Monday, October 31, 2011

Campeones Campeones Ole Ole Ole - The Minnesota Stars are the 2011 NASL Champions

I went to Fort Lauderdale this past weekend for the grand finale of the NASL Championship Series

Fort Lauderdale Strikers v My Minnesota Stars

This would be Leg 2 with the Stars holding a 3-1 lead from Leg 1

What a crazy whirl-wind trip!
But would you want it any other way?
Left my house at 530am Sat Oct 29.
Rocketed straight south to Miami via jet aeroplane arriving at High Noon.
Departing MSP it was 35 degrees.
Arriving MIA it was 85 degrees.
Joined some other travelers and jumped in a rented black Crown Vic cop car headed back north a few miles to Ft Lauderdale.
Drove past both the Fishing Hall of Fame and the Swimming Hall of Fame.
Dreamed of the Babe Winkelman (empty beer cans & rusty lures) and Mark Spitz (speedos & mustache wax) exhibits I was missing.
Instead of the hotel we went straight to a bar.
Called Maguires of course.
The Russian waitress dressed as a silver robot for Halloween.
I wanted to ask if she was wearing silver underwear too, but thought better of it.
I am a gentleman after all.
Met up with many other fellow fiends at the bar.
By 130pm we were already getting amped.
Tried to visit an art gallery that specialized in street art, but it was flooded out.
Did I mentioned that it had been raining consistently for 24 straight hours down there at that point?
And that it did not stop the whole time we were there?
Got to the hotel on the beach. Ha.
Changed clothes and we were off to the game by 430pm.
Listened to Gogol Bordello and some Haitian music on the way to the stadium.
Arrived at the tailgate and partied in the rain getting completely soaked within minutes.
Giant puddles of standing water everywhere.
No one cared.
We were 17 strong.
Greeted warmly by the Fort Lauderdale Striker Likers - supporters who smartly had lots of tents to hang around under.
They stared at 4 of us in particular who are all well over 6 feet tall and said, "You guys are huge." We said, "We left the big guys at home."
Shared our stash of Surly with them.
Headed into the stadium and had our own corner of the field set aside by the other teams staff.
Hung up some classic banners:
"You'll Never Beat Joe Warren"
"League Owned"
"Open Cup Banned"
"Captain Kyle Altman"
"Occupy Lockhart"
Our players came out to warm-up and greeted us very well.
Score was 3-1 from Game 1 so all we had to do was not lose by more than 2, and we had a great chance.
It was a very intense game and Ft Laud attacked, attacked, and attacked some more.
But our team held stiff.
No errors!
No let downs!!
No prisoners!!!
No goals!!!!
We had some offense, but really none was needed.
Just enough to keep the other team honest.
By about the 75th minute you could sense that the Strikers were giving up.
They had used all 3 subs and none had made any difference.
Around the 82nd minute it started to hit me hard.
My mind was exploding.
Leaping around. Grabbing everyone near me.
We had sung for nearly 90 minutes straight.
None of us had any voice left.
And then, the game was over!
It was over!
The Stars had won!
We ran to the corner of the field (the security would not let us past the fence though.)
The players came storming down to our end, hugging and singing with all of us.
We lost our minds.
We went nuts.
It was glorious.
Then the team went out to the middle of the field for the big trophy presentation.
We kept singing.
The commissioner of the league name checked the Dark Clouds in the presentation.
Oh yeah!
And then the team turned around and raced the trophy straight back to us again.
Lots and lots more hugs, and hoisting up that massive silver trophy.
I could not speak for about 30 minutes.
My phone was blowing up.
Calls, voicemails, texts.
We continued to party.
Off to the big post game celebration then.
Slipped into some dry clothes too.
Players families, wives and girlfriends joined in.
Several hours of joy.
Many beverages were drunk from the big cup!
Loads of pictures got taken.
I hugged tons of people again.
Traded stories for a long time.
Finally back to the hotel about 200am.
Driving to The Gap Band "You Dropped A Bomb On Me".
Up at 830am.
Dunkin Donuts.
Off to the Miami airport.
Connected through Memphis.
Ate Interstate BBQ in the Memphis airport - Oh yes!
Bought a cool ELVIS mug at the gift shop.
Arriving in MSP at 615pm Sun Oct 30.
What a great trip!
What a huge win!
What a fantastic team!
What amazing fans!
The champions!
Shine On!
And we get to celebrate all over again at a team victory party on Tuesday night.
Will be hugging all those great fans that did not get to go to Florida with us.
And all those that did all over again.
What a trip.
Did I say that already?

Now go enjoy these great photos (click to enlarge) taken by my Friends-In-Football Jeremy, Teresa and Brian:


Blogger Rich said...

Great version of the Championship trip Du Nord! Thanks for sharing. See you Tuesday Night.

3:14 AM  
Anonymous Jay said...

Congrats, Bruce!

Reading that description of the day reminds me of the great times when the Quakes won MLS Cup. Ah! Glad to see Manny Lagos is keeping up his winning ways.

Sounds like it was meant to be. Dark Clouds arrive and it rains all day — it's divine providence!

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Geoff said...

Great account of the championship trip, Bruce. It actually moved me and made me feel just a bit of what you must have felt. We are all made of Stars...although some of us are made of Taurine.

12:27 AM  

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