Sunday, August 24, 2008

USA-Guatemala - Now not hungover

Ever since I read the post I put up from the car on the way to Lago de Atitlan the other day, I have been having flashbacks of so many details that need to be mentioned.

  • Just before kickoff, I leaned up against the fence to our left that separated the US Section from throngs of some very passionate and somewhat vicious Guatemalan supporters. I was attempting to have my picture taken with a Guatemalan fan with a flag when a couple other Guatemalan fans started pulling my flag through the fence. THAT WAS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. The flag I bring with me to every game has actually been with me to every game I've ever been to (save the US-Haiti game in Miami a few years ago). There was no way some dirtbag was going to take it from me. It turned in to a tug of war and there was no way I was letting it go.
  • During the game, some old dude who worked for the embassy who looked like Colonel Sanders admonished me for not being very "sporting." I laughed at him and advised him to sit down. Seriously, this d-bag is supposed to be part of our diplomatic mission yet he has no understanding of the local culture? Best part about this was that his young daughter got hit in the neck with a flying chicken bone after the match.
  • The guy who got his ass beat by his mates was going back and forth with Kevin all match long. Kevin repeatedly told the dude he was going to make him his wife and blew him several kisses. It was priceless.

Okay, here are the pictures from the match:


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Los Conquistadores del Estadio Mateo Flores!

My oh my, what a wonderful day! After successfully evading miss Fay, Rob, John and I made our way to the hotel to meet up with the crew. Brian, beth, winney and I grabbed some cigars and headed off to the world famous "Taco Inn." Turns out, the word "taco" actually means "gringos eat here" as we ran into several other Americans while scarfing down some tasty alambres and Gallo cervezas.

A crew of about 20 of us met up at the Intercontinental and, on the invaluable advice of my buddy Doug (be safe in Iraq), we arranged for a bus to take us to Cuatro Grados Norte, which featured a street-fair like atmosphere to get match fit.

We bought enough Gallos from Guatemala's version of a Chinese gymnast to feed him and his three kids for a year. Best part was we knew he wasn't ripping us off with "gringo prices" because his t-shirt served double duty as the menu! Beth's "Obama '08" kit got many, many nods and shouts of approval.

After consuming some tortas, a group of us stopped off at La Esquina Cubana for some cuban coffee. The owner of the shop asked me if I liked cigars and then gave me a very nice cigar as a gift.

We had a few more cervezas, chanted back and forth with a few more Guatemalans, and then decided it was time to make our descent on to the notorious Estadio Mateo Flores, named after the brilliant chapine marathon runner. The US section turned out to be about 150 strong (with over half of that coming from the various diplomatic missions stationed here), and we were tucked into the northwest corner of the stadium. We were protected from the fanaticos to our left by a barbed wire fence, but were otherwise generally exposed to the home fans on all other sides (though, admittedly, many were of the "upper class" variety).

During the match, despite the hostile conditions, much like our team, the supporters persevered and were never intimidated. After Bocanegra headed home, we erupted while the rest of the stadium completely shut down. The back and forth between the Guatemalans and the Gringos was pretty hostile sounding, although it was generally tongue-in-cheek as many of the surrounding chapines were actually American residents rooting for their motherland.

After the final whistle, some plonker in front of us tried to start a fight with a couple in our crew but we wisely laughed him off. His mates ended up kicking his ass for us. The post-match scene was one of the more hostile environs I've ever been in though, as the police were about five minutes too keep the enraged idiots amongst the guatemalans at bay. Several trash items were heaved into the American section and the riot police kept us there till the stadium cleared out.
The streets outside the stadium were clearly too hostile for us to be walking around, so security escorted us down to the pitch and planned to have our bus meet us by the players tunnel. This was awesome as they let us hang around the pitch for about a half hour after the match and I lit up the victory cigar on the pitch!


While all of us maintained a brave stand, our coward of a bus driver fled leaving us stranded at the stadium. This created a bit of a problem as we had no way to get back and the streets were still too hostile for us to walk back to the hotel. Fortunately, the US team had yet to leave and offered to send their bus back for us after they dropped the players off. This allowed us to give our boys a rousing congratulations as they boarded their bus. Demarcus Beasley even went out of his way to come out and sign some autographs - which means the Road to RSA kit will never be washed again.

When we finally arrived back at the hotel, we ran into none other than the captain for life, John Harkes. Harkesy was gracious enough to take some pictures with us and share some stories from the road.

Most of us then set off in search of a victory dance (read: multiple, multiple shots of tequilla). We ended the night slamming a bunch of tall boys in the hotel lobby. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the amazing duet that Kellen and I put on with the drum kit and the piano, or the pushup contest which I dominated (natch).

Right now, we are on our way to Lago de Atitlan.

More to come with pictures on sunday.
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Starting lineup

Ives probably had me beat, but the US is starting this way:

Dolo-----gooch----boca------HP Sauce


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Gringos suck my ass!

Sounds from cuatro grados norte. This one is building up to be a real cracker. I've already had to shower with some agua pura b/c I was douched with beer.

Oh, we're still about 3 hours from matchtime.
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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Headed for Guate!

Ughh, its a Wednesday and the US is playing Guatemala tonight at the famed Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City. Right now, its 9:00 am and I am on a short layover at the ATL airport waiting to connect to Guatemala City.

This day never really began for me as I opted to not sleep in order to ensure that I made my Sixx:AM (shoutout to Nikki) vuelo esta manana. I am not gonna lie: I am F'NG BEAT!

However, earlier this week I had the good fortune to see Devon Harris, a member of Jamaica's acclaimed 1988 bobsled team, speak about overcoming the difficulties he and his teammates encountered in making their Olympic dream a reality.

So, in his Olympic spirit, I vow to keep on pushing and to make today legendary.

I ran into Rob from Detroit and one of his buddies a few minutes ago. They are conveniently on the same flight. The plan is to meet up with Winney, Beth and Brian at the hotel and then to rally with a bunch of other US fans.

As is typical, I still need to pick up the match tickets.


Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it's bobsled time! Cool Runnings!

(Or something)
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