I don’t know if you are a soccer fan, but you probably don’t have to be to know that traditionally the players are escorted out onto the pitch by children. I think it’s a way of reminding them that they are role models. Or it might be a way to keep the hooligans in line before the start of the match. Either way, I can only imagine how cool it must be to do something like that: meet a famous player or two, go out onto a field in front of thousands of people.
Well, now I can do more than imagine. I was able to live it vicariously through my children. Toughie’s travel soccer team was invited to participate in what’s known as the Red Bull Experience. They were given replica uniforms and entered the pitch to stand with the teams during the National Anthem. Through an interesting turn of events, the Regulator was able to participate as well. (His travel team had a similar opportunity a couple years ago, before he joined them. So this was great.)
In case you don’t have an almanac handy, I’ll just tell you: it was honking cold today– 45°and rainy. The Red Bull Arena, while an architectural marvel, causes a fishbowl effect with the wind. But I am happy to report that even though the rain was quite heavy at times, we barely felt any of it. There was a hint of thunder and lightning, but it never affected the game. My sister was able to join us for the fun, and while she was undoubtedly cold, she was content to hang with us. In hindsight, we really shouldn’t have brought Buttercup, but I have to say she was a real trooper– with the help of some popcorn, of course.
There was a huge fan section behind the goal, in the level below us. There was a drumline and several guys leading cheer after cheer. I always wondered how soccer fans coordinated cheers and chants during the game. So- now I know.
The game itself was… ok. First half was awful: the opponent (Chivas USA) scored on a penalty kick in the goal box. The Red Bulls couldn’t get anything off the rest of the half, nor did they look as if they were trying. The second half proved much more exciting. They literally scored at the last minute; off a corner kick by Theirry Henry during the additional penalty time. So it ended in a draw, which proved a point Regulator’s coach made: MLS teams aim for the draw instead of the win.
I was worried that the boys would be cold, or hungry, or bored. But they were none of those things. They discussed penalty kicks and passing tricks. They cheered the home team and critiqued the opponent. They all agreed that we should come back for another game… but hopefully it’ll be warmer.
Here’s to family fun and professional sports: may they both be within reach.
(Oh, and the post title is from the Rage Against the Machine song that played when the Red Bulls scored. See what they did there? Well, I liked it.)