Upon checking into the hotel, we were completely ignorant to the fact that the team was staying under the same roof.
Given the Holiday Inn Express disaster, we were feeling pretty fortunate that we had a room to stay in at all.
We got match-ready in a bit of patriotic garb. Then we headed to the 4th Street Bar and Grill. It’s a short walk to the stadium from the bar and we were lucky enough to snag on-street parking. (Sorry, MAPFRE Stadium, for denying you our $20.)
4th Street Bar and Grill was full of USMNT fans, as always, but the atmosphere was nothing in comparison to the last time we were there: pre-USA/Mexico in 2013.
To be fair, that would be hard to top.
We had a couple of drinks there and then bumbled down the road to MAPFRE Stadium.
Lauren made many friends, as she always does.
Walking through the Guatemalan fans was reminiscent of strolling through the aisles of Mexico fans back in 2013. We stopped for pictures here and there and so it took just as long, too. (Thanks, blond hair.)
We got to our seats with plenty of time to catch the pregame warm ups.
And also to rapid-text our one and only Guatemalan acquaintance, Dr. Guillermo, who did not take us up on our invitation to join us at the game and was undoubtedly regretting his decision.
And also to sober up.
We have snagged some really fantastic seats in our soccer-watching days but these might have been the best. Right at the middle. Sun to our back. Low enough to see detail, high enough to appreciate the flow of the game.
There was a lot to appreciate in that USA/Guatemala match up. Unlike the disastrous showing a few days prior, America’s best really came out to play.
The Americans pulled out a very convincing 4-0 win, including a goal by Clint Dempsey – the king of gritty – in the 12th minute and another by Graham Zusi and his flowing locks. It’s always nice to see Jozy Altidore score, as streaky as he is. Geoff Cameron scored, too, but that was practically the least of his contributions. He was great all match.
We loitered around after the game, trying to get a glimpse of where the team bus was parked and how we could have Tim Howard see Lauren and therefore immediately fall in love with her but we abandoned that plan rather quickly because it was:
a. cold as hell
b. mildly creepy
c. likely that we were going to get hit by the hundreds of cars exiting the parking lot.
So, instead, we opted for food.
There’s basically nothing a good grilled cheese sandwich can’t fix, including not meeting Tim Howard, and the grilled cheese sandwich at Bodega was phenomenal. Plus the television at the restaurant was playing the U.S. U-23 Men game vs. Colombia, so we got to catch a bit more soccer over dinner.
Credit where credit is due, Columbus: you’re a solid soccer town.
Following dinner, we went back to the hotel to fall asleep to the soothing sounds of a Dateline murder mystery playing on the television.
But then we got on the elevator to go up to our room and everything changed.