Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The "tie" heard round the World

Sorry for the delay on the posts it has been a couple days since we were allowed internet access due to our busy schedule.

June 12th was an adventure. We had one of our longest rides ever on this trip. The drive to Rustenburg for the USA game was over 2 hours long. Although long, it was a very eventful experience. In order to get to Rustenburg we had to travel along a one lane road most of the way. This road eventually wrapped around a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. On the mountainside were beautiful homes that I myself would not mind living in. But the best/most entertaining part was the salesman that lined this road. We were in stop and go traffic so men and women alike, immediately recognizing that we were tourists stuck their head in our van and offered us mixed nuts, figurines, jewlery, coasters, even a bow and arrow! At first no one acknowledged the salespeople but jokingly one person asked how much for something and we weren't left alone again. These people would never take no for an answer. So Kevin Shaker bought 2 figurines for 120 rand when 1 figurine was first offered for 200 rand! So he lucked out. Then came the coasters. Professor Hamakawa bought the coasters for 100 rand. Then Sean Healey bought them for 60 rand. Then Dave Fitz bought them for 40 rand. It was incredbile the farther down you went the less everything cost. It was hilarious. So in reality we all lucked out here. 745 rand is equal to 100 dollars. So 100 rand is around 14 dollars. And for Dave Fitz he was the delegate of the day buying the coasters for less than 6 dollars.

Our journey continued on as we stopped on a bridge to take pictures. On the bridge we were either accosted by English fans or given high fives by USA fans. Eventually we got to within walking distance of the stadium and the streets were chaos. I had never seen that many English Flags in my life. I would repeat this statement later. Clearly just from outside the stadium England fans outnumbered USA fans. Walking into the stadium was crazy. There were so many people everywhere. The aura was set from waiting in line. English fans taunting the USA fans. The USA fans chaning "USA" over and over to drown them out. It had all the appeal of a great rivalry. Once we got into the stadium and through all the English men in line buying 6-8 beers at a time we found our seats, front row of the second level in the corner. You couldn't ask for better seats. Immediately we were in an arguement with and English fan when Dave Fitz tried to hang our USA flag over an English flag despite the fact we had rights to that area. Eventually we compromised but tensions were building.

It was unreal once the players came onto the field. My favorite players and soccer idols from Enland and the USA were right before my eyes. The best players in the world like Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, Terry, Donovan, Dempsey were set to take the field. I was going crazy I have never taken more pictures in my life. During the national anthem our group from Wnec sang passionately, loud, and probably really off pitch but the patriotism was there. England struck first scoring relatively easy in the game and there fans went wild. All of the 300 or more England flags were raised in the air. I was scared we might bet embarrased if England already scored that easily. But. the 'Yanks' never gave up. Clint Dempsey was our man. He shot the ball at the English goalie who made a routine save until he dropped the ball into the back of the net. Our group all yelled and celebrated together. The USA team mobbed each other on the field, pure jubilation. A great moment for USA soccer. The rest of the game was a battle. Both sides going back and forth with great chances but the game ended in a 1-1 draw which in the words of any USA fan "We'll take it." We'll take it is true. The goal we got was a gift but it still counts for 1 on the scoreboard.

It was a great day for us as fans but even better for USA soccer. The new cheer we learned at the game to taunt England was, "Joburg, Capetown, Rustenburg, Durban, if it weren't for USA you'd be speaking German." A great historical reference but funny as well.

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