Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Field Trip Report - Slovakia v USA

Got a great post for you from regular reader Anthony Ives who lives in Glasgow Scotland. I love these kind of stories!

Two weekends ago, 15 other US soccer fans and I travelled from London, Cambridge, Prague, Vienna, and even Illinois to Bratislava to cheer on the US in their friendly v Slovakia. While it doesn’t show up on most travelers’ hit list, Bratislava turned out to be a great place to spend a weekend as it has an interesting mix of old world charming churches and former Habsburg palaces, lots of graffiti covered socialist era cinder block buildings, and really tasty and cheap beer and gut warming food. We took full advantage of the latter as we all met up before the game at the Slovak Pub in the city center to enjoy a few litres of pilsner, garlic soup, and pierogis and get ready to cheer on the Yanks. After some lively debates of who should replace Charlie Davies and whether John O’Brien was better than Claudio Reyna, it quickly became apparent that most of the group would be earning their first cap. The few of us veterans of World Cups, Gold Cups, qualifiers in Central America, and Barra Brava had some good laughs trying to come up with just a few chants that everyone could follow and away we went.

With little coordination and even less ability to hold a tune, we sang a few chants on the way to the stadium and were welcomed by the local fans that seemed a bit surprised at what the hell we were doing there. The ticket takers were even more surprised and insisted that we all be led in together by a security team to a safe section where we were surrounded at all times be a team of six big security guards. The extra caution turned out to be completely unnecessary as were seated in a family section right behind the US bench, and given that only 7000 people turned up for the game we had the first several rows all to ourselves.

The small crowd gave us a chance to give some good shout outs to many of the players, especially during the run of play as the Slovaks were a pretty quiet bunch. It was great getting an up close look at Spector - solid in his US debut at center back, Cunningham - my pick to replace Davies, Cherundolo - active up and down the field, and McCarty – scrappy and hard working as a late sub in his first cap. It was less great seeing Casey’s lead foot and heavy legs, Dempsey out of place on the left flank, Bradley always dropping back as far as the centerbacks to start the play, and Feilhaber almost complete invisible and useless in the middle of the field. In the end, the Slovaks deserved the victory as we just didn’t look sharp and seemed to miss the creativity and spark of guys like Donovan, Davies, and perhaps even a Torres or Adu. But it was not a loss for those of us who made the trip as we had a great time before, during, and after the game, once again reminding ourselves what a great experience it is to be a US soccer fan.

Highlights of the Day:
-The bartender at the Slovak Pub playing Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” on our way out the door.
-Our Barra Brava friend’s recount of being at the team’s hotel the night before and watching Jozy trying to find a way to crash the high school prom taking place there.
-All of us cheering loudly for Charlie Davies during the entire 9th minute of the game.
-Shouting “show us your Clint!” to Deuce (even though it’s an old Clint Mathis cheer) and watching one of our security guards bust a gut laughing and then his buddies laughing when he translated it into Slovak

Lowlight of the Day:
-We were absolutely pissed that no one from the team walked over to us after the game to acknowledge all the cheering we did for them. I’ve never been to a game, especially an away game, where at least a few of the players don’t come over to acknowledge the fans for their support. They knew we were there as a few waved to us before the game and before the 2nd half, yet no one made any effort to thank us after it finished. I felt especially bad for the newbies among us who seemed really let down as they thought that thanks from the players was a tradition they would get to experience. I’m going to write to the Federation as I really hope this never happens again.

See you in South Africa.


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Editors Note: Anthony sent me this cool souvenir from the game!


Anonymous Anonymous said...


7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice write up.
It does seem pretty bush that no one came over to thank the travelers.
That is one thing that will stick in my mind when the remaining players from Cuba went around and thanked their fans at RFK, and in so doing got a standing ovation from the US fans.

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Neal said...

Brucio, you and your readers are the BEST. Thanks for bringing this to us.

Peace and futbol.

7:30 PM  
Blogger digchros said...

This was an awesome read. Thanks for sharing.

11:25 AM  

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