USA vs. Argentina Soccer Match
East Rutherford Travel Blog› entry 1 of 3 › view all entries
June 8th, 2008 – by: seventy6daytripper
It started out on a night when I was reliving the USA vs. England friendly through an article on ESPN.com. I was scrolling through the match stats when I noticed the advertisement to go and see the MNT play Argentina at Giants Stadium. It took me a few seconds to realize that I'M CLOSE TO GIANTS STADIUM THIS SUMMER!!! Philly's only 2 hours away....straight up the NJ Turnpike, and I'm there! I couldn't believe my luck, so I got on Ticketmaster and bought a ticket ($65) right away.
After a lengthy stay on the Turnpike, I arrived at Giants Stadium to a scene bigger than anything I'd ever seen on an NCAA football or NFL gameday. Talk about tailgating....there were tents, grills, pits, soccer 'pitches' and loyal supporters all over the place!! Parking wasn't cheap, but I wasn't about to drive from Philly to NYC, then take a bus and try and navigate my way around that mess without having ever been up there. After arriving, I was glad I drove. Since I had my US jersey on, I got horn honks and fist pumps from all my fellow US fans, and strange and disgusted looks from all the Argentine supporters.
After parking about a mile away (still, it was worth it) from the stadium, I packed my ticket and camera and headed for the entrance to the stadium. Along the way, I picked up a quesadilla from some US fans that saw my jersey, I sent a low cross ‘into the box,’ only for it to be snuffed out my the keeper…..of the refridgerator cardboard box, and I joined in a US per-game cheer. I wasn’t even near the stadium yet! The atmosphere outside the stadium was electric. You could tell that this was an important game. The US hadn’t scored a goal against their previous two opponents, England and Spain. And the Argentines came in ranked #1 in the world.
When I finally got inside the stadium, I went directly to my seat. I wanted to see just how good it was….. judge for yourself….that’s what $65 got me for an international soccer match against the #1 team in the world. Pretty good!! My excitement carried me out into the pavilion area and around the stadium, admiring all the people, all the festivities going on. There was no lack of enthusiasm or loyalties once inside…it only became more heated. I stayed away from the Argentina side of the stadium, haha. I picked up some dinner (food at a stadium is always expensive, you know that), bought a few souvenirs, and made my way back to the seat just in time to see the teams come out for warm-ups.
This was my first glimpse at….all of these players, so it was thrilling just to see them warm up….as you can tell by the pictures I took, haha. After warm-ups, the two teams went and got dressed, then came back and lined up on the pitch for each team’s national anthem. This would be the point where chills went down my spine. Apart from an NHL hockey game (Canadian National Anthem), I’ve never heard another country’s anthem live. This was special. Seeing the Argentine players singing, and seeing the thousands of their loyal fans behind them in the stands, I think the significance of the event hit me right then. This is something one may not get the chance to see very often.
At kick-off, the stadium was charged more than ever.
The half ended 0-0, as would the end of the match. I fast forward to the last 10 minutes of the match. Yellow cards were given, red card ejections, ‘injuries’ etc. The US had turned it up a notch in the second half and really looked like the more proven team. Unfortunately, the score sheet wouldn’t show their brilliance with the ball to create great chances. However, all this excitement, this feeling like my last two years of falling in love with soccer had culminated to a point, this one….
With 10 minutes left, the rains came. It started to absolutely pour on New Jersey, Giants Stadium, the two national teams, and, to our supreme enjoyment on a hot and humid Sunday night, the fans in the stadium. If the fans played a part in the events of the night, then the rains played an even bigger part. Almost as soon as it started raining, the two sides came together as one. Chants and cheers were louder than ever, and fans started dancing wildly as the teams played riskier balls, passed dangerously, and became most aggressive, running up an down the rain-soaked pitch. As a member of the 22nd row, I felt like I was right there in the middle of it. Each shot, each pass, each breakaway gave new life to our side, in hopes that we might get a lucky ball through Argentina’s keeper.
The match ended 0-0, but the US played valiantly, proved their mettle, and were able to take away strong points into their qualifying campaign. All the fans left energized, happy to witness such a thrilling match. And I left having just had the best experience of my life.
If you EVER have the chance, take it. :)
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