Sunday, March 24, 2013

Epic Night In Commerce City

View of the NW corner from 108 right at the end of half

We'll get to the Rapids debacle in LA tomorrow.  First lets look at Friday night's epic World Cup Qualifier.  Yeah, as a game it stunk.  After the first 20 minutes or so it was 22 guys against the elements, not two teams.  Who cares though, that doesn't detract from one of the more memorable games I've ever attended.

The evening started with a great tailgate put on for the American Outlaws by the Centennial 38 tailgate crew.  I'd say a rough estimate is that we went through over 1500 hot dogs for close to 2000 people.  I helped the grillers out as much as possible once I arrived, so I didn't see much of the tailgate, but it was a great job by everyone to pull it off.  Denver has set the bar high for pre-game entertainment going forward.  About midway through the tailgate, the snow started.

After shutting down the tailgate and helping to clean up Hibbie and I headed over to the Dick, where I ran into the one negative moment of the evening.  Smartly, KSE opened every gate for the game (during most Rapids games they only use about half the gates) but at least at the two gates immediately next to the Cantina their staffing left something to be desired.  The gate just West of the Cantina had no readers for Flash Seat tickets, and when I got to the one just East of the Cantina the guy with the reader had left but would be back "momentarily".  WTF?  It only amounted to a few minute delay but I really have to wonder what KSE is thinking, not fully staffing every gate.

Once I got in I realized we were headed to a record attendance (actually we missed it by 306 as FIFA doesn't allow standing-room only tickets for World Cup Qualifiers like the Rapids do for 4th of July games.  Still broke 19K though.) so I decided to just get to my seat and not worry about doing any shopping or buying any concessions for this one.  I had eaten enough at the tailgate and the free scarf had the game listed on it so I had my souvenir of the game.  The first 20 minutes or so the U.S. controlled play and Clint finished off a deflected shot to get the Yanks the important early goal.  Between the 20 and 30 minute mark the weather became the dominant force in the game but the game was still playable.  The U.S. did a good job keeping possession and protecting the lead.

At halftime apparently the party moved to the men's bathroom in the south end as everybody crammed in there for warmth and continued the singing and chanting.  I stayed at my seat to enjoy the unusual weather as it kicked up a couple of notches.  By the end of the half, as you can see above, it was really coming down.  The second half was just about survival as there was no way for either team to play as a team.  In the 55th minute the game was paused.  ESPN's announcers said it was because the officials were calling the game, but post-games reports suggest that the Center Referee just wanted to give the grounds crew time to clear the lines.  In a vacuum the game should have been called, nobody was really able to play in that storm and while it was safe to play and the game could go on, there wasn't much of an actual game going on.  Life doesn't exist in a vacuum though, and while the ref isn't supposed to take schedules into consideration I'm sure he knew that the storm was supposed to last through Saturday (and it did) and both teams had to fly to Central America for games on Tuesday, so stopping the game and getting replayed was a bigger headache than just continuing to play.  Late in the match Costa Rica managed to equalize, but it was correctly called offside.  That woke the U.S. up a bit and they realized there was still something on the line.  They finished the job and grabbed the crucial 3 points.

Men of the Match (and possibly women as well) were clearly the grounds crew.  They were out there at every stoppage, and even at times when the play was in the other half of the field (something Costa Rica is using to file a pointless protest) keeping the lines clear and the field playable.  The team rewarded them with a perfect memento, a signed snow shovel:

DeMarcus Beasley was probably the player of the match, while Clint Dempsey stepped up as captain.  Even if Landon Donovan returns, this is Clint's team now.

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