My First USMNT Match Goes Like This…

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!

Dempsey: Live, in color...and apparently in flight

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.

8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Soccernst on 2010/10/11 at 11:40 PM

    Nicely done Preston. I’m now thoroughly jealous, which means you’ve done your job! Look forward to your next piece.


  2. Posted by Prestonpetri on 2010/10/12 at 12:11 AM

    Thanks soccernst! If you ever get a chance to catch a game (if you haven’t already)I highly recommend…it’s a great time for a USA soccer or any soccer fan.


  3. Posted by James on 2010/10/12 at 3:40 AM

    I had the very same thoughts after I attended my very first USMNT match during World Cup the qualifying stages last year. I thought I was a huge fan, only to realize that the actual experience of being there in person (and rooting against 40,000 Honduran fans) transforms a person to a whole new level. Great post, and hopefully we will hear more from you in the future.


  4. Excellent job, welcome to the club. My first live USMNT game was September/October 2005 against Mexico in World Cup Qualifying, and since then I’ve been hooked.

    I’d be interested to get your opinion on what you saw outside the stadium? I was at the game, and expected the 85-15 split in fandom (the 85 being the Polish contingent), and I thought that during the game it was all good fun and good banter. However, outside the stadium there were some incidents of Polish fans getting along with US fans and being civil (and vice versa), and there were some unsavory moments from both sides.


  5. Posted by MeganPetri on 2010/10/12 at 7:27 AM

    EXCELLENT JOB PRESTON! Can’t wait to read more of your stuff . You have a way of writing that reallys makes the reader feel like they are experiencing what you experienced.


  6. Posted by brian on 2010/10/12 at 8:08 AM

    now go attend a game that counts (non friendly) I have been to 3 world cups, believe me you can become an even bigger fan by attending one of those intense matches


  7. Posted by Prestonpetri on 2010/10/12 at 8:30 AM


    You are exactly right about the 85-15 split outside the stadium. Next to us at the tailgate were three Polish fans grilling with three USA fans and being quite civil (I actually think they were friends) We also had kids playing around us also, so I only saw civil behavior outside the stadium, however inside the stadium some people got thrown out in the section next to us for getting physical and throwing beer at eachother. It added to the atmosphere, but once it got physical it needed to be stopped and it was.


    I hope I can attend some sort of qualifier someday. That seems like it would be what I already experienced times 10.


  8. Posted by guti on 2010/10/12 at 8:50 AM

    Nice post Preston, were you sitting with the US supporters? Actually I guess you’d be standing.


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