Friday, July 06, 2007

Match Report: USA vs. Colombia - it was boring.

We woke up on match day with three things on our agenda: 1) pick up our tix; 2) chill poolside; and 3) get to the match. We stayed at the Hilton during our time in Barquisimeto and the US team and a few other US fans were also staying there. It's always a little odd when you're a fan staying at the same hotel as the team. You never want to seem like a freak groupie and at the same time you want them to know you're there so they know they have the support. The results on the pitch naturally dictate the mood and the staff was definitely very uppity over the way the team performed after the first two games. My elevator ride with assistant coach Piotr Nowak was a little tense to say the least. Also, there were a number of autograph seeking kids in the hotel and a few approached me. I informed them that los fanaticos son gordos y los jugadores son flacos. I think that set them straight for the rest of the day.

The ticket office in Barquisimeto employed a logical distribution system - ranges of order numbers were assigned to different windows. The only problem was that the lines were at least 4 hours long and required us to roast in the blazing hot sun. Not sweet. Luis suggested that we just play dumb and cut the line. In the process of doing do, we encountered a future chavista cop: a 17 year old who demanded $20 for letting us cut in front of him. Again, we refused to pay and offered him beer instead. We got to talking and he and his friends were very knowledgeable about MLS. They asked everyone's favorite question: "Where is Donovan?"

After returning to the Hotel with tickets in hand, we met up with Fabio and some other US fans at the hotel bar. The bar interfered with our ability to chill poolside as it turns out you cannot just pick it up and move it to the pool. We met a 12 year old at the bar who was drinking cappucino which we all found pretty impressiv e. He informed us that the coffee was nothing special and that at 12, kids drink cucuy, a. mixture of tequilla, whiskey and gasoline. While we were sitting there, the Gang of Four from NY showed up with their bags in tow as their other reservations had been canceled. I think we jung out with those guys for nearly 3 days and the only times we did not have beer in and were on the raft. James from Ireland also met up with us and set out for the match with us. One of the great things about these trips is the people you meet along the way. Fairly certain this will not be the last we see of James.

After many beers and recollections of the rafting trip and our chance encounter with Ramon Mifflin, we arrived at the stadium to find it unfinished. Once completed, it will be as magnificent a soccer stadium as I've ever seen. The game pretty much sucked. I've never been to a lame duck game and hope that I never have to again. The US team was so impotent in attack that it seemed the Colombians were cheering for us at the end of the game. I got so bored that I spent the better part of the second half staring at chicks. Apparently, there is a big Mexican population in Barquisimeto as the crowd would whistle and catcall whenever a ultrahotchick would walk by. The crowd, as has been custom, took the opportunity to engage in massive anti-chavez rants. After my world cup trips, the chants of the home country have always ended up being stuck in my head. What is weird here is that the Venezuelan chant that will stick in my head is "Lo va cayer! Lo va cayer! . . . El govierno va cayer!" Which means "it will fall! It will fall! . . . The government will fall!". What made the chants on this day more interesting was that it was the Venezuelan independence day. I have some videos that I will post to youtube which you should definitely check out. People literally cannot contain themselves when these chants get going.

Post match, we encountered a massive traffic jam of people. Turns out no one planned for how to get people out of the stadium and back to the center of the city, which is a good 25 miles away. We walked 5 miles or so because nobody paid heed to my attempts to hitchhike. After finally catching a cab back to the city, we met up with our new york pals again and dropped a few more cervezas and cucuys in the tank. We watched Bobby Boswell try to hit on a chick with the aid of a translator. In the end, he gave her his shoes. As punishment for their shoddy performance, the team had to leave in the wee hours of the morning. So long US boys, see you in spain.
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