Tuesday, June 30, 2009

USA July 2009

"I gotta ask you a question - where do you come
from ? "
"Ingerland ... i knew it."
"Is it true they all dress up smart in Ingerland..."
"I wanna go to Ingerland..."

New York.

New York is hot and for once passport control is quick and painless.

New home win.

New York Yankees 8 Seattle Mariners 5

At the new Yankee stadium - opposite the old one but without the memories.
At least the old site will not become the usual car park but will revert to a park with sports facilities, hopefully with some of its original structure preserved.

We had an hour of rain delay before the start - time for a couple of drinks to get in the mood.

The ballgame was slow to get going but had a great finish with the Mariners equalising at 5-5 before the home side scored three in the bottom of the 8th to complete the win.

A late 11.30pm finish, the subway from Queens and some sleep before an early flight to LA the next morning.


Three days based in Carson, LA for a mix of baseball and football.

Bees stopped play or Houston we don't have a problem.

San Diego Padres 2 Houston Astros 7

It takes around 2 hours to drive south from LA to San Diego - past typically evocative place names like Long Beach, El Camino Real and Mission Viejo.
On the way I stop some surfers and ask where I can get a coffee - its somewhat different here than New York.

San Diego Petco Park is centrally situated and once inside you have a nice view of the downtown skyline.

For this afternoon game it was kids day. One way to ensure the many empty spaces were filled and also - tickets at half price ($7.50)
The (presumably larger than normal) all-you-can-eat seats were not full either.

Yet another delay - this time of about 50 minutes. Amazingly caused by a swarm of bees gathering around a jacket left on a chair near left field.
A pest control guy was called and eventually he administered the appropriate spray.
Frustratingly this happened in the 9th innings, not that it made any difference to the progressive Astros who had been well in control throughout.

The later finish meant enduring the rush hour traffic up highway 5 back thru Orange county to LA.


The Gold Cup is a biennial event involving 12 teams qualifying from the North American, Central American and Caribbean regions. It is usually won by Mexico or the USA (Canada being the only other champion)
It began at the Home Depot stadium in Carson.

One Ali.

Canada 1 Jamaica 0

the first of the double headers.

A single goal by ex-MK Dons striker Ali Gerba was enough to beat the Reggae Boys.

Both sides created chances and generally Jamaica edged the possession but the single goal clinched it. Canada produced a competent defensive performance.

El of an atmosphere.

El Salvador 2 Costa Rica 1

Home Depot livened up considerably for the second part of the double header as thousands of blue shirted El Salvador fans filled most of the stadium , generating plenty of noise using their own version of the vuvuzela (see South Africa blog)
Their team did them proud.

El Salvador closed down the favoured Ticos scoring first through Romero, getting pegged back in the second half, but then capitalising on a defensive error for a great win.

Definitely not a typical Home Depot atmosphere.

Pre-Beckham win.

Chivas USA 0 LA Galaxy 1

This MLS 'Superclasico' bore little resemblance to any in South America. Nor did it compare to being with the El Salvador fans the previous weekend.

But it was a better than normal MLS atmosphere with the Chivas 'ultras' at both ends of the stadium and a contingent supporting LA G in the right hand corner.
Inevitably we had the 'best dressed man feature' , many late arrivals and a soccer-mom singing the National Anthem.

Apparently the man himself watched from the stands as the Galaxy secured their win via a Edson Buddle header after about half an hour. Generally Chivas struggled to create chances although Atiba Harris (St Kitts) looked useful.
23,409 attended - not a sell-out.

Toto, I've a feeling we are in Kansas.

But is it Kansas City , Kansas or Kansas City, Missouri ?

Confusing it may be but there is definitely much less traffic than in LA amongst the wide open spaces of each Kansas City.

Kamara strikes the pose.

Kansas City Wizards 0 Houston Dynamo 1

In the Community America ballpark - a minor league stadium with awkwardly placed stands.

We had fireworks , it being 4th July , Harleys, US flags, military personnel and obviously the star spangled banner. It was back to a typical family orientated MLS event complete with an all-you-can-eat-section.

Many of the mums would probably have related to Kei Kamara putting on a white glove and striking a Michael Jackson pose after heading in the winner.
Some orange shirted fans from Texas ('Texian Army') had made the trip to see the high flying Dynamos win a decent game with both sides creating good chances.

Still in Kansas City (one of them) and back to the baseball.

Impressive scoreboard.

Kansas City Royals 6 Chicago White Sox 3

To the Kauffman stadium - 36 years old but the sixth oldest stadium in major league baseball.
It has a very impressive scoreboard, fountains and a waterfall.

Just a smallish turnout over the holiday weekend to see the generally underperforming Royals finish this series of games with a win. There were two home runs - one for each team.

Very pleasant weather and this time no interruptions for rain (or bees)


Lets go Cubbies.

Chicago Cubs 4 Atlanta Braves 2

I walked down Clark to Wrigleyville.

For surely one of the best atmospheres and suroundings in baseball.

An historic venue. The adjacent streets with the roof-top views and the ivy clad walls.

A full house to see the Cubs win.

They bring out the 'W' flags to signify the result and all stay behind to sing the song - Hey Chicago whaddya say , the Cubs are gonna win today....


The flight to Columbus was not full.

Small crew.

Jamaica 0 Costa Rica 1

Not too many in the 'soccer-specific' Crew stadium (with a concert stage at one end) for these games. Those that watched saw Costa Rica get the win over an unlucky Jamaica who had a man dismissed.

Canada 1 El Salvador 0

Canada defended well as El Salvador couldn't create much. Again it was Ali Gerba who got the winner - a chip over the goalie. The El Salvador fans turned out in reasonable numbers amongst the 7,000 crowd.


I stayed near the awesome Texas Medical Centre - the largest such centre in the world.

The area is thronged with medical staff (and patients)

Nearby downtown is mainly, well, downtown with many of the shops being underground and air-conditioned against the hot conditions up top.

Meanwhile in Reliant Park the Astrodome waits - aloof and still apparently preserved.

Next to it is the impressive , air conditioned (it was 37 degrees outside) Reliant Arena where we see the next Gold Cup games. The record crowd was set when one Miley Cyrus gave a concert (see later)

Guadeloupe are good.

Guadeloupe 2 Nicaragua 0

Guadeloupe passed well and looked like a competent side, not too surprising as they have various players in the French league.
Nicaragua were moderate and didn't do much better when Guadelopue had man sent off.

Captain Auvray and Ludovic Gotin got the goals.


Mexico 1 Panama 1

Some 47,000 tickets were sold for this second game.

And to continue a theme we had a prolonged delay, not for rain (we were indoors) or bees, but when Ricardo Phillips of Panama refused to leave the field after being sent off. His route to the dressing room being bombarded by unhappy Mexican fans.
Phillips was the third man to be dismissed in a game where the two sides didn't get on too well.

Mexico had scored first from a Dos Santos (of Spurs) pass.
But Panama fought back with striker Perez (of Pachuca) getting the equaliser.

It was a disappointing performance by the Mexicans.

Incidentally Phillips had been sent off for pushing the Mexican coach (Aguirre - who was also dismissed) when retreiving a ball from the touchline.


Meanwhile in Miami (via Fort Lauderdale for this visitor) a smallish university stadium hosted the final group games for Costa Rica and co.

No vice.

Costa Rica 2 Canada 2

Goals though.
The Ticos brought plenty of fans to see their team draw with an understrength , already qualified, Canadian side.
They saw four first half goals including a classy free kick from captain Walter Centeno.

No goal, no cry.

El Salvador 0 Jamaica 1

El Salvador had the fans but their team underperformed, succumbing to a late winner by Omar Cummings of the Reggae Boys.
It meant that Jamaica would squeeze through to the semi-finals despite being very wayward up front.
17,000 eventually made it to this stadium in steamy conditions.


finally to the desert and the cactii - Phoenix, Arizona - renowned for its heat and it didn't disappoint - at a scorching 43 (or 110) degrees.

As in Houston the games were (thankfully) played in an indoor air-conditioned arena , the 60,000 University of Phoenix stadium, home to the Phoenix Cardinals NFL team.
From a distance it looked like a large spaceship had landed in the desert.

Beginning with a sparse crowd the attendance built up to over 23,000 as the Mexicans came in.

Like many stadiums in the US it isn't that easy to get to unless you have a car - a factor that must affect the crowds at these kind of events.

Panama stroll.

Panama 4 Nicaragua 0

Easy for the Panamanians after they got the first goal.
Nicaragua had a man sent off and never threatened. The strength of the taller Panama team told as they converted the crosses against the smaller Nicaraguans.

More dismissals.

Mexico 2 Guadeloupe 0

Guadeloupe decided on a cautious approach against a determined Mexico side with something to prove. Both had already qualified for the next phase but Mexico needed to build some momentum both for the Gold Cup and, more importantly, the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Again the team playing Mexico had two men sent off.
Obviously it didn't help any possible Guadeloupe comeback after Mexico had taken the lead.
They had been one of the more watchable and capable teams but this night wasn't one of their best.


In the USA you tend to see the future - so look out for 'Fatburger' and 'Potbelly' restaurants and all-you-can-eat sections in stadiums.

Perhaps we'll be speaking even louder on our mobiles (cellphones) like the lady on the train in Houston -

"I'd like to get my kitten neutered"
"ok - I've got that date - can I ask a question"
"the cat is very wild - do you know how old it is "
" 4 weeks - and its ...feral..."
"what if I can't get the cat under control..... euthanasia..."
"I don't want that"
She ends the conversation and speaks to one of her children.
"can you look up 'feral' on the Internet please and call me back, oh and find out how long it takes to break in the cat"
(just before my train stop)
"it means its wild - why did they let us have a wild kitten ? and it might take over a month to control it .....i want to keep the cat ...." (phew)

And in Hooters...

"I gotta ask you a question" "where do you come from" "I knew it ...Ingerland"
"I love Ingerland.... I'm 21 and I wanna go to Ingerland"

"Is it true they all dress up smart in Ingerland ?"

And so the tip was (slightly) higher.

more pics at http://www.photobox.co.uk/album/144026400

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