Category Archives: World Cup Qualifying

Success!

Waiting an extra 27 hours for the announcement and loyally maintaining a membership to U.S. Soccer has paid off.

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Kudos to the soccer gods for not scheduling this game the same weekend as an Ohio State home football game.

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Get it together, USSF

While we have been not recapping our Euro 2016 adventure, we’ve been tentatively planning a quick jaunt down to Columbus for the USA/Mexico World Cup qualifying match in November.

Because of the allure of a USA/Mexico game in Columbus, home of so many dos a cero matches, tickets are in incredibly high demand. U.S. Soccer is allotting tickets differently as a result: no longer are you taking your chances in a standard Ticketmaster first-come, first-served sale. Instead, everyone is thrown into a big drawing and, the higher your seniority is with U.S. Soccer (thankfully, we’re quite loyal), the greater your chances are for tickets.

So, we’re probably good for tickets to the game but not definitely good and that will make a girl nervous.

Especially since Katie has already made arrangements to fly in for the match.

From the beginning of this ticketing process, U.S. Soccer told the public that the lottery results would be available on October 10.

On October 10, we all checked our email 1,271 times.

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Until just after 4:00 pm, when we were told that we would find out before midnight.

And then we continued to check our email furiously.

Some of us intentionally stayed up late.

And then midnight came and went. So we stayed up a little bit later.

And then all of a sudden, U.S. Soccer had the courtesy to tell us the tickets would not be allotted until the next day.

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It’s hard to believe that U.S. Soccer figured that out at the stroke of midnight. Not at a respectable hour such as 9:00 pm when fans would have had ample time to Tweet out a few complaints before taking a shower and heading to bed?

Lest you think that U.S. Soccer ironed out the situation during business hours, I will point out that it is 9:06 p.m. on the day that we were promised tickets after not getting tickets on the promised day and: crickets.

C’mon, USSF. We have trips to plan and patriotic bandannas to buy.

Sweet Vengence

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Sorry, Holiday Inn Express – Columbus manager. We could have sorted this out between the two of us but then you went and ignored our email. Which is almost as rude as cancelling someone’s hotel reservation 30 minutes prior to their arrival.

Redemption, part 3

The elevator opened on the second floor (there was some groaning because we weren’t going straight up to our room) and there was Edgar Castillo. Standing in his team gear, holding his cleats.

2016 Edgar Castillo headshot

This guy has great timing.

And we’re standing there dripping in red, white and blue.

There was no playing it cool.

Lauren: “So, you’re staying here?”

Edgar Castillo, laughing: “We are.”

Lauren: “Okay good because I’m going to need to meet Tim Howard.”

Then we get off at our floor. Lauren more or less immediately went straight downstairs to the hotel bar, where Chris Wondolowski and Brad Guzan and Kyle Beckerman are just chilling at the bar.

Lauren, being no fool, took her seat at the bar.

Which she immediately abandoned when she saw Tim Howard sitting at a table nearby.

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THIS FINALLY HAPPENED AND IT WAS MAGICAL.

She told her darling Tim Howard about his namesake, Howie, and about her Tim Howard is My Spirit Animal sign (which made an appearance in Brazil and Columbus and which he said he had heard about, but not seen) and he was kind and gracious and shook her hand and smiled for selfie.

And it all happened before Alyson could even take an elevator downstairs.

We chilled at the bar after and had a drink and marveled at our good luck and checked out Alex Bedoya’s hair from across the room (that’s…a lot of flow, dude) and didn’t bother another player for a selfie or an autograph or a kiss.

If we hadn’t had our room cancelled.
If we didn’t check out where the team bus was parked.
If we hadn’t parked on the street.
If we didn’t go to dinner after the match.
If the elevator didn’t stop on the second floor.

The soccer gods were looking out for us that day.

Redemption, Part 1

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Road trip!

It’s no secret that our trip to Pasadena for the CONCACAF Cup was basically the worst.

Tuesday’s World Cup qualifying match in Columbus was our first foray back into the USMNT game circuit since last October’s Trip From Hell and we are pleased to report that it went well.

Very, very well.

Starting with a disastrous phone call.

We were about 30 miles outside of Columbus when we got a voice mail.

It was the Holiday Inn Express calling. To tell us that our room for that night had been cancelled and given to another customer. They were booked. We were screwed. Call us if you have any questions, have a nice day.

We called because, yes, we had questions. Questions such as HOW COULD YOU JUST GIVE OUR ROOM – THE ROOM WE BOOKED THREE MONTHS AGO – AWAY?

See, just recently, the credit card that the room was reserved with was stolen and had to be replaced. Then the hotel tried to charge the old credit card number and, when it didn’t work, instead of doing some basic customer service such as calling us, they just cancelled our room.

We were 30 minutes from Columbus and had nowhere to sleep.

Holiday_inn_expressThe front desk agent who we talked to was not helpful. His contribution to the phone call was basically a shrug of his shoulders and a disinterested eye roll. No apology. No offer of any solution whatsoever (including offering to get us booked at another Holiday Inn Express location in Columbus, of which THERE ARE TWO MORE).

After a good bit of back and forth, he finally found the problem solving skills to transfer us to a reservation agent.

(“Our computer system cancels the room automatically, I’m so sorry that happened. Our property is booked for the night but I would be happy to help you find another room in the area.” Is that so hard?)

The front desk guy had insisted that the hotel was sold out that night, but the reservation agent miraculously found an available room. An available room that was identical to the one that had been cancelled.

For an additional $50 a night.

Yeah, no thanks. We’ll pass. You’re a Holiday Inn Express, not the Ritz Carlton, and we were only staying there because we could walk to the stadium from the hotel not because we are passionate about your bland-ass rooms and your stingy breakfast buffet.

Powered by the magic that is Priceline, it took all of 5 minutes to book at a nicer hotel, in a better area, for 35% less.

A nicer, cheaper, better hotel that also turned out to be the team hotel.

But we didn’t know that just yet.

In two weeks’ time

IMG_0757You didn’t think that all of this looking forward to France meant that we would skip out on the Men’s National Team’s World Cup Qualifier in Columbus, did you?

Our trip to Los Angeles may have been a heartbreaking and disastrous mistake but we will overcome. We will road trip to Columbus.

Anything for Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and patriotic merriment and — fingers crossed — a win against Guatemala.

 

Columbus: September 10, 2013

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.

1279018_10103017641818423_920740823_oBut of course! As unofficial ambassadors for our great nation and also the fine clothier that is Forever 21, who were we to resist?

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.

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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.1277073_10103017648385263_120966184_o

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.

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We saw the USMNT play twice in South Africa. We were in the stands for the draw against Slovenia. We had our hearts broken (in the midst of the worst road trip ever) in the Round of 16 against Ghana.

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.