I’ve attended only one soccer match prior to last night’s viewing of USA Vs. Paraguay and the game I did see was composed of 6-8 year-olds in a youth soccer league. Obviously not a very strong comparison point. Still, saying no to comp tickets to check out the second of the two game series seemed dumb and I’m always open to suggestions for things to do. My daughter and her friend in tow, I set off to Nashville’s LP Field, the usual playing field of the Titans taken over on Tuesday night by futbol and its fans.
1. Rain means nothing — The weather forecast called for rain to hit an hour into the game. Since my umbrella broke a few weeks ago, we spent thirty minutes driving around town beforehand, searching for a humongous golf umbrella capable of covering one man and two giggling, pre-teen girls. We finally found a 62″ beast, made our way to the gate’s of LP Field with a few minutes to spare before the beginning of the match…only to be told that we weren’t allowed to carry in certain items, umbrellas among those included. B*tches. Thirty minutes and $15 wasted.
On one of the few chances the meteorologist was right, showers started coming approximately five minutes before intermission, turning into downpours quickly and sending everyone without protection into the stadium’s hollows. Also, the rain made the makeshift souvenir shop stocked with ponchos the hottest, busiest section aside from the restrooms most likely.
See my face, three ponchos and another $15 later. Coincidentally, a fellow walked past us carrying a laptop. The kids and I looked at each other, baffled.
2. Soccer fans are much more rabid and energetic than fans of other sports. They scream, yell and drown themselves in beer. They beat on the seats and wave country flags. They hoot and holler at the most random of occurrences, or at least ones that seemed common to me. Still, the energy of the crowd consumes even innocent watchers like myself and by the 60:00 mark, I too was slapping the seat in front of me while chanting “U-S-A” every time our team threatened to score. All told, the turnout was the largest in Tennessee’s history for a soccer match.
3. I’m not sure if the US team is strong on offense or if Paraguay rope-a-doping them defensively. Soccer analyst I’m not but we had plenty of chances to score and had more shots on goal. In fact, the majority of the match, the US squad had the ball on their end of field, constantly feeling as if each touch of the ball would lead to a score if nothing more than due to a law of averages. They never did, which sort of made the whole thing seem for naught. But…
4. “The beautiful game” is rather…beautiful — Live soccer is quick-paced. Blink and the game’s breaking point passes by in an instant. After watching for a while, I realized that the “random occurrences” happen to be the minute details that make the game what it is. Paying close attention to the footwork, the maneuvering of ball and seemingly shared telepathy between teammates are all amazing. Unlike football and basketball, highlight moments don’t depend on scoring as much as the quirks and small instances which amaze.
Grade A, smash-mouth American football still ranks tops for me but now I have a better sense of the draw soccer possesses. Fancy and aggressive at once, the sport holds a high entertainment level and odds are I’ll give it another shot if they bring the action to Nashville again.
Thanks to Tim for the tickets and encouraging me to give it a shot.
Edit: I forgot one of the most important elements of the night and one that helps to determine how much I like anything. Airports, hotels, any venue I visit, I correlate my level of enjoyment with if they are smoker-friendly. LP Field does have a designated smoking area FTW!