Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Lack of Postings - USA - Trinidad in Chicago (September)

I'll be the first to admit, I am lazy. Make that... very lazy sometimes. I had taken a hiatus from updating this blog. Well, it's time to get back into the fold.

Where did I leave off. Oh yeah, USA - Trinidad in Chicago.
After being in Chicago from Saturday through Tuesday doing all sorts of shenanigans (see prior posts), it was finally gameday.
As is the case with many of our NY/NJ crew road trips, Chef Leon was gracious enough to spearhead a tailgate effort. Even with a shoddy grill (thanks Home Depot for selling us 1/2 a grill), the Chef was willing to put together a wide range of tailgate items. My memory is fuzzy, but it was quite an effort. After preparing everything the morning/afternoon of the match, guests arrived at ESC House - Chicago style: Chris from North Carolina and Chris from NYC.
With parking lots not opening until 4 PM, we had plenty of time to stop for beer on the way to the stadium. Arriving at 430 (amazing considering the road traffic around Chicago) or thereabouts, we met up with Kirwan, Goalkeeps Greg, and Pastor Jeff in the lot and began the usual festivities: eating, drinking, talking soccer, and shenanigans.

Chef Leon (wearing USA Hat) talking to fellow tailgaters at Toyota Park in Bridgeview.

One of the regular shenanigans is our "Human Google Map." Everyone lines up around by location of their hometown and we take a picture. Started in Chicago during this trip, it is a recurring theme which you will see in future posts. Anyway, here's our Chicago tailgate map:

Fina (Long Island on the left, Flip in the middle from Brooklyn, Leon/Chris on the right from Manhattan, and Chris all the way down from North Carolina in the back. Picture taken from the north.

Eventually, Rishi (pictured below) and his party bus crew showed up to add to our numbers and to our party atmosphere. Finally entered the stadium around a half hour before kickoff. Drum in tow, even with small numbers we were able to lead most of the section in song.

Rishi in the white jersey/USA bandanna in the midst of the USA section at Toyota Park.

The USA was dominant in this game winning by the final score of 3-1. Two things that stood out: the 15 minute Ohhh USA to end the game. Doing one chant for that long kept the energy going to end the match making it a very good atmosphere for that period of time. One of those goose bump kind of moments.

The second item, related to the first, is that Chef Leon was banging the drum so hard with the stick that the stick broke in half at the final whistle. I have no picture evidence to support this, but I can assure you it happened.

USA Supporters Section in Chicago

After the game, a bizzaro moment occurred. Some girl walked up to us in the parking area asking for directions, meanwhile she was bleeding badly from her one hand. When one our guys commented that she was bleeding, she put her hand behind her back and continued conversing. When offered a towel, she proceeded to walk away.

Quickly, Stadium Security forced us to leave the stadium area. They were a real pain to deal with and for those who have been to Bridgeview I'd like to know if security has forced you to leave the parking area within an hour of a game ending.

We arrived back at the house, where some of us chose to hit up a post game destination. Completely blanking on the name of the bar, but we partied with the NJB Crew reminiscing of the game and discussing future matches (including August 2009's USA-Mexico game in Mexico City which I will be attending). We ordered some local pizza. I never had Chicago pizza before, so this was a treat. Huge pie cut into little squares. Excellent and recommended.

Afterwards, we took a taxi back to the ESC House. It was around 130 AM at the time and most of the guys went to sleep as we had a 6 AM flight home.

A few friends we had met in Chicago were interested in hanging out one last time, so one other guy and myself decided to pull it together and go out one last time in Chicago with them. As the locals know, most bars close at 2 AM in Chicago. However, there are a few places open until 4 AM.

Needless to say, by the time we left the house we had to hit a 4 AM joint. So, we get to one about 5 blocks away. A couple local brews in and some reminiscing about good times in the Windy City it was close to 330 AM. We walked back to the house and said our goodbyes.

As I had to be awake by 415, I had about a 30 minute window to get some shut eye. As we had a full house that night, there was little space in the house. I just laid down on the patio and closed my eyes. Needless to say, that was the greatest return flight ever from a trip. I remember about 5 minutes of it.

All in all, great trip. It wasn't long until the next adventure: Washington DC for USA-Cuba which I will recap in my next post.

P.S. - The month long ride that was the 2008 Red Bulls Playoff Run.


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