Monday, June 25, 2007

The Gold Cup Final

We left Ypsi about 9:45 (Eastern Time) heading for the 2:00 (Central Time) game in Chicago. I'd never been to Soldier Field before, & all I really knew about it was from pictures of The Grateful Dead playing there. It was renovated a couple years ago & it's really cool, but doesn't resemble the old pictures at all. I was driving & making sweet sweet time; we got to Gary in 3 hours at which point Dan & I both noticed the smell of sausage in the air. When Elizabeth asked what the stench was, we both answered at the same time. I said kielbasa & he claimed hot dogs, but either way, it was clear we were getting close. After navigating our way through the South Side to avoid construction on I 90, we pulled into the lot about 1:15 (Central Time). For those of you not up on the conversions, that's 3 hours to Gary & then an hour & a half to the parking lot. The drive was nice though... we stopped at an A&W to use the rest room & my sister claimed there was a woman shooting up in the can. That's classy. The walk from the parking lot to the gate was long as hell too, though & my father wa having a rough time of it. I would have dropped him off at the gate, but we didn't realize how far away we were. I asked a security dude if he could get a ride to the gate... no dice. I asked a second guy who was actually in a golf cart... no dice... "I'm working here. I can't cart people around. I'll get in trouble." I asked him how much trouble there will be when my father collapses on the asphalt. He then decided to acquiesce to my request. We then met him at the gate and proceeded to look for a handicapped entrance so he could take an elevator up to our level. 1st guy: " Nope, there aren't any elevators in there, but if you go that way, it's all ramps." Once we found that there were stairs in place of the ramps we stopped and asked another guy. 2nd guy: "I can take you up this VIP elevator, but there aren't any wheel chairs available." We were making progress, & guy #1 was obviously a douche bag. We ended up going up a freight elevator where we found a woman who got a wheel chair & ensured the dude who brought it would be there at the end to help my father back out. It was obvious that guy #2 wasn't as douche baggy as guy #1, but not as in the know as woman #1. Once we got beer & I scored some Phantom Menace nachos, we proceeded to our seats about 20 minutes into the 1st half.

The game was pretty evenly matched, but Mexico scored w/ about 10 minutes to go in the 1st half. I think there were 2 people offsides during the play, but neither was called& in the replays on TV, they don't show the play from that early. The dude who passed the ball over the mid-field line passed it to someone who was offsides & then he in turn passed it to someone who was off sides. From there, it progressed up the field & no one else was off sides. The US defense looked like shit though as the ball got slotted between a bunch of people to a wide open striker. The crowd in Chicago was about 80% Mexican fans & the place went fucking nuts. I snapped a couple pictures of the celebration, but was feeling as though the drive + the long walk were going to equal a shitty Father's Day present for my dad.

It turns out that the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. In the 62nd minute a questionable penalty kick was called when Brian Ching went down in the box & Landon Donovan took a great shot to tie the all time US international scoring record. He has 34 international goals & he's only 25 years old. It would have been nice to see him break the record, but watching him tie it was pretty cool too. This by no means makes me a fan of either Donovan or Ching, but I have to give Donovan credit... he's a scoring machine. When Beckham lands in LA next month, the 2 of them will be unstoppable. A draw & extra time looked like a suitable end since the teams were so evenly matched, but then off of a corner kick a Mexican defender cleared the ball and Filhaber nailed it into the far corner from about 25 yards. The majority of the crowd fell silent, but Dan & I lit it up. I turned to the sea of Mexican fans and said, "Come on Mexico, make some noise... 2nd place is still pretty good. You're better than most of the teams in the tournament." This made no one happy (other than Dan & my dad... even Elizabeth was pissed). Someone was wearing a Marquez shirt (Marquez is the Mexican central defender & he plays for Barcelona who just finished 2nd in the Spanish league), & I told him Marquez must really enjoy finishing 2nd to do it on 2 different teams this month. Looks of murder formed in his eyes & I could totally see myself falling into the "football hooligan lifestyle." Someone then threw a roll of toilet paper onto the field & the Mexican goalie, Sanchez, proceeded to remove it. The shouts from others about Mexicans cleaning up the grass didn't surprise me, but they seemed a bit the racist claims were obviously uncalled for. Dan, however, yelled, "That's right, Dirty Sanchez, clean yourself up w/ that toilet paper!" That was totally called for & fucking hilarious. At this point, a couple of angry, drunken Mexican fans started throwing beer on us, but it wasn't the 1st time that happened to me & I doubt it will be the last. When the beer chucker was leaving before the medal ceremony, I asked him why he didn't want to stay & support his 2nd place team. Elizabeth pushed me away before he had the chance to hit me like he so wanted.
My father & Dan waited for us to pick them up by the gate & apparently met John Harks, a US star from the early 1990s. Elizabeth & I got the car, but it took forever to get to the gate because all the roads were blocked off. I finally asked a cop w/ a Ditka-Stache how to get there & he asked, "Why would you even want to go there?" Nice, "Um, to pick up a handicapped person at the gate" dumb ass. Soldier field: Douche bags, Ditka-Staches and the stench of sausage.
The drive home was pretty uneventful aside from the fact that we nearly ran out of gas trying to get to I 94 before we pulled off. We then stopped for dinner in Chesterton, IN at Gelsosomo's Pizzeria. The food was fantastic & they had Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure! I fucking rocked! At 8:00 central, we were back on the road & killed the next hour & a half alphabetically listing breweries: Arbor Brewing Company, Blue Moon, Coors, Duvel, E & B, Fat Tire, etc, etc. We then switched to names of countries, but that didn't last long. By the time we got to Zimbabwe, we were on the home stretch & a good day was had by all... except the plethora Mexican fans.

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