Soccer – The Most Important of Life’s Unimportant Things
May 13, 2007
The main thing that separates American soccer from European soccer (apart from, you know, stuff like salary, tradition, attendance, and quality of play) is that American supporter groups get together and share drinks and good cheer before and after the matches, rather than pelting each other with cobblestones and hitting each other with blunt objects. Now, call me an Ugly American if you will, but I think our custom is better.
But that’s just me.
Not only that, but if you’re really, really lucky, you tailgate with people like the Cauldron in Kansas City, you get home made barbecue and Newcastle Brown Ale on tap.
At a tailgate.
It’s like finding one of the Seven Lost Cities of Gold. But with soccer. I’ll take that over a cricket bat upside the head any day.
I met Dax McCarty’s Uncle at the tailgate – a terrific gentleman who told some really cool “young Dax” stories. That was one of the highlights of the day.
I also got to see the great Bruce McGuire, who writes the DuNord soccer blog. Usually when you hear someone mention Bruce and DuNord, you see the word “indispensable” thrown in there, and rightly so. If you’re not reading it every day, you should be.
Bruce was covering the game for Top Drawer Soccer, and actually had credentials around his neck. Every amateur soccer blogger’s dream come true. Very cool gig for him, but it kept him from having enough time to hang out and drink some of the Cauldron’s beer with me. Such is the journalist’s life.
Arrowhead Stadium is cavernous. It’s a beautiful stadium – old, but not in a decrepit run-down way. You could mistake if for a new stadium if you didn’t know better. It has the third best grass in MLS, outside of PHP and PHP Field 1. George Toma invented modern professional sports grounds keeping, and this is his house. The turf looked like a snooker felt, and probably played just as smooth.
For soccer, the only problem with Arrowhead is that the 70,000 empty seats detract mightily from the passion and enthusiasm of the 10,000 or so that actually come to the game. And for a small crowd, they are a good crowd. I’ve said many times in the past that the people of KC are stupid, in that they have a jewel of a soccer team, but fail to support it. It would be a crime if this franchise got moved, and it would be a slap in the face to the small but loyal group that actually show up.
Wake up, people!
The Cauldron supporters group, as a matter of fact, have grown threefold from last season. Part of the growth comes from a small but hardy group of Argentinian expatriates who have brought South American style enthusiasm to the group. They also moved from behind the goal to the TV side of the field, halfway between the endline and midfield. I think this makes them more visible, and lets them be heard quite a bit better. Behind the goal at PHP is terrific, because you’re close to the action. At Arrowhead, you’re wayyyy back. It was a good change of venue for them.
The Inferno was given a good section in the corner, on the expensive seat side. We made it to our seats toward the end of the FC Dallas warm up, and it was gratifying to be close enough to start some chants to the boys, and see them react. One of the things I love about road trips is that I really believe our boys appreciate the effort.
I may be naive, but I believe it means something to them, as much as it means something to us to know that it does. Seeing Richetti smile when we starting calling out his name, well, I’ll pay $3.20 a gallon and drive to Missouri any old day for that.
We came up with a new chant for the coach, sung to the tune of “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow”. You know: “Steve Morrow, Steve Morrow, we love ya, Steve Morrow, you’re only a game away . . .”
Not bad for improvisation.
We tried to get something going for Richetti to the tune “On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese . . .”, but we’re still working on it. You can’t rush genius. You just can’t.
And Dario was back. He was as glad to see us as we were to see him, I know, because he saw us from the field.
Oh, and in case you were wondering if he’d be rusty after the long layoff, let me sum it up concisely.
He was sharp. Razor sharp. He had his first save in the first minute on a wicked header by Sasha Victorine that he tipped over the bar with lightning reflexes. Without a doubt, he was ready to play.
We had a great time in our little corner, singing, chanting, and, in the second half, abusing Kevin Hartman. Class act that he is, he responded in the way that a gentleman and professional should.
That’s right – he turned to us and grabbed his crotch.
Kevin, Kevin, Kevin.
I hope your Mom was watching. I’m sure that made her Mother’s Day one to remember. “Eight pounds, twelve ounces, and now he’s grabbing his crotch in front of 10,000 people. I’m so proud”.
And of course this only caused us to give the boy our full and undivided attention, which has driven better keepers than him to therapy and long-term medication. We brought out the big guns, commencing a chant that called into question the dimensions, indeed if not the actual existence, of certain aspects of the man’s physiology.
As this is a family website, I’ll only say that the chant rhymed with “beetle stick” and let it go at that. If your kids read this and want further elaboration, please, by all means, don’t hesitate to drop Buzz an email. He loves stuff like that.
Now, this was cute. Over to our right, there was a group of half-a-dozen youth soccer players, no more than 8 or 9 years old, all in their uniforms and everything. Good home team kids that they were, they were loyal to the Wizards, and were taking umbrage at our vociferousness. They starting chanting “Let’s go Wizards”, incessantly, and in a highly pitched if not loud chant, for the rest of the match. It was charming.
Unsuccessful, but charming.
Also, there was a young lady several rows above us who yelled abusive epithets in our direction and kept flipping us the bird.
Okay, that wasn’t so much ‘cute’ as it was ‘entertaining’. Especially when a grandfatherly-looking security guard took her aside and lectured her for her very un-ladylike behavior. Kansas City is a very respectable town, don’t kid yourself.
Parrish got her phone number. Expect a Spring wedding.
Sadly, every single goal scored in the game was at the far end of the stadium, so we barely saw them. Of course, that didn’t stop Harlan some unidentified person from lighting off a smoke bomb in our section, in celebration.
Memo To All MLS Supporters Groups Contemplating KC Roadtrips: I have it on good authority that the entire security staff at Arrowhead stadium has had their sense of humor surgically removed. This is apparently a prerequisite for getting the gig.
The only thing the Greenshirts at Arrowhead hate worse than road flares and smoke bombs, it seems, is unauthorized paper products. They rushed our section and stomped out the smoke bomb, sure, but they got downright huffy when we threw confetti, and actually threatened one of our number with a night in jail for throwing a streamer up in the air.
Now, let’s parse that out, briefly, shall we? One of the security staff at Arrowhead Stadium threatened to:
1.arrest a person and take them to jail
2.for throwing a streamer
3.straight up in the air.
Not a glass bottle or a ball peen hammer or a gardening brick, mind you. No, a rolled up stream of of crepe paper.
And not on to the field, mind you, where it could have put someone’s eye out. No, straight up in the air, so that it remained at all times, in our very own section.
Guys, really, ease up. We’re not a bunch of faux-fascist hooligan eurotrash here. We’re a bunch of folks from out of town, enjoying a game. Take some advice from the great Bill Murray and “Lighten up, Francis”.
But troopers that we are, we refused to let the man keep us down, and continued to enjoy our evening of Major League Soccer (Experience the Passion!).
When the final whistle blew (after a late KC goal and an interminably long four minutes of extra time), the team, to a man, came over to our section and gave us some love. Handshakes, high-fives, and attaboys all around. It was a great win on a great night.
Sometimes, life is just good like that.
See you Thursday for the first Brimstone match of the year.
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