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A Wet Night in the Windy City: Observations from the MLS All-Star Game

One of our own takes advantage of a trip to Chicago by catching the ASG at Soldier Field. It doesn’t go well.

MLS: All-Star Game Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Realio’s Log:

2:30 p.m.: I wake from a nap refreshed and excited to go watch some live soccer in a football stadium!! Outside it looks overcast. My app assures me that rain is 0% chance until 11 p.m. I grab my Sounder at Heart sweatshirt and put on jeans anyways.

3 p.m.: Sans baby, we hit the road. It promptly starts raining. Father-in-law assures me that we are 45 minutes outside Chicago and it won’t be raining there. The plan is to get to the city, pick up my sister-in-law, find some beers, and head to the game. Food and beers and soccer — this is going to kick ass.

3:30 p.m.: Trying to follow SaH on my cellphone in the back of small car as Mario Andretti weaves through Chicago traffic. I am now carsick and doing a crash course on who the heck “Johan Kappelhof” and “Hakimi” are. We are still on track schedule-wise, but I am frantically looking around the backseat for something to puke in. Neither CR7 I am actually familiar with will be playing in this match.

4 p.m.: We’ve made it to dry land! Not sure what happened in the last 30 minutes as I fell asleep attempting to make the driving nightmare go away. I am hungry. It’s no longer raining. Lots of people walking around with Cubs hats on.

4:15 p.m.: My wife wants Starbucks, because of course she does. We walk to the nearest location to wait for her sister to get off work. I get the S’mores Frappuccino because the label on the menu board says “IT’S BACK” - if someone wanted it back it must be good!



5:30 p.m.: Somewhere in the vicinity of an hour late we are all finally together, hopping into the motion-sickness mobile and heading to the stadium. Game starts at 7:30? We are right on time to get there and get some food and cold beverages. I’m hungry.

5:45 p.m.: Hmm, traffic looks pretty gross.

6 p.m.: We have gone a mile.

6:01 p.m.: I

6:10 p.m.: AM

6:20 p.m.: DYING

6:30 p.m.: HERE

6:40 p.m.: We have gone 7 miles.

7 p.m.: Seriously, we left 4 hours ago in another lifetime and we are now finally parked near Soldier Field. The last 30 minutes was a lesson in getting cut off, fearing for my life, and learning not to use your horn cause you might get shot. We exit the car and stumble the half-mile walk to the stadium. There is no time for refreshments. I’m still starving. Traffic in Seattle has NOTHING on Chicago. I was continually reassured that “this is normal, it’s no big deal.” What a mess. We went 10 miles.

7:15 p.m.: What idiot thought to wear long pants and bring a SWEATSHIRT? It’s like 80 degrees and 400% humidity. What a goon. Now I have to carry this thing or tie it around my waist and let’s be honest, that’s just not a fashion that flaunts my looks. My body is oozing frappuccino as I stumble towards the stadium, which looks very space age and metallic and not really soldiery at all. I resist making Bears jokes as the father-in-law is as hot, hungry, and grumpy as I am. I am literally putting the sweat in sweatshirt.

7:20 p.m.: Lots of Real Madrid jerseys on the walk. A few MLS kits as well, including Sounders jerseys on folks who catch my pitch black and give me the “nod”. You know the “We just won the friggin’ MLS Cup what have these guys ever won?” Getting to security along with 60,000 others 10 minutes before kickoff, what could possibly go wrong?

7:30 p.m.: Well, that security was nothing compared to a typical Sounders game. I am pretty sure I could have snuck in nun-chucks. Or a drone. Or a bag larger than the size of my hand that isn’t clear. We find our awesome seats and then I volunteer to get some foods. This stadium is nice and our location is great. This is awesome.

7:40 p.m.: Wow. I just bought 4 beef sandwiches and 3 Coors Lights. My total was EIGHTY FOUR U.S. DOLLARS. ($84). Are you friggin’ kidding me? I vow to never complain about the Clink food and beer options again. I may have to sell a kidney. The peppers on it are so hot the beer is gone in 5 minutes. This is ridiculous. Contemplating taking a loan to get another beer. This sucks.

7:50 p.m.: Still hungry after sandwich. Frat bros behind us are discussing which strip club they are going to after the game, their weed dealer, and the “Mexican dude in the bathroom who was giving out free shots from a half gallon he snuck in.” In a bathroom. Oh, and one is openly smoking a cigarette from his seat right behind me. Youths.

8 p.m.: Torrential downpour. Lightning is lightening the sky around us constantly. Everyone around me too stupid to bring pants and SaH sweatshirts are instantly soaked. I am less instantly soaked and quick to point out my genius in bringing a sweatshirt. The anthem is sung by someone named JanCarlos. No space? Weird. It was an odd rendition, with stops and starts that befuddled the two Timbers fans in the building trying to annoyingly wave their scarves around during the song as usual. Three helicopters flew over all AMERICA F YEAH as a lotta fireworks went off. Impressive pyro!

8:05 p.m.: Kickoff. I am now wearing 27 pounds of sopping wet sweatshirt, semi-full of overpriced beef and beer, but I am at the MLS All-Star Game dammit. Internet/WiFi connection is spotty so my spicy hot takes on the game are lost :(

8:40 p.m.: I wish there was more to say about the game itself. Madrid is really good, organized, and obviously playing at half speed. It’s clear that across the line they are a better squad but it’s not glaringly evident as MLS guys worked hard and defended well across the lines. Atlanta left back bro hurt himself. In his place 48-year-old DaMarcus Beasley looked OK with constant, desperate tackles to block shots. Real’s offense filtered through Isco, who had his way with anyone he wanted. Hernandez was also really impressive. Madrid’s concept of finishing involved trying to chip Tim Howard from 5 feet away, which failed on multiple occasions. The MLS squad tactics included weird attempts at possessing the ball against a superior team, and the result was pretty obvious. Schweinsteiger kept dropping into the box to play give and go with Howard, slowing everything down on that end of the field. Kaka did the same on the other end, making for some ponderous, possession-without-purpose soccer from the MLS guys. It pretty much went how you would expect, Altidore dove, Van Damme almost broke a few guys in half, and there were no Sounders to care about. Serious lack of “trying shit.”

9 p.m.: Halftime is the guys from that podcast on MLS. Meh. They handed out an award to the “best fan.” It was a Timbers dude. Meh. Someone talked to Mike Magee. Meh. It’s still raining, and lightning apparently means nothing as it’s striking all around us. The non-soccer fans I am with are looking to me to see how they should feel about this. I muster up a thumbs up because you know what? it IS fun, just maybe not for them.

9:10 p.m.: The second half starts and likely because Frei was on the field it was highly entertaining and vastly better than the first. Without those old dudes holding the ball and making 5-yard passes, the MLS stars went much more direct, catching Madrid time and again spread out. Suddenly both teams were racing up and down, and guys like Dax McCarty were releasing quick passes up the field that caught Madrid off guard a few times. If anyone more nimble than Nemanja Nikolic or Dork Dwyer were up front the good guys might have scored one of the numerous breakaways that were cut off by Madrid’s sweeper keeper. This reminded me of Seattle just needing to play faster and more direct at times this season. The game being so open led to a back and forth and exciting second half. MLS had multiple great chances that just needed a bit cleaner play up front. Defensively though, the team was weak and Dax couldn’t do it all, and eventually Hernan Grana was caught wandering around aimlessly marking nothing around minute 60. Some dude name Mayoral apparently didn’t realize he was going against Frei and lucked into a goal.

9:15 p.m.: In response to scoring, the Spanish side subs in some bozos named Benzema, Marcelo, and Bale to park the bus and earn all 3 points. I gotta say these dudes were impressive, especially Marcelo who was silky smooth both offensively and defensively. They were clearly a step above anyone playing against them, and I would be cool with these guys getting an S2 contract at some point.

10 p.m.: The game is almost over and there’s currently a fight up above us. People are throwing $18 beers at each other like rich animals. I learned some new gang signs. Security is non-existent. MLS is going to lose, right? So who cares about the game? NAY SAYS DAX. No idea how this guy keeps getting open on set pieces he’s the short stocky redhead. McCarty puts in a fantastic header that finds post and Dumb Dwyer cleans up for the equalizing score.

10 something p.m.: We leave slightly before the 62,000 others only to find out there are PKs at this silly game. I watch Douche Dwyer and “owned by Marshall” each miss their PKs on the monitors as we leave. Madrid doesn’t miss. Future S2 player Marcelo seals it as we walk out. Final tally: MLS Champ jerseys - 14. Trees: 2

Midnight: I have managed to survive my MLS ASG experience and return to the parentals’ house. I am starving, because my overpriced (and over-spiced) sandwich wasn’t that filling. It’s midnight, and I have to be up in 2.5 hours to go to the airport. With a 1-year-old. I hear it’s hot in Seattle. Did we sign Derlis yet?

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