Lead-in: I’d like to apologize to Preston Petri. The Webster University student and TSG reader inquired on what he could do for his first USMNT game and yours truly suggested writing a column…and then foolishly gave him a 250-word limit. Sorry Preston.
The report below is excellent though; I owe you more words next time Preston!
This is a guest post by first-time contributor Preston Petri
I have been to many professional soccer games in my life, but there are a few that stand out vividly in my mind.
Seeing Bayern Munich play VfB Stuttgart at the Allianz arena with 65,000 crazy fans was one that I will never forget. I also will never forget watching 70,000 fans screaming for David Beckham in an exhibition between LA Galaxy and Chivas de Guadalajara when Becks didn’t even get off the bench. Although these experiences were very exciting, I’ve never experienced a soccer game like my first USMNT game against Poland at Soldier Field.
Rolling up to the tailgate, the first thing I noticed was the incredible number of Polish fans. I had a tough time picking out any USA fans, and I almost felt like I was in the wrong country. Chicago is a major hub for Polish immigrants and it’s easy to see why this friendly match was scheduled to be there. The Polish fans were superior in numbers, and I knew this would make for a great environment inside the stadium.
After walking inside and finding our seats, the passion from every single fan could be felt immediately. I’ve never felt as if I had so much stake in a game as a fan. Being an American gave me every right to be just as passionate as the rest of the stadium. The game itself was a fantastic match, and with constant banter between American and Polish fans, the atmosphere remained epic for the rest of the game.
Despite a fair but somewhat disappointing result with the 2-2 draw, the game was an incredible experience. The pride that you feel due to national association is something you could never experience at any club game. I didn’t think I could be a bigger fan of the USMNT before the match, but after attending, I realize I was proven wrong.