USA vs. Argentina Soccer Match

East Rutherford Travel Blog

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Giants Stadium
The best experience of my life.  I say that boldly, but never more confidently.  The United States Men's National Team played Argentina's National Team in a final friendly soccer match before 2010 World Cup qualifying.  The end result was 0-0, but it was so much more exciting than the result would have you believe...

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.
And here comes some rowdy USA supporters!!
  There was no way I was going to miss such an opportunity.  The likes of Landon Donovan, Freddy Adu, Lionel Messi, and a slew of others would be performing in front of thousands.  I was gonna be one of them.


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.
Both teams warming up
  I could immediately tell this was gonna be an adventure.  

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.
Lionel Messi is a wizard with the ball at his feet
  It would be a difficult test for the US MNT, but one they came ready for….

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.
The U.S. National Anthem


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 closest the US MNT came to scoring against the #1 ranked Argentina National Team.
  We were off!  I’ll say, the Argentines were wizards with the ball.  A few early possessions set up great chances for the South Americans, only to be stopped by miraculous saves by the US keeper, Tim Howard.  I think he might’ve had his best game as a national team member.  The US team looked good as well, but they lacked the fluidity and freedom of movement that the Argentines possessed.  All throughout the first half, opposing sides of the stadium could be heard belting out cheers, chants, doing the wave, whistling at bad call/plays, booing, etc.  And I was right there in the middle of it.  I wasn’t a reporter or journalist at this match.  I only right about it because it’s impossible to keep such an experience in.
Kick-off!
  I was A PART of the match.  I cheered more loudly than I have at Georgia Tech sporting events, got more upset at bad calls than I would watching a game on the TV, I REALLY felt like we, as US supporters, made a difference that night.  

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….
The Argentines pressed early
   Then, it did.  

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 pitch...empty so far...
  It was at this point, with my jersey clinging to my now wet and colder body, rain running off my hair, shoulder to shoulder with fellow countrymen, I knew this was it.  This was what I had hoped and dreamed for since I first saw, I mean, actually paid attention to, a soccer match in Europe two summers ago.  It had finally happened.  

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.  :)

rintjez says:
COOLIES!!! I wish I was there watching!!!
Posted on: Jun 26, 2008
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Giants Stadium
Giants Stadium
And here comes some rowdy USA supp…
And here comes some rowdy USA sup…
Both teams warming up
Both teams warming up
Lionel Messi is a wizard with the …
Lionel Messi is a wizard with the…
The U.S. National Anthem
The U.S. National Anthem
The closest the US MNT came to sc…
Kick-off!
Kick-off!
The Argentines pressed early
The Argentines pressed early
The pitch...empty so far...
The pitch...empty so far...
Free kick (Messi wasnt kicking it…
Free kick (Messi wasn't kicking i…
Tim Howard would have a hell of a …
Tim Howard would have a hell of a…
Here comes the MNT to warm up!
Here comes the MNT to warm up!
Warming up
Warming up
Freddy Adu
Freddy Adu
Landon Donovan
Landon Donovan
Didnt quite make the roster...
Didn't quite make the roster...
And here comes the Argentina natio…
And here comes the Argentina nati…
Bob Bradley and Alfie Basile befor…
Bob Bradley and Alfie Basile befo…
Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi
A few minutes before kick-off
A few minutes before kick-off
The Argentines still making their …
The Argentines still making their…
Freddy Adu and Maurice Edu
Freddy Adu and Maurice Edu
Coach Bradley
Coach Bradley
The walk out
The walk out
Kasey Keller got recognized for hi…
Kasey Keller got recognized for h…
Argentinas National Anthem
Argentina's National Anthem
Kick-off!
Kick-off!
The Argentines pressed early
The Argentines pressed early
The Argentines pressed early
The Argentines pressed early
Messi preparing his free kick
Messi preparing his free kick
Messi sent a good one in.
Messi sent a good one in.
A hooligan ran around for a while.…
A hooligan ran around for a while…
And hes off!
And he's off!
Donovan hoping for a good ball
Donovan hoping for a good ball
Mastroeni got sent off for his sec…
Mastroeni got sent off for his se…
This balloon floated all the way f…
This balloon floated all the way …
And then the rains came...and the …
And then the rains came...and the…
0-0.  A good match for the U.S. te…
0-0. A good match for the U.S. t…
East Rutherford
photo by: seventy6daytripper