — until he briefly left to go watch that year's World Cup in Mexico.

Bench coach Ron Wotus also chose baseball over soccer and it wasn't a difficult decision, despite the fact that Wotus scored 89 goals in four years as a forward for Bacon Academy in Connecticut.

"I had calls from colleges, but I didn't pursue it," he said. "I knew I was going to get drafted in baseball, and that was the place to have opportunities."

Wotus was selected in the 16th round in the 1979 MLB Draft. For the first two years of his minor league career, the coach at Connecticut College tried to convince Wotus to play soccer there in the winters, once his baseball season was over. He declined, although years later, perhaps spurred on by a stirring World Cup, he's having second thoughts.

"I'll do it now!" he said.