Some Match Day Thoughts

Soccer is a sport of emotions and last night was no exception as we were put through it, but as with all things, the more difficult the task the better the payoff.  Some thoughts:

  • Being at the World Cup is simply awesome.  This is my third and I have made good friends at each.  It is so cool seeing friends whom you’ve only ever seen at Cups.  They live in America, but I’ve only know them abroad.
  • The day began here in Pipa with a nice breakfast of Acai with granola, banana, and honey.

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  • Our fleet of cabs took about two hours to reach the stadium.  No worries, we were aware of that and arrived hours before the match.
  • At Bar Original, a few blocks from the stadium, we ate some Brazilian meats.  And had a few beers.

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  • We arrived to the stadium early, having had Mexicans tell us they encountered long, slow lines.  We were in quickly and just hung out on the large, wide concourse.

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  • As most Americans came in our gate, we were reunited with and met many old friends.

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  • There were huge numbers of American, many in great costumes–many were better but this was my favorite.
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  • In addition to Bud, they also sold Brahma beer.  Yeah, it’s owned by Bud but it least is not Bud.  We all drank that.  Beers and cokes came in plastic souvenir cups that notated USA vs Ghana.  Pretty cool, though I didn’t keep any.
  • My seat was in the end zone, 10 rows up, to the right of  the goal, many of my friends were nearby and others squeezed in.

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  • Not once did anyone check my ticket not did I hear of that happening to anyone else.
  • This is good news as for the other two matches, I’m supposed to be in the upper deck–if this laissez-faire approach to ushering continues, I see me having no problem getting close and low.
  • I was happy to see our line-up unchanged from the Nigeria, sendoff match.
  • I love the few minutes from just before the walkout to the start of the match.  There is a feeling of possibilities, it’s all there in front of us, waiting to happen.
  • Belting out the Star-Spangled Banner with thousands of American’s is a moving experience.  It sounded as good as I’ve ever heard us.
  • Soccer can shock.  34 seconds in and we have a goal.  Bedlam in our sections.  A perfect start, surely a match to enjoy.
  • Or not, we didn’t really press our advantage and they didn’t fall apart.
  • Soccer is a game of pain.  And we all felt it when Jozy pulled up, certainly his cup over.  As he chased the long pass, I looked behind me to the large scoreboard which was showing the TV feed, to see if he had room, as he was running to the goal away from me.  I saw enough to know it was bad.  Our emotions sunk.
  • For as large as our contingent was, we were sadly not in good voice.  Despite the efforts of a good many, and though a few chants caught on and were loud, we were quite for long stretches.
  • Soccer is a game of torture.  And this was that.  Ghana had most of the ball.  The action was in right in front of us, but we survived the half.
  • I was not thrilled that Brooks replaced Besler who had been holding his leg late in the half.  Would have really liked to have had Goodson in there.
  • The torture continued and grew in the second half as they relentlessly attacked the goal away from us.  A goal seemingly certain, but they either seemed to blow it or one of our defenders or Tim Howard was able to stop the shot.  My stomach  ached.  None of it was fun.
  • Of course their goal came.  I feared they would add another.  I thought of How Ecuador had led most of the match only to lose to two late goals.  How devastating.
  • Soccer can amaze. A corner for us.  I checked to see if all our defenders had come up.  They had, though Brooks was well back, perhaps 10 yards outside the 18.  I thought to myself, “If you’re going to come up, then COME UP!”
  • And come up did he!  Unleash Heavan!  As our section went crazy in a mass of noise and color, I turned around.  There behind me were two friends, a married couple.  They were simply holding one another, gazing into eyes with a joy and love that was so pure it was only match by the young Brooks’ celebration.
  • Soccer can warm the heart. The way he celebrated make my eyes water whenever I think of it.  So young, so unexpected–he can’t have even thought he would make the team, much less play, and a central defender scoring a goal?  In the World Cup?  To win the match?  For me, this celebration rivals any the passionate Italians have ever put up–including Spain in 1982.
  • No, we didn’t play well.  Yes Ghana probably deserved better but that’s soccer (and we took our chances).  And though we lost one and possibly two important players, did not play well; all we talked about on our two hour drive back to Pipa was that we had three points.  And points are more valuable than limes in Brazil.
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