Maybe you’ve heard: the USMNT has qualified for the World Cup.
We were there to witness it.
There’s this thing about when the USA plays Mexico in Columbus. They win. By a score of 2-0. Dos a cero.
It pisses the Mexicans off.
We drove to Columbus the night before the game. We spent the first half of the game day wandering around Columbus. We spent the second half of the day drinking at the 4th St. Bar & Grill. And then in the parking lot.
Tailgating. It’s the American way.
While walking to the stadium we had a little bit of a flashback to South Africa, where groups of men from various other countries couldn’t resist getting a picture with a pair of American girls. There were plenty of Mexican fans in Columbus. We were wearing the outrageous pants we bought last winter. One jolly group of Mexican fans stops us to ask if they could get a picture with us.
One picture turned into 12 pictures turned into Lauren wearing a sombrero turned into some man snickering “blondies, blondies, I love the blondies” turned into 49 pictures. That is a conservative estimate. Lauren finally pulled the diva “okay, okay, one more picture” so that we could escape.
Lauren needed to reunite with her buddy Tony Meola.
(If you didn’t know, former USMNT goalkeeper Tony Meola was Lauren’s childhood hero.)
Inside the stadium, the atmosphere was as electric as it was for the 2012 World Cup qualifying match against Jamaica. Except way more awesome and way more intense and way harder to describe.
A ridiculously huge portion of the stadium was allotted to members of the various USMNT fan groups. All of whom brought it. It was loud. There was a great tifo*. And scarves. And chants. And all of that magical fandom that makes watching live soccer so brilliant.
Here’s what else was brilliant: the match.
Which ended, serendipitously, in a 2-0 victory for the Americans.
But it is going to take a very, very special match to beat out the intensity and the excitement of the game we witnessed in Columbus. 2-0. Clinching a World Cup berth.
Perhaps a bit of American magic awaits us in Brazil.
*Tifo: Noun, Italian in origin, tifo is basically any awesome choreographed fan display.