Wednesday, May 26, 2010

5-26-10: The USA - Czech Republic Game

Last night, myself, the lady, and a few friends attended the USA vs. Czech Republic game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. We live about an hour south of the stadium, so it was quite convenient, and I didn’t want to pass up the chance to see the team before they left for South Africa.

It was my first USA game; first game featuring professionals for that matter. The highest level of soccer I’d ever watched in person was a Division 1 college game at Yale. It was amazing to see the differences. You get a feeling for the speed difference on television, but all the nuances are revealed only in person. The players are certainly gifted athletes.

Overall, it was quite fun. The ride in had its expected traffic problems, but we didn’t have much trouble finding parking (we parked at Cabella’s across the street). Getting out was even easier. I was surprised to see the sold-out stadium. I had figured the game would be well attended, but not a sell-out like it was. It was a great atmosphere for a game. The weather was perfect, too.

The team performed well overall despite the final score: 4-2 for the Czechs. Coach Bob Bradley is paring down his preliminary 30 man World Cup squad today, so he wanted to get a feeling for who would be in his final 23. More than half of the starting XI didn’t play, including Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard (though they did have Guzan in), and Jozy Altidore. They did have Jonathan Bornstein, Maurice Edu, a returning Oguchi Onyewu, and DeMarcus Beasley in, though. They played OK. Some of the younger players looked really good, like Herculez Gomez who scored the second U.S. goal. Overall it was disappointing to lose 4-2, but you could tell it wasn’t about the victory as much as it was allowing guys to get in and play.

The referee had obviously been told: don’t let anything crazy happen. The players were well behaved, but there were still a lot of whistles. About half-way through the second half, it got to be a little much. My friend turned to me and said “This game turned to mud fast.” It made it a bit boring, but it picked back up towards the end.

In the end, it was a lot of fun. I can only imagine what it's like to watch a World Cup match. Maybe one day, if I'm lucky, I'll get that chance.

No comments: