On Saturday, we drove down to Jacksonville to watch the last friendly game before the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team heads to Brazil for the World Cup. It was my first professional soccer game, and I was very excited.
Before going to Everbank Stadium, G suggested we get a bite to eat. I looked for someplace interesting on my iPhone and found a wood fire pizza place called Pele’s that had great reviews. Pélé is a Brazilian soccer player considered by many to be the best player of all time, with 541 league goals and over a thousand total goals scored during his career. He is hailed as a national hero for both his accomplishments in the sport of soccer as well as his support of policies to improve the social conditions of the poor people in his country.
I know, the restaurant’s name probably refers to the volcano goddess instead of the soccer player, but still, it was a good call. The restaurant is in an artsy part of town surrounded by interesting shops. Everything on the menu looked so good, it was hard for us to decide what to get. We settled on an order of Tuscan Fries (yummy), three different pizzas and a Fried Green Tomato Sandwich. Everything was outstanding.
With happy, full tummies we drove the 15 minutes to the stadium. Well, it should have taken 15 minutes…. with the soccer traffic it took more like 40 minutes. As we passed the exit for the West side of the stadium, G asked where our seats were. Hell if I knew. I pulled up a map of the stadium and what do you know, our seats were on the West side. It took another 15 minutes to get to the East side exit. But it was just as well that we missed our exit, because just as we made the turn in front of the stadium, the bus carrying the U.S. Team arrived!
We didn’t know where to park, so we floundered around a bit, made a u-turn, and lo and behold the bus carrying the Nigerian Team passed by us, along with its police escort. Exciting stuff! We followed the advice of the policeman directing traffic and turned down Tallyrand St and managed to get a great parking spot.
As we made our way to the stadium, we got caught up in a colorful crowd of chanting and singing fans. Everyone was taking pictures and filming the raucous throng, and it was so much fun to be a part of it. The excitement was as thick as the humidity in the air around us!
We had incredible seats, five rows up and virtually in the middle. And to top it off, we were on the shady side! The crowd was pumped up and G even got goose bumps when everyone sang the national anthem.
The game was great – both teams played well and there were no altercations. G even convinced a couple of people he was Jürgen Klinsmann’s brother. He kind of looks like him, and he is German. Of course, if he was related to him, I doubt we would have been sitting where we were…we would be up in the VIP cushy box seats! The guys obviously didn’t think of that.
My only complaint was the couple in front of us stood up for most of it. When G suggested to the guy that he sit down, he turned around with his red, white, and blue guitar shaped sunglasses and said
This is soccer! Nobody sits down!
I’m looking forward to some good soccer games in the upcoming weeks… I hope our boys play well.
Go Team!! :-)