Wednesday, November 21, 2007

2007 MLS Cup diary

In the tradition of Michael Davies’ World Cup diary, I’ve decided to post my own MLS Cup journal, letting readers know how self-important I think I am. For authenticity purposes, this piece was written in real time to the extent possible, so if there are lapses in grammar, verb confusion, verb tense, and fragments, it was purely intentional.


PRELUDE

Thursday night, 8:45ish – I journey over to Target in Seekonk to pick up some Honey Toasted O’s (Target’s answer to a certain honey nut cereal) and soda for the trip. Being true to my “never wanna grow up” psyche, I walk over to the toys/kids aisle, where I find a beautiful silver MLS Cup Winner’s replica ball.

Hmmmm…

I think about whether it’s worth it to pick it up before the game, for fear of a jinx. It’s really a beautiful ball, and heck? I could use another to kick around the house during the offseason…right? I decide not to…for at least tonight.


Friday night, 8:45ish again – I pick up some very last minute items for tomorrow’s trip, and walk over to see the Winner’s ball again. There are two of them this time.

Hmmmm…

“C’mon”, says inner self, “pick one up for the trip so when they win it, you’ll already have the ball set to celebrate.” But the potential for a hex once again enters my mind. I firmly decide to buy it first thing on Monday – because the Revs will win it all on Sunday.


SATURDAY

8:00am – I wake up and do my usual abbreviated early morning routine. Eat cereal. Shower. Get dressed. Yes, it’s a fabulous life.

8:23am – I call my buddy Mario, who just attended his first soccer game last Thursday – the Eastern Conference Championship at Gillette. Prior to that match, he had negotiated his way out of attending any soccer game, much to my constant frustration. But because I accompanied him to a Halloween party in full costume (I was a 1970’s cop, a la Starsky & Hutch), he offered to come with me to the next Revolution game. He held his end of the bargain, and had a great time. Now he’s coming with me to MLS Cup. What a lucky friend he is!


8:43am – Pick up Mario. First thing he asks, “Can we stop by a Mickey D’s?” ARGH!


9:07am- Arrive in the P1 parking lot at Gillette Stadium. I allow Mario to take my car down the street to pick up his desired fat-laced fast food breakfast. I head to the Pro Shop to get some kits customized.


9:20am –The young lady at the Pro Shop tells me that the approximate wait for the jerseys to be customized is about half an hour. Talk about cutting it close. I risk it, and quickly hand over my jerseys (yeah, as if that’ll cut down thirty seconds on the wait time), hoping to have them finished before the bus departs.


9:42am – Hoping that she lied to me, and that the customization process is really is quicker than 30 minutes, I run the equivalent of a 100 yard dash from the lot to the Pro Shop doors and check on the progress. One’s done, says another Pro Shopper. The other’s about five minutes from being done…


Six minutes later, I check again, still a few minutes away. Dammit, I’ll just take the one that’s done, which happens to be the white Ralston jersey. The 2005 navy jersey, to which I requested Clint Dempsey’s name and number, isn’t done, and I tell the guy that I’ll pick it up on Monday. If I were more superstitious than I already am, I’d be concerned - the navy jersey was the one I wore while watching the US Open Cup Final, which the Revs finally broke their Championship curse to win, 3-2, over FC Dallas.

9:55am- Check in to the bus. Lucky for me, there’s one seat near the rear, while Mario takes a backseat – literally –as we’re the last two passengers on the bus. What a surprise!

10:03am – Bus departs the lot, and the discussions begin: Ohio over Michigan? Lowell to the Yankees? Heisman favorite? Hey, I thought this was a soccer game we were goin’ to fellas!


10:20-10:38ish – I misplaced my notepad, so I’m looking like fluffin’ Paris Hilton going through her pocketbooks looking for Sidekick. This is troubling – not that I cannot find my pad, but that I have just compared myself to Paris Hilton.


11:16am – So you know that scene in Shawshank Redemption where Red, en route to Zihuatanejo to meet up with Andy, is peering out the window of the bus with the sun kissing his smiling, hopeful face? Yeah, the scene on the bus right now is nothing like that. The bus is jam packed with Revolution supporters. But I have no complaints…after all, it’s a free ride, and I’m in good company.


12:16pm – Finally hit traffic somewhere in Connecticut. I turn back to Mario to see what he’s doing. Yep, he’s half asleep, only the funny thing is that his headphones are blasting Rihanna’s “S.O.S.” loud enough for the back three rows of the bus to hear. Dear God…


12:52pm – First stop at a rest area somewhere in Connecticut. Driver gives us twenty minutes. Naturally, Mario requires twenty-five minutes, and once again, we’re last passengers back on the bus.


2:18pm – Pass through New York, where I peer out to see the NYC skyline in the distance. When I was an adolescent, my family would take my brother and I down to Baltimore regularly for the family vacation, and I would always peer out of my dad’s minivan to look for the New York City skyline just as we approached NJ. I know it’s been since six years since 9/11, but I still get a sad feeling when I pass by, hoping to see the towers, and they’re longer there.


3:20pm – Another stop, this time somewhere in New Jersey. This time, we’re allotted 55 minutes, which begs a few questions: “What the hell are we gonna do for 55 minutes at Jersey rest stop?” I decide to break my old soccer ball, which is stowed under the seats. I palm the ball into the restaurant, pick up some snacks, and head back out for a little kickabout with some kids who are way better with the ball than I’ll ever be. I picked up this game much too late…much too late…

3:55pm – Back on the bus.

3:57pm – A fellow Revs fan to my right, Nelson, asks if I’m keeping a journal. I tell him I am, and he asks me not to mention his devotion to the Hartford Whalers, or the time he bought a Whalers jersey, and had it customized with Brendan Shanahan’s name and number, only for the right winger to skip out of town soon after. Don’t worry, Nelson, you’re secret’s safe with me. I won’t tell anyone.

3:58pm – 7:17pm – Lots of reading my recently-purchase issues of FourFourTwo, Sports Illustrated, listening to a CD, and a halfhearted attempt at a nap. We pass through Baltimore around 6:30ish (I can tell by the bright lights emanating from M & T Bank Park, home of the Baltimore Ravens) and we’re almost in DC.

7:18pm – Bus arrives at the Sheraton Crystal City. A bunch of passengers get off, carry their belongings into the lobby, and we all check in en masse. Did I say I love being a Revolution fan? Normally, this kind of scene would have perturbed me. It didn’t in the least. I was in the company of fellow Revolution fans, all of whom were as dedicated as I to make the journey down to DC.

7:27pm – Mario and I discuss the password for picking up the tickets, to which he has a field day trying to guess.


7:31pm – Reservation confirmed, tickets waiting in an envelope with “Brian O’Connell” on it. No password necessary, much to Mario’s frustration.


7:35pm – Check into our room. Mario does his thing and jumps on the bed like a sugar-laced kid. Unfortunately, this has somehow morphed into a tradition, which began two years ago in Florida, where he proceeded to literally break the bed in our hotel in Ft. Lauderdale. Luckily, no broken beds this time around.


8:09pm – After settling in I start typing away at the laptop while Mario watches Titanic on TBS. He cries…ok, maybe he doesn’t, but the premise would have been hilarious to me.


8:11pm – Head downstairs to ask some at the front desk to see what they’ve got as far as restaurants in the neighborhood….


8:34pm -…at least that was my intention twenty-three minutes ago…ok, now we’re going downstairs.


8:45pm – Crap. I can’t find my digital camera, which I could have sworn was sighted when we first checked in. Go fluffin’ figure. I know it’s around…I think. If not, it’s on the bus. I hope. Just what I don’t need to worry about while I’m down here…and, no we still haven’t exited our room for supper.


9:02pm – We finally motivate ourselves to actually go downstairs to the lobby, before running into a guy in the elevator who says he’s from Minnesota. He asks us where we’re from, and we say “Rhode Island.”


“Oh yeah? Where’s that?”


The he recommends a pub a few blocks down the street. In all honesty, I question the wisdom of a guy who doesn’t even know where RI is. Mario, a chap more inclined to forgive such ignorance, takes his advice, and suggests we go there.


9:17pm – We decide to walk about three blocks down the street to Crystal City Sports Pub. Looks like a lot of Revs fans took similar advice, as the place was filled ladies and gents in navy, red and white. Unfortunately, we are seated next to some thirty something Clemson University football fans next to a large flatscreen TV.


10:00pmish – A Revolution chant sparks up, and the Clemson fans next to us make a stupid comment about how American football is “the real football.” Yeah, ok dude, next time you make a comment like that, keep it to the privacy of your mom’s basement. Loser.


10:25pm – Head back to the hotel knowing we have to wake up pretty damn early to catch the bus at 9:30am. Mario’s fascinated with a show on ants, while I type away here on the bed and watch highlights of the RIC Anchorwomen 2007 season in between thoughts.


12:45am – Bedtime. We’ve got an early morning filled with expensive breakfasts, packing up shop, jumping back on the bus, and attempting to locate my camera. Goodnight!


SUNDAY MORNING

7:48am – Wake up call three minutes late. I’m exhausted. Around three o’clock in the morning, I was awakened by a rowdy party a few rooms down the hall. A part of me wanted to just put on my glasses, show up in my boxers, and party with ‘em, but I didn’t wanna miss the bus in the morning. In short, I got about three hours of sleep. By the time the wake up call comes, I’m exhausted. I soooo don’t wanna get outta bed, but I figure I must set the tone to be early…or at least on time.


8:29am – Head downstairs for breakfast…after showering, getting dressed, packing my bags, watching 15 minutes of SportsCenter, trying to find a CD, picking up the remnants of my half-eaten bag of Chex Mix, and flooding the bathroom floor.


9:15am – I may have just had the worst cup of coffee I’ve ever spit out. I don’t know what it was, but my cohort suggests that there are too many beans, and thus, it is too strong. I suppose I’ve just grown so acclimated to the generic Dunkin Donuts coffee that true Colombian coffee is wretched. Anyway, we hop on the bus a short while afterward, and much to my delight, the bus driver found my camera. Fewf…that would have been an expensive item to replace around Christmas time.


9:40am – Bus departs for RFK.


10:01am – Arrive at RFK. Take the soccer ball over to the Midnight Riders pre-match party. I call Sean and Kevin to see where they’re at. Unfortunately, I’m unable to hook up with either one of them, so Mario and I make our way back to the bus, drop off the ball, and Mario, to my surprise and delight, asks to wear my spare navy Revolution jersey. The brainwashing is far ahead of schedule…hehehe.


11:31am – I’m unable to carry in the laptop with me, so the next time I check in will be after the match. I’m hoping I get to write about a fantastic win for the lads.



11:45am-2:17pm – Great…our seats are located nearly square inside the Houston supporters’ section. Luckily, we have two DC United fans nearby who say they’ve got our backs, after filing their grievances with some of the Revs players. Matt Reis and Jay Heaps are trash, according to them. DC United should be in this match. A bad handball call cost them in the second leg against Chicago…blah blah blah…Taylor Twellman’s a pretty boy…Reis will pay for what he did to Eskandarian. The thought of being picked apart by the rabid Dynamo crowd is beginning to look appealing at this point. (Just kidding…the DC United fans, aside from their complaints, were very nice to us. We chatted for about half an hour about all things soccer. In fact, I sympathize with their efforts to get a new stadium for their beloved club)


Revs go up 1-0 on Twellman’s 20th minute goal. I look back toward the orange mass and pop my collarless Revolution jersey toward them in triumph. Fluff you, Dynamo!


Realizing the potential for a clash, Mario and I head over to the other side of the stadium, where we find three empty seats about six rows up from center circle. Unfortunately, we also have a great view of the two successive Dynamo goals, which clinch it once again for Houston.


UGH.

I don’t wanna leave. There’s gotta be more football, right. Guys…? No, the season can’t be over…no…not like this, at least. It feels like I’ve just been sucker punched by Chuck Liddell...five consecutive times.


2:32pm – Long and sad walk back to the bus, and then find a seat in the back. I can only imagine how the players are feeling right now. They’ve got to feel like “what the hell do we have to do to win this bloody thing?”



The faces on the kids are just like mine. Sad, just sad. It feels like a funeral. I plop down in the backseat, and just stare out the tinted bus windows. Ugh. I don’t usually cry after a loss, but this is the closest I think I’ve ever come. It’s tough to watch this type of misery unfold on TV – to witness it in person is exponentially worse. It gnaws at you; because you’ve invested so much personal effort into seeing them potentially win it this time. Alas, they weren’t able to. The Revs outdid Houston in the first half, but for a 20-minute span in the second, Houston was just incredibly potent.


3:07pm – Well, the bus is nowhere close to full, and I’m fluffin’ starving. I don’t know when this bus is taking off, but I hope it’s pretty damn soon. In the meantime, I make a meal out of a handful of Gummi Savers and Aquafina.


4:10pm – Bus takes off from the RFK lot, and we’re back on the road to Foxboro. Although the somber air is beginning to thin, it’s still tough for me grasp the loss. We should have won this time. How many more chances will guys like Ralston, Heaps, Reis, and even Parky (who may be heading overseas to play English football in the near future) get at winning this Godforsaken championship? I feel much worse for them and the rest of the players more than anyone else.


Anyway, I’ll end the journal right there, as I need to doze off and catch some zzz’s. But before I conclude this piece, I just wanted to make a few observations:


After this experience, I absolutely look forward to future bus trips with Revs supporters next season. I had a blast on this little excursion down to DC, and met a lot of fellow fans, both young and old in the process. The common denominator of the Revolution made it incredibly easy to talk to absolute strangers, knowing that we’ve got something fantastic in common.


Lastly, after seeing so many chicks in Revolution shirts, I must say this: there are few things more appealing than a cute chick in a Revolution jersey. Forget the pink Sox tees, pink hats, or even pink Pats hoodies and jerseys; want to impress a lad like myself? Fix up a smile, sport a Revs jersey, and you’ll almost immediately attract my attention.


So, my goals for 2008:


  1. Attend more bus trips.

  2. Bring Mario (who, turns out, has warmed up to the sport) to more Revs games.

  3. Befriend more Revs fans.

  4. Do more tailgating.

  5. Buy a new camera, and take as many pics as possible in the presence of chicks in Revs kits.

See ya in ’08!

3 comments:

Monty said...

Great job Brian. The diary brought back some fun ... and some not so fun memories. Hope to see you more often next year!

Monty

BrianTheOC said...

Thanks Monty...look forward to doing as many bus trips as I can next year.

Anonymous said...

Not sure where to post this but I wanted to ask if anyone has heard of National Clicks?

Can someone help me find it?

Overheard some co-workers talking about it all week but didn't have time to ask so I thought I would post it here to see if someone could help me out.

Seems to be getting alot of buzz right now.

Thanks