No Sleep Thru Pioneer: 33 Hours With The USMNT in Rain City

'Merica!

‘Merica!s

This is story all about how my life got turned right upside down… no, never mind, just a brief recap of a lovely midweek trip, or a stream of consciousness, or something. I’ve been awake for 32 of the last 36 hours, for freedom and liberty. BiggySF on twitter if you don’t want to shoot me by the end of this. I won’t blame you if you do.

Just a normal Monday in San Francisco, sitting at work waiting desperately for 5pm so I can head for the airport to Seattle. So not a normal Monday at all.

Text from Southwest Airlines ‘Your flight has been delayed.’ Great, that means I’m going to be even later to the AO party, which means I will probably have to DD for my host. Eff you Southwest.

Hour later, another text from SWA ‘Your flight has been partially undelayed.’ Okay, that hasn’t happened before.

Accidentally wore my San Francisco Warriors shirt to Oakland Airport. Feel like it did not go over well.

Oh, the only seat is a middle seat in the back third of the plane surrounded by children? Perfect. That is exactly what I wanted. Can I order a crying baby here as well please, flight attendant?

As we approach Seattle, dad behind me points out the lights and says ‘Look a Mariners game’ to his daughter, pauses and says ‘they are probably losing anyway.’

Off the plane, onto light rail, but not before someone asks me how the light rail ticket thing works. Clearly I look like a public transit expert, not sure how that reflects on me.

....

….

Light rail finally makes it downtown, I grab a cab and head for Golazo HQ where the AO party is, with bold intentions. Intentions to drink rapidly, since it’s past 10 and to not lose any of my belongings. Aim high kids.

My good friend/AO Seattle president meets me at the door with a drink while Alexi Lalas stands outside, chatting with people. One point for the good team.

Find the always gracious and charming Free Beer Movement Dan and harass him about the silly brown scarf he is wearing.

Meet Matt from AO Vegas and Mike from Seattle who I kick with for an extended period of time + take a shot of fireball with before learning Dan is announcing the raffle. There were raffle tickets?! Thanks Southwest, not like I wanted to be a part of that.

Heckle Dan as he calls numbers, no one near us wins anything.

Dan gives up the mic, immediately Matt wins the backpack he wanted (and apparently was counting on since he brought no carry on luggage)

Catch a KickTv shirt at the same time that someone else does, we decide to pick a winner the only fair way outside of a proper duel, so rock paper scissors to the death. Scissors scissors every time bitches. I now have a souvenir. Makes me feel better I didn’t win one of the sweet authentic jerseys. Okay, no it doesn’t.

The rest of my SF crew gets to the party, we take pictures with the large flag.

Cobi Jones is there, I attempt not to embarrass myself like last time I saw someone famous in Seattle. ‘Stu! I follow you on twitter!’ Yes, that really happened, and no, I still can’t live it down. Bullet dodged, didn’t say anything incredibly stupid.

Party winds down, cruise out. Can taste victory tomorrow. Or is that the fireball?

 —

8:30am game day. I am awakened from my air mattress by a voice that keeps telling me it will leave me here. Drag my ass out of bed.

Negotiate to borrow the car to drop my bags off at my airbnb spot. Lose. Get dropped off at AO pregame bar while Shawn goes to make the tifo happen. Too bad it’s 9:15 am and even if I was dumb enough to start drinking, I can’t. They aren’t open.

Paseos and sightseeing with the SF crew tides me over. Except it’s raining now. WTF weather, don’t do me like this man.

We begin the trek toward the stadium. First stop, a bar! Hooray beer.

Beer down, let’s get to Fuel. Suddenly it is warm. And sunny. Cool game mother nature, you are winning for sure.

Outside terrace/parking lot/street party/tons of Americans is hoppin. Have an hour and a half to the march which means drinnnnnkkkkkkkkk.

I highly don’t recommend the mango finlandia shot + no equal ECS beer, also known as the AO special. Shots in a test tube however were the chef’s special I do believe.

Impressed with the numbers at this place. It keeps getting more crowded. Somehow I’m getting sunburnt. Nature 2 Me 0. Meet up with more friends from the Bay Area. Overhear guys behind me say they are from Mississippi. Awesome. See a lone Panama fan enter the beer garden. Lost much?

Hiyo, it’s march time. We miss all the pomp and circumstance and rush out from the bar when we see the masses moving. Jump in and start chanting. Solid mass of people winds all the way to the stadium, where maybe 50 Panama fans are singing. Kinda.

Scarves in June....

Scarves in June….

Go in with immediate concern of acquiring the game scarf. Decide to be a good brother and get another to bring back. Manage to get one from the future, aka US Honduras. In Salt Lake City. Oooooops US Soccer, that box shouldn’t be here.

Acquire ourselves some lovely seats in section 123ish, then more beer. On field DJ from Mad Decent? Wow, we really have upgraded huh?

National anthem = full body chills. LETS DO THIS AMERICUH.

Under the tifo, more chills. We manned Dempsey and Jurgen heads and jumped in with all the glorious chanting. Nice work Kevin and Christine. Made friends with the people next to us, who were from Portland, and they told me about the all you can eat popcorn.

Jozy scores, all hell breaks lose, including a glorious popcorn shower. AO is going crazy. This is the stuff dreams are made of. Or nightmares, if you are Panama. The USA ain’t nothin to f*ck with chant is loud and strong. Capos and entire crowd doing a great job.

JOOOOOOOOO....

JOOOOOOOOO….

.......LAZZZZZZZZZZ.....

…….LAZZZZZZZZZZ…..

....OOOOOOOOOO!

….OOOOOOOOOO!

Halftime. Try and dodge the bathroom crowd by going at the end of the half, fail so miserably. Walk back down the aisle to my seat right toward Eddie Johnson breaking on goal. Oh, 2-0 you say? I like.

In about the 70th go into voice preservation mode. Literally lasted maybe 2 minutes. Who needs to be able to talk anyway? Between ‘We split your country in twooooo’ and ‘He’s big he’s quickkk’ it was impossible to stay quiet. Nice lil Team America action too.

The amount of jealous text messages I am getting is awesome. Come with next time you bums! BEASLEYYYYYYYYY oh, that would have ended us all. Full pandemonium was on the menu if the post hadn’t rudely interjected. Hey, Panama finally got a card for diving? Somehow we have like six cards. Ugh.

It’s over. All three points are coming back home with me to SF, and you can’t do shit about it. Get a Seattle dog before Christine eats us all. Cream cheese, onions and hot sauce? Not bad. It’s no dirty SF dog with health department bacon, but I would do it again. Grabbed beers with S and K. Lovely people. Sat outside, at least half the people that walked by gave the US some love. You could tell everyone was stoked. Finally head home, run into two guys on the street from Huntington Beach that were headed for the titty bar. Now that is how you celebrate America baby.

Americaheads (& fellow FC Black Sox)

Americaheads (& fellow FC Black Sox)

Hello 4:45 am alarm clock. I hate everything. Get to the airport, through security. Oh how nice, they are calling our names on the speaker. Now I get to be that guy running through the airport. Half full flight back to SF, at least 50% of the plane in US gear.

Rock the scarf to work, no one says anything. I figure it’s solid marketing at the worst.

Spend at least 10 minutes thinking about what an American Outlaws – Wu Tang Clan music video for USA ain’t nothin to f*ck with would look like. Pretty much perfect I imagine. Could we crowd fund this?

Conference calls post 90 minutes of yelling? Now that’s what I call scratchy.

By 5:30 fully feeling the lack of sleep. Delirious you say? Maybe.

Head for the bus home, dude walking next to me asks if I was there last night. Talk for a couple minutes, tell him what bar to hit up on Tuesday. Mission accomplished. Well done America. Well done Seattle. Well done everyone who made this one so effing amazing. Let’s do it again soon.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Christine on 2013/06/13 at 2:37 PM

    ALL YOU CAN EAT POPCORNSSSS? maybe i wouldn’t have threatened to eat all of you if i had known about the Portlander’s secret stash!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Mike on 2013/06/13 at 5:17 PM

    Great meeting ya man. And you’re welcome for the fireball shot! That’s how we do it here in Seattle! Hit me up on twitter. @oakharborgrizz

    Reply

  3. Posted by Crow on 2013/06/13 at 6:21 PM

    So many things I loved about this article; these are always my favorite on TSG.

    As we approach Seattle, dad behind me points out the lights and says ‘Look a Mariners game’ to his daughter, pauses and says ‘they are probably losing anyway.’

    That was absolutely hilarious was dying laughing at work. Its small moments like that I think that are the most memorable on trips.

    Here’s my story:

    Found out shortly before I was supposed to leave that I had to go into work (new job and I’ve already taken off for Denver, Mexico City, Salt Lake) so I take care of business in the morning and swallow a $200 change air fee to get up to Seattle just in the nick of time.

    As soon as I get off the plane I’m running around. Is it just me or is Seattle’s airport very confusing??!! There certainly isn’t very clear signage on how to proceed to the light rail from the terminal I was at- I got on that train shuttle just hoping I was going in the right direction. Despite usually being a fantastic and willing navigator I finally cave in and ask someone for directions, they looked at me and said “we have no idea where the hell the light rail is either; we’ve been looking for it for 1/2 hr.” Then the same thing happens again. LOL. Anyway finally find one of those guys driving carts around for the disabled and he gives me fantastic directions. Never saw a sign for the light rail or transportation until I started walking through the parking garage. Get on the train and at the first stop a bunch of people in Sounders and US garb get in. Actually everyone on the train is wearing US or Sounders garb except for this one kid who looks like he wish he grew up in the grunge era. I laughed as he seemed almost like a character from a skit. Admired the view on my way up (first time in Washington or Seattle) and talked soccer the entire way up. Got off one stop too early and walked past Safeco. As I walked by I saw some fans looking over at the throngs walking towards Century almost in a sad envy. “Look at the fun they’re having over there” was the expression on their faces.

    My favorite thing about going to games is I’ll go into the AO section and see a face and remember- oh that’s the guy from 2010 USA/Colombia at PPL Park; or 2009 USA/Mexico Columbus. How have you been the last 4 years? Everyone seems to remember everyone’s faces not names- especially me- its hilarious. Of course there are some that are at EVERY single game. I work my way down to the 3rd row (best I could do) and immediately see some of my San Jose crew that I have just met from the AO chapter from the Belgium and Germany games. Then look over there- friends from the Azteca trip!

    The chants start- there’s a 14 year old girl ahead of me chanting louder than most and that is saying something LOL. The first pogo starts and I know its going to be a good night. The tifos go up and I wonder what they are of. First 20 minutes anxious as Panama is pressing and the US looks uncomfortable- the section stays loud though never going more than 30 seconds without some song or chant. ALTIDORE PENALTY!!! C’mon! (in the voice of Gob) but then just as we are cursing the ref Geoff freaking Cameron makes one of his 5000 tackles turns up field hits Bradley running like a madman to Johnson- as soon as he hits the cross the noise starts and then ROAR as Jozy hits it in. The rest of the half flies by but I’m waiting more.

    Spend the entire half trying to find out about Mexico. Rumors going around of them losing or tying and fans throwing stuff on the field. This sounds pretty good to me. Can’t get a data signal with TMobile in the Clink.

    Soon enough its the 2nd half starts which even surpasses 2009 RFK CD9 possibly for crowd interaction. It starts with the “We’re going to Brazil” which the rest of the main crowd picks up. GEOFF FREAKING CAMERON. Has any American player at any position ever had a game as dominant as this. In this form he could play destroyer for Juventus. Then the clap starts. This is a moment I will remember the rest of my life when US soccer arrived. Maybe non coincidentally it was going on right around when the US was playing their best soccer of my lifetime. I was looking forward to alot of the Seattle/ECS chants as I’ve always been a distant admirer wishing every MLS fanbase could be like theirs- but I forgot about the clap. It started out of nowhere- I must have missed the capo in front of me- but boy it was loud and I almost jumped. I start doing it and immediately thereafter the entire crowd is I scramble to get my phone (view on YouTube USA Panama Boom Boom Clap). The noise is incredible. I can’t imagine what CLink would have sounded like if they would have sold out the whole stadium- hopefully next time. It REALLY gets loud there where the top sections start making noise- because the noise hits the roof and comes straight down. The key to making that place incredibly loud is to fill those top sections. I loved Taylor Twellman’s comment when watching the replay: Is the hair standing up on the back of your neck? That was my exact feeling during.

    About 5 minutes later after the Beasley post I beg for an Estados/Unidos call repeat to the capo. He says the crowd won’t get it. How about United/States. “We’ll try”. It works! And the whole crowd is doing it- sounded good on ESPN. 85th minute- time is running out on the fun “Can we do another pogo?” Yep! That one finally made it on TV. Wish they would have shown it more- I think it looks pretty cool. Final whistle- start going up the steps after Brad Evans throws his (shinguards?) into the crowd. Oh look there is Greg and Lupe from SFO and the Azteca trip. We go find a bar. Everyplace is packed. There is a blonde girl wearing….. paint. Wonder why I feel like I’m going to pass out and finally realize I haven’t eaten or drank anything since breakfast. After a great BBQ brisket sandwich (Firehouse I think) and a few drinks I’m feeling like a king. A guy beside me dumps his 2nd beer but this time on me and my phone instead of the floor. Oh well. Theyll think Im a lush at the airport. Two guys from Minneapolis start talking about how great the game was. “Yeah this is awesome.” We’re going to KC in October its awesome there- oh yeah me too- See you there here’s my number. More friends!

    I say goodbye to Greg and Lupe and try to find the damn Light link rail station. I’m running out of time between a $2 and $40 ride back to the airport. Thank goodness for it though it costs like $100 to rent a car for a day? Get back to the airport 1:30 AM. See another US fan crashed. Search articles and videos about the game until my phone dies at 4:30. Nice the TSA area actually opens early- go through and start to sleep at my gate. Yeah I must have there are suddenly lots of people here. I see an older gentleman looking down at my scarf. I think he wants to sit there. “Were you at the game last night?” “Yeah”. He’s a Sounders season ticket holder. It doesn’t matter if you’re 5, a 13 year old girl or a 70 year old man. Everyone loves soccer. Like Deuce said: Its like a different country.

    Fall asleep instantly on the plane- we haven’t taken off yet? I hear some announcement about someone is sick on the plane and we have to go back to the gate. Fall asleep. Wake up- we’re landing in San Jose. Oh crap its 9 and I have to be at work. Boy does it take awhile to take the San Jose bus back to economy parking. Going to have to go straight to work in my beer soaked jersey and jeans. Thankfully my work is awesome and most are away at a tradeshow. Go home and change at lunch. Come back- hit up shinguardian to see if everyone is enamored with Cameron’s performance as me. They are and I feel happy others are feeling the same way.

    Bascially, this game was the game I had always envisioned the US having in terms of gameplay and support. Its so nice to see how far everything has come in just 5 years of regularly attending games. I can’t wait to see how far it progresses 5 years from now. Seattle did not disappoint. I still want to play Mexico in Columbus because they seem to be terrified of Crew Stadium, but Seattle needs to be #2 on every WCQ cycle. KC #3 and RFK still #4. They have numbers, noise, organization- the tifo, capos, songcards- this is how it should be done everywhere.

    Can’t wait for Salt Lake next week! Hopefully Rio Tinto lives up to its billing. Trying to see if I can pull of AO San Jose Costa Rica trip and then Columbus. I sure am tempted seeing how a San Jose CA-San Jose Costa Rica – Columbus- San Jose CA itinerary is only 100 more than going to Costa Rica and 300 more than just going to Columbus. I desperately want to experience Saprissa and win :) And the resort is all inclusive :) we’ll see

    Reply

    • Posted by Biggy on 2013/06/14 at 12:26 AM

      Hahaha dude you basically just wrote your own post. Awesome. Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

      Reply

      • Posted by Crow on 2013/06/14 at 12:49 AM

        I know sorry lol kind of got away from me. It was just one of the best experiences of my life as a fan.

        If you are a US soccer fan I think the future is very bright after what I saw first hand on Tuesday.

        Reply

  4. Posted by Shawn Wheeler on 2013/06/13 at 11:24 PM

    Yo Biggy, you know what was missing from this trip? Rum and Coke. And people you follow on twitter

    Reply

  5. Posted by Jim on 2013/06/14 at 12:13 PM

    What a difference 10 plus years makes. My first qualifier was in 2001 against Honduras in D.C. my friends and I were vastly outnumbered by blue-clad Hondurans, but we happy few made a ruckus… That same group of friends watched every match through the 2002 WC, hanging out together in the wee hours of the morning while watching those WC matches. I was thrilled that at least my soccer-playing buddies knew and cared about the USMNT. In 2010, it was night and day- even my coworkers, who could have cared less about the game in ’06, went nuts during WC ’10. But there were even qualifiers for the ’10 WC in which the U.S. was equal-to if not outnumbered by Hondurans in Chicago, etc.

    Now, to see that sort of support that We saw in Seattle for a qualifier- it makes me cry to think we could have held the WC here in ’22… One of my fondest memories of watching the US pay was in ’02 and I think it’s because it highlights the higher profile we’re experiencing with the game now: it was during the summer of my senior year in high school and a whole group of my soccer-playing buddies had gone on a trip to rural Kentucky to help rebuild dilapidated housing- we knew that during that week we would have to find a place to watch the round of 16 matches were the U.S. to advance. We found a hotel that would allow us to watch the U.S.-Mexico in their lobby with the condition that we make no noise… I have never in my life seen a group show so much emotion without making a sound. As soon as we stepped into the parking lot it was all hell breaking loose and people stepping out of their rooms to see what was the matter. We got out of there before the cops showed up due to the noise ordinance violation (which included fireworks).

    I hope Rio Tinto and the rest continue the precedent set by Seattle. I’m begging my wife to let me try to get to Columbus for the Mexico match…

    Reply

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