Category Archives: Well she was an American girl. Raised on promises.

Celebrity Status

We’re painfully behind: there’s almost an entire Euro 2016 trip to recap, followed by a trip to Columbus for a USA/Mexico World Cup qualifier with a less-than-desirable result and a look ahead at a possible trip to Cleveland, Ohio for a Gold Cup group stage match.

For today, however, we are just here to make an announcement: we are officially U.S. Soccer Federation celebrities.

img_2385img_2386img_2387-1

Yes, it’s true: we’re basically the fan face of USSF.

And, while we don’t always agree with the federation’s choices (BUT NICE CALL ON FIRING KLINSMANN, BTW), this one is spot on.

Who do we need to call about getting our tickets comped?

Advertisements

Well played, U.S. Soccer

An unexpected package arrived this morning.

IMG_0683

IMG_0684

It was quite the flashy presentation.

IMG_0685

Congratulations on the new crest, U.S. Soccer!

IMG_0686

It will undoubtedly look fantastic paired with our extensive collection of patriotic leggings.

That time the USWNT came to us

DSC_0051We are used to having to travel to see our national teams but, for once, the national team came to us.

The USWNT was in Detroit as part of their Victory Tour, celebrating their Women’s World Cup win.

U.S. Soccer was nice enough to give us on-field passes for their training session, which happened the day before the game.

DSC_0053

Hello, goalies!

Then we had some quality time with the Women’s World Cup trophy (and a few Ford Field staffers).

DSC_0058

DSC_0062

As is only proper, we went to Thomas Magee’s Sporting House in Eastern Market (where we watched the Women’s World Cup Final) to make merry before the game. It was a decent crowd for a random Thursday afternoon.

CPZPk8TUYAEFvMz

The Supporters marched together to Ford Field. The march was missing the magical atmosphere of our last march with U.S. Soccer fans — and it was also missing the bottle of Jack Daniels that we passed around — but there was something special about marching through our hometown with a harmless gang of soccer hooligans.

DSC_0063

The Americans were set to play Australia until the Matildas went on strike. Good for them, bad for us. The last minute replacement was Haiti.

DSC_0067

Here is Lauren contemplating how she is good enough to play on the Hatian team.

USA 5 – Haiti 0.
DSC_0076

Despite the lopsided win, it was a fun time, an awesome reason to break out our patriotic skinny jeans and a really good warm-up for October.

What’s happening in October?

Stay tuned.

(Hint: dos a cero.)

Round of 16: USA vs. Ghana

We conserved our energy on Saturday morning because we had a big day planned: USA vs. Ghana in the Round of 16 (meaning we would be expelling extreme amounts of passion and fandom for our boys in red, white and blue) in Rustenburg (meaning Bus Ride of Torture: The Sequel).

 The game in Rustenburg didn’t start until 8:30 pm.  We were taking the FIFA fan bus again, sadly, and it didn’t leave until 3:00 pm.  So, we spent our morning lounging around the hotel – Lauren did her homework just like a good little student – and we headed into Sandton around 1:00 pm. 

In Sandton, we had a quick lunch at a café on Nelson Mandela Square.  We had been to Nelson Mandela Square several times by this point in our trip, but we had never seen it so crowded with soccer fans and locals.  I’m sure it had something to do with the gorgeous, sunny, mild day.  And the good shopping.  And the many restaurnts.  And maybe the ESPN studio that is located there. 

We each ordered a drink with our lunch.  In preparation for the bus ride ahead, of course.

Even the alcohol couldn’t make it better.

The ride was still long and cramped and boring.  It still took well over two hours.  (And by “well over two hours,” I mean it took three.)

The entire operation was slightly more organized this time around, thankfully.  And we arrived at the stadium in Rustenburg with plenty of time before kickoff.  As a matter of fact, we had so much time that we had the ability to stand in line for 45 minutes in a failed attempt to buy a couple of hot dogs.

I don’t know what the deal was with Rustenburg, but it was a bit of a mess.  It was astounding, really, that the venue had hosted games for three weeks and couldn’t efficiently make/sell/distribute concessions.  There were probably 10 lines that stretched 15 people deep.  In the 45 minutes that we stood in line, we saw three people successfully leave our line with food.  Two of them were employees.

Not cool.

Hansche girls do not like to be hungry.  Hansche girls do not like to eat Cliff Bars for dinner.

And then the Americans had to go and lose that game!  In additional time! 

It was not an awesome day.

But there were still awesome parts of it.

It was awesome that the USA was playing in that game.  From the time of the draw, Lauren and I always assumed that England would win Group C.  We briefly entertained the idea that the American team could play in the game, remarking how cool and how unlikely that would be. 

It was awesome to have another opportunity to wear all of the patriotic gear that we’d hauled all the way to South Africa.  It was really fun to get all decked out in the stars and the stripes.  Seeing all of the other Americans doing the same was always a blast, too.

It was awesome to have a perfect view of Landon Donovan’s successful penalty kick.  We had the perfect seats for that moment: right at the penalty spot at the goal where he took that shot.  Lauren got some great pictures of that moment.  It’s too bad that the American team couldn’t score a proper goal.

It was awesome to watch Tim Howard play goalie.  Because Tim Howard is awesome.

It was not awesome that the Americans lost.  It made the bus ride home just a little bit more painful.  As did the bitter British man who sat behind us and, just as we were sitting down, proceeded to loudly rant on about how stupid all Americans are.  Slightly insulting.  Definitely unnecessary.  Ignorance is so ugly.

We didn’t get back to Nelson Mandela Square until 3:30 am.  We took a taxi back to our hotel.  Lauren ate pasta that had been sitting, unrefrigerated, in our room for 27 hours.  (And never got sick.  Is her stomach not amazing?)  And I set our alarm clock for 7:15 am.

Yes.  You read that correctly. 7:15 am.

Tying up loose ends

With all of the big tasks (tickets, airfare, accommodations, transportation, passports, etc.) out of the way and the calendar getting closer to June 15, it is definitely time to start tacking the smaller items on our to-do list. 
 
I’ve been keeping a list for a few months now, jotting down tasks that needed to be addressed…eventually.  Eventually is here, boys and girls!
 
The theme of the past week has been checking items off of the to-do list.
 
Transport to/from Rustenburg for June 22 and June 26: complete!  Yes, the intercity bus information was released the day following my passionate whine about how terribly unfair it was that I didn’t have times/prices/details/bookings for our trips to Rustenburg.  Yes, reservations opened up two days later. Yes, all of that needless worry probably subtracted a few weeks from my life.

Purchasing of one (1) miniature University of Michigan flag: complete! Why the UM flag for the World Cup?  Oh, friends, you’re going to have to wait and see what comes of this super secret mission. 

Visit to the travel clinic: complete! While I’m still not entirely convinced that an appointment at the travel health clinic was absolutely necessary, it is better to be cautious than to come home with an outrageous superbug growing in my intestines. 

The nurse running the clinic gave me a lot of information on how to stay healthy in South Africa (which I haven’t yet read).  She turned on a 25 minute video on how to stay healthy during my travels, which might have been helpful, had she not talked through the entire thing.  But I can tell you all about the nurse’s reading habits: information which, I’m sure, will do loads to keep me from drinking contaminated water. 

Besides an earful from the very gregarious nurse, I got a Hepatitis A shot.  My arm hurt for two days.  She also gave me a prescription for Cipro that was accompanied by a handy guide on how to use the medication for “self-treatment of moderate to severe traveler’s diarrhea.”  Yeah.  I’m totally okay with paying $9 for the prescription and never using the pills.  Do you hear that, travel gods?  I am totally, totally okay with it.

I still need to go back to get my Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis) vaccine.  Which I’m sure my coworkers are really looking forward to.  As though listening to me whine about my sore arm for two days post-Hepatitis A wasn’t enough torture for those poor people.   

Purchasing really cute covers for our passports: complete!  We are taking this opportunity to buy random, darling accessories and we are SEIZING IT.  (The weakness for accessories is genetic.)

Purchasing patriotic hair accessories and beads: complete!  Thank you, retailers of America, for putting out your Independence Day merchandise so ridiculously early. 

Purchasing of various electrical converters/adaptors/gadget thingamajigs: complete!  After reading countless reviews/forum postings/articles/websites/packages, I made my purchases.  I’m 70% sure that what I bought will:
a. work in South Africa
b. prevent the implosion of our various electronics.

I can’t stand to think about the mechanics of electronics for a second longer, so 70% odds will have to do it.  If it isn’t right, we’ll fix the problem when we’re there.  Or have no internet access and no pictures or video of our trip.  Because that wouldn’t shatter my heart into a thousand pieces.  Nope.  Not at all.

Getting our tourist on

When choosing accommodations for our two weeks in Johannesburg, a big selling point for the property that we selected was the shuttle and tours that it was providing to guests.

We are packing a lot of games into the two weeks of our trip, but there was never any doubt that we were going to tie on our sneakers, hang our cameras around our neck, slather on the sunscreen and get our tourist on.

(If you see two loud American women with curly, strawberry blonde hair, posing for a picture every 25 seconds – please stop to say hello!)

Our guest house is arranging a Soweto tour. At a reasonable price and on a day that we’re not attending a match, we jumped at the opportunity to book seats on the Soweto tour.

Additionally, the guest house has tours of the Lion Park and the Elephant Sanctuary available on days when there are nighttime matches in Johannesburg. There’s really nothing I love more than packing my schedule excessively full, so we’ll likely take one (or both) of these tours on days when we’re also seeing a match.

The guest house has also scheduled a few South African evenings, where guests can “partake of a good South African braai.” There are few things we like to do more than eat, especially when the eating can be disguised as cultural exploration. Count us in!

Unfortunately, a trip to Kruger National Park for a proper safari didn’t fit into our itinerary. We’ve elected for the best alternative: a day tour to Sun City and Pilanesberg National Park on another one of the days that we aren’t seeing a match. We booked the trip through a tour operator recommended by our guest house. While the tour isn’t exactly inexpensive and it will require us to get up painfully early, we’re awfully keen on seeing the wildlife.

We have one additional full day, plus a few half-days, that we can spend how we please. I have a few ideas up my sleeve (and in my travel binder) – the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, Montecasino, Gold Reef City, Cullinan Diamond Mine – but certainly no solid plans.

What do you most want to see when you’re in South Africa? What do you recommend that we do? What shouldn’t we bother with?

U-S-A, U-S-A

While completely content with the matches we had tickets for, it seemed silly not to see the American squad play a match if it were possible to do so. 

We’re American.  We look good in red, white and blue.  And it should be especially fun cheering on our home country. 

So, I took a gander at the schedule. 

June 12: England vs. USA We’re still stateside. 
June 18: Slovenia vs. USA
June 23: USA vs. Algeria  We’ll be at Soccer City, watching Ghana v. Germany. 

Okay.  June 18 it is!  Decision made.

When the third ticket sales phrase rolled around – you could put your application in any time between December 5, 2009 and January 22, 2010 – I put in a request for two tickets for the Slovenia/USA match at Ellis Park.

On account of the fact that:

  • We’re American
  • I’m financially irresponsible
  • I suspected that doing so would increase our chances of getting tickets

I applied for Category 1 tickets (Fun reminder: those are the priciest ones) and indicated that I would be willing to take tickets in a lower category.

(Obviously, willingness to buy Category 1, Category 2 and Category 3 gives you much better odds than saying that you want only Category 3 tickets.)

I was awarded Category 1 tickets. 

(Sorry, wallet!)

In honor of the occasion – since we’re American and patriotic and willing to make asses out of ourselves – we’re going to go all out. U.S. Soccer tattoos on our cheeks.  Ribbon in our hair.  And a lot of quality USA apparel. 

I’m pairing a new scarf with a U.S. Soccer fleece that I already own; Lauren purchased a new hoodie to wear while cheering on our fellow Yanks. 

And, yes, there will be temporary tattoos on our cheeks. 

And ribbon in our hair.

And maybe one of those obnoxious Uncle Sam hats.  Or a Statue of Liberty crown. 

Patriotic and embarrassing go hand in hand.