Well the time has come for the 2nd USA game and it couldn't be here soon enough! We all wake up at the normal 830 am and have breakfast where we all talk about today's match. After breakfast we all go to get ready and Curtis and I decide to apply some "war paint" for today's battle. (Curtis did Corey's on the way to the game)
The drive to Ellis Park was great we got plenty of honks and Vuvuzella blows in the way. They loved the fact we were dressed for today's game. The drive to the game seemed to go quickly but finding the Stadium? Park and Ride? Park and Walk? was a test for sure.
Ellis Park is located smack in the middle of Johannesburg in what many would call a "Not so good" neighborhood. We decide to drive to the stadium and work backwards from there. We get close enough to catch a glimpse of the place as we ignore the 100's of barkers getting us to park in their spot? on their hill? on their grass? anywhere we wanted it seemed... For a price.
We zig and zag our way through the busy streets to find the park and ride to the game, HOWEVER!!! we were denied entrance to the park and ride because we lacked tickets. Hummm wait we have tickets to the match so we're all good right? NOPE you need to buy tickets to the park and ride... REALLY? this sucks so we decide to move forward with plan B Park and Walk. Hopefully it's close enough that we can sprint through the ghetto w/out any muggings. We all joke that one doesn't need to be the fastest in the group just not the slowest...Ummm this will be a close one for me :)
We find the Park and Walk and yet again you need a ticket!!! REALLY? Damm our luck! But wait! I've got an idea that has worked for me many of times in my travels to Mexico... I decide to ask the parking officer "Is there any chance i can pay you and then you can pay for our ticket, since it's close to game time and we'd hate to miss the kick off" he agrees with little hesitation after a quick glance over his shoulder that no-one is watching. I slip him $100 Rand and tell him it's for us and the car behind me. We're IN! The scene when we arrive to the parking area is wonderful it appears that this is the preferred parking spot for the USA supporters so there is a warm welcome as we pull in and tail gate for a while.
It's 2 hrs before the game so we decide to make our way to the stadium and what a walk it was. It was about a mile long through what normally would be a not so good area of town however today it's something different. Locals have transformed their driveways into BBQ's where you could purchase hot dogs, chips, and whatever you needed for a pre-game meal.
German and Corey were 1st to stop and grab a hot dog like substance that was out of this world :). Then we notice the preschool is hosting a fund raiser w/ food and drink so we must donate of course. We grab a cold been and bratwurst and relax with other fans.
Here is a picture of Ryan, Brett and Corey at the Pre-School.
So after a a quick sip and a bite we continued our march to Ellis Park. The streets were alive. Kids chanted USA! USA! USA! as we passed and vendors sold flags, hats, etc, etc, etc for today's game. We make it to the gates and German has 2 extra tickets for today's game from a friend who was unable to make the trip and to try and help get some $$ back for him we find ourselves in a different situation we don't need tickets we have extra. "Let's sell these suckers" we say and it proved easier said than done. Everyone had tickets to sell. We make a few laps up and down the street and find a Mexican fan who is in need of only 1 ticket so this being our only offer in 30min we decide to sell it to him at face value. So now we are stuck w/ 1 ticket! What to do? well I come up with the idea (since i don't feel like trying to sell anymore) lets find someone else w/ 1 ticket and let's give them to a local kid so they can watch the match. I had my eye on these to young guys that had been kicking the ball around us as their mom's sold food to us. I found another American w/ and extra ticket and he didn't seem to like my idea and went in to the gates w/ an extra ticket in his pocket! LAME Fortunately someone else with an extra ticket gave it to one of the boys so we were the hero's when we offered the other boy our extra.
These two little guys grins from ear to ear! so we took them under our wings and walked into the stadium w/ them.
I ask them "If they are excited?" they reply "The Most!"
We have now been able to pass our love for the love of soccer along to two young South African boys who may not ever been able to see a game of this magnitude ever. We tell the boys to stay together and have fun. Their seats were in the upper deck and ours were about 20 rows from the field and since our chants and cheers are well above the PG rating scale this was a good idea they sat in their seats :)
Game time! and We cheer and yell in support of our boys in blue and things don;t look good for us at half time. However, we start the second half off with a supportive chant of "YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN!" and 3 min into the half we score!!! then not long after another!!!! it's tied 2-2! We soon score yet a 3rd goal and the stadium erupts!!! I'm now 2 sections over from where i was standing with excitement! As i make my way back to our group i settle in and find out for some reason unknown to ALL that the gaol was called back. WTF Well anyways we stay alive in the group with a tie and we exit the stadium with cheers for our boys who wear the Red! White and Blue!
On our walk back to the car we make a pit stop once again at the pre school for a quick road dogg and cold drink... This was to insure most of the traffic had left and our ride home wouldn't take to long. We make it home safety and all call it a night after a quick recap of the match and we watch the replay of the "Phantom Call" by the Ref!!!