San Jose Earthquakes 2, Toronto FC 2

Avaya Stadium, Feb 29, 2020

A large crowd, undeterred by a second case of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County, assembled to watch the San Jose Earthquakes kick off the 2020 season in San Jose, California.  Avaya Stadium sold out with official attendance at 17,814.   

I didn't want to stand at the bar so I stood here
I managed to hop the rail and enjoyed sitting here as though I was a corporate sponsor

A chilling wind was blowing south and had me shivering by 3pm no matter where I stood with my “Standing Room Only” ticket.  The players on the field noticeably kept their passes low when going north.  I feel proud of myself for being able to make this observation since I know dick about the sport.

As I was wandering around the stadium, I caught a whiff of a very unsettling combination of incense and barbecue.  I didn’t know what to make of it so I quickly bought two beers for $26 and double-fisted the olfactory memory away.  Luckily I was able to find some cheap parking on the floor for these tallboys because my hands were freezing along with the rest of my body.

A classy display of my taste and habits

Oh yeah, the game …

Early play was conservative with the Earthquakes giving the appearance that they were afraid to make mistakes.  By halftime, I tweeted the team to take more shots hoping someone from the social media department would send it down to the coaching staff.

The opportunistic Toronto FC scored two goals, one by a penalty kick on a bullshit call, and the other on an attack that looked way too easy for them.  San Jose quickly responded to the second goal with a beaut by Alex Rios, an ankle deflection that put the score at 2 – 1.

That score remained until the final minute of stoppage time when Oswaldo Alanis, a loaner from the Mexican club Guadalajara, put a free kick into the back of the net to absolutely stun Toronto and end the game in a draw.

Some of the commentary later described San Jose’s performance as underwhelming and I have to agree.  Toronto looked in control despite having the ball only 37% of the time.  The crowd freaking loved it though and I was definitely cheering with a huge smile on my face.  An urge to run around pointing like I had just scored the goal myself did shoot through my brain.

I have one gripe about what was otherwise a great fan experience: POS terminal failures which resulted in cash-only stands and excessive ATM fees.  ATM fees trigger me and I see red for about 2 full minutes before agreeing to pay an extra $3 for my 20 dollar bills.

The monetary tally for this adventure is as follows:

    • $40 standing room ticket
    • $26 for 44 ounces of premium beer
    • $3 – 6 ATM fees if you weren’t patient enough to wait in the longer lines
    • Rode my bicycle so I didn’t have to pay for parking, but had to walk it back for a while before I sobered up enough to endanger only myself on the road

We’ll be back on March 21st to see the Quakes take on Sporting Kansas City, a team that looked extremely good this past weekend.

United States 3, South Africa 0

Levi’s Stadium
Santa Clara, CA
May 12th, 2019

After rooting for and watching them win year after year, I finally got my opportunity to see the United States Women’s National Soccer Team live before they head to the World Cup in France. The game was part of the Send Off Series and this was the first one.

‘Reluctance’ would mischaracterize how I felt about going stag to this match, but the feeling was akin to it. Since it was Mother’s Day, my friends had prior commimtments and I had just visited my family in Texas.

I bicycled to Levi Stadium and donned my San Jose Earthquakes t-shirt only to find no one else was repping anything except the Team USA gear. Among a sea of women (and a few male significant others) clad in white jerseys or other patriotic attire, I stuck out a little.

Sure I possibly exacerbated the feeling when I got caught lecherously staring at some fine ass ladies who then avoided eye contact, I admit it.

But  I didn’t allow myself to feel self-conscious and enjoyed the game from start to finish!

The South African team was outmatched. Their opportunities downfield were few and the game was mostly played on their side of the field, with them defending against constant pressure by the US. When they did manage to cross the 50 yard line (what is it called in soccer?), they failed to do much more than take weak shots on goal.

My favorite player, Carli Lloyd, scored the third and last goal by kicking the ball between the legs of the goalie and past another defender. It was pretty awesome.

I was surprised with how much hard contact I saw. With the cameras as far away as they are, it’s hard to appreciate just how physical the women’s game is. An American got her head checked after taking what looked like a shoulder right in her temple and two different South African players required either a stretcher or multiple trainers / doctors.

Holy smokes!  Pay them already!

Dallas Cowboys 24 – Santa Clara Forty Niners 17

October 2nd, 2016 was an absolutely beautiful day in the Forty Niners’ new home city.  A few drops of rain came down, but this was a perfect opportunity to get a lot of sun.

Based on how many fans were wearing navy blue and silver, it felt more like a Cowboys home game.  The optimism shared between Dallas fans about their up-and-coming rookie phenom, Dak Prescott, was the opposite of the muted pessimism felt among the “Faithful.”

We kept our tailgate low-key and had it catered by a nearby Togo’s.  The bathroom there didn’t have a lock, so I dropped deuce faster than I ever have in my life.  I clocked it at a minute forty nine seconds and owe it all to the dried fruits and veggies I had on Saturday.

Before the game, our conversation kept veering towards the Ryder Cup because my parents are huge golf fans.  I thought they were discussing the sailing competition we have here in the San Francisco Bay Area, sponsored by Oracle.  Nope, turns out the British are still butthurt about the American Revolution so they decided to change golf to a team sport and challenge us.

As far as the game goes, it was close and entertaining.  The Niners jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter with two touchdowns.  Every time they got a first down, male Niners fans with a BAC above .08 acted like Spartans from 300 and did the “HAAA–OOOOOH, HAAA-OOOOOOH.”  It was just a coincidence they only got 300 yards in total offense.

Things turned around quickly in the second quarter after a “bullshit” roughing penalty that gave the Cowboys a clutch first down into Santa Clara territory.

The 49ers Defense demonstrates its lack of discipline.
The 49ers Defense demonstrates its lack of discipline.

By the third quarter, Dallas looked in control.  Cowboys fans began doing their own completely-out-of-sync Spartan impression for every first down.  A demoralized Niners fanbase initially found it humorous but became silently irritated.  They  had to stomach Blaine Gabbert go full mediocre, like a warm, stale beer, running some of the most unimaginative play-calling this nosebleed-seats reporter has ever seen.

I had to ask a Niners fan, “Do you call him Gabbert like Q-Bert or Gabbert like Steven Colbert from the Colbert Report?”

“Dunno, man.  I think it’s Gabbert like Bert and Ernie.  Frankly, I wish they’d call him “Released by the Niners.”

Up in Section 418, my father took it upon himself to announce to everyone that the United States had won the Ryder Cup.  Not many people cared, but no more than a minute later it was displayed on the Jumbotron.  Then, doing his patriotic duty, my dad started a rousing “USA USA USA” chant that gained some steam and lasted longer than most of Santa Clara’s offensive drives.

At this point, I figured out that this woman with a Dez Bryant jersey sitting in front of me was sitting in the center of what looked to be 10 – 15 friends spread out, almost in a circle from her, throughout our Section.  For whatever reason, they couldn’t get seats next to each other but made an attempt at the Guinness World Records for awkward, long-distance high fives.

The Cowboys would tie it up and eventually go up 21 – 17.

Before Dan Bailey put Dallas up a full seven points with a field goal, Blaine Gabbert found an open receiver downfield who seemed so transfixed by the goal post that he never saw the ball until it was over his head and in the arms of the lucky Dallas cornerback he blew past.

It was probably the best game I’ve ever seen in my life.  Or at least as special as the overtime victory by a Drew Bledsoe-led Dallas Cowboys at Candlestick less than a decade ago.

How’d that crap sandwich taste, Santa Clara?