Four games in the USA including three at the Copa America Centenario and a visit to LA Galaxy.
I flew into LAX (famous to all those Frank Zappa fans.. ‘The white zone is for unloading and loading, do not enter’....) where the fashion becomes less London and more Dexys Midnight Runners, for example.
The tattoos increase and the haircuts are more eccentric.
Then on to a hotel in Carson.
Which is not too far from Long Beach where I spent part of the day visiting the Queen Mary.
On the free bus some of my fellow passengers spent time discussing how to end all wars.
Amazingly they failed to resolve the problem.
Meanwhile inside the Queen Mary you see miles of dark wood framed corridors, the inevitable Starbucks, suites dedicated to various luminaries and … a tattoo artists’ event.
I passed on a tattoo and took the history tour.
2nd June LA Galaxy 0 Sporting Kansas City 0 MLS 19,651
Meanwhile back in Carson the weather was less LA more London with a kind of mist cooling things down at the Stubhub Center.
LA lacked Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane and those absences seem to make a difference as they failed to get much on target.
That was despite Nigel de Jong, playing quarterback, distributing the passes, but ultimately to no effect.
As the match progressed it was Kansas who looked more likely to break the deadlock with Dominic Dwyer having one of their best chances.
The away team also threatened from corners before we entered the closing stages when
England full back Ashley Cole proceeded to launch some long balls up to tall sub. Alan Gordon.
But all that came to naught and it finished goalless.
Leaving Galaxy still within the playoff positions and Sporting in 8th.
The next day I took a flight from LAX to SFO for the start of the Copa America Centenario.
3rd June USA 0 Colombia 2 Copa America Centenario Santa Clara 67,439
A vast assemblage of software developers met at Levi’s stadium for the opening of the centenary Copa America.
Most wore yellow shirts in support of Colombia and they far outnumbered the US fans.
On a very hot evening in Silicon Valley Jurgen Klinsmann’s team came up short against a competent Colombian side.
Within 8 minutes the South Americans were ahead when a Cardona corner was met by Zapata who drove in the opener.
The clincher came close to half time when James Rodriguez decisively converted a penalty given for handball.
It had been a frustrating half for the home team who had reasonable possession and a number of free kicks but no end result.
Into the second period and Clint Dempsey would go closest, having a header cleared off the line.
And at times Gyasi Zardes had shown glimpses of talent.
However Carlos Bacca might have extended the Colombian lead later in the half.
He combined well with Cuadrado as the men in yellow consistently proved better on the ball.
So a poor start for US and a solid opening for Colombia who would harbour hopes of going far in the tournament.
I took the light rail back to Mountain View and on to my hotel, stopping at the liquor store for some wine as a nightcap.
4th June Brazil 0 Ecuador 0 Copa America Centenario Pasadena 53,158
Via the Caltrain and the BART to SFO then on to LAX.
Where I picked up a Supershuttle for the 50 minute ride, past downtown to Pasadena.
After settling in I made my way to Memorial Station and then on to the shuttle that connects to the Rose Bowl.
Which remains an iconic stadium with the mountain backdrop, vast, curving. open seating and those unusual entrance tunnels.
Health & Safety would probably not allow such tunnels to be designed now but they are one of the signature elements of this famous ground.
All this brought back memories of my last visit when Roberto Baggio put his penalty over the bar and Dunga’s Brazil lifted the 1994 World Cup.
The result this time was also a draw but there was, of course, no penalty drama.
However Dunga was back and his Brazil side did edge this encounter on ‘points’.
Certainly he would have admired the holding midfield talent of Casemiro.
And the skills of Willian and, at times, Coutinho.
But the well supported Ecuador, at least I think they were well supported as it was hard to tell which fans were which with both wearing yellow shirts, also offered plenty going forward.
Especially down the left where Swansea’s Jefferson Montero often troubled Dani Alves.
Ecuador offered a robust attack with Bolanos also a danger.
And they did get the ball in the net when Alisson fumbled a cross, however history was not made as the ‘goal’ was ruled out by the officials.
Having never beaten Brazil in the Copa America it could have been a very significant moment for Ecuador.
As the match wore on, with the fans indulging in a number of ‘waves’, possibly the best chance came to sub. Lucas Moura who had a great headed chance that he diverted wide.
So no goals and I guess many Brazil fans would be regretting the absence of Neymar, sitting in the stand with Justin Bieber, who might well have made a difference.
Back via the shuttle and a craft beer to finish.
5th June LA Dodgers 12 Atlanta Braves 6 MLB 47,950
I switched hotels, taking the metro via downtown, then near Compton, on to Mariposa.
All that takes a while - this is not like the subway in New York or anywhere in Europe.
No wonder most people have a car.
Anyway I made it back to Union Station for the shuttle and a return visit to the Dodgers.
Although I missed the top of the first (when the Braves scored twice) I saw a run of scores by the Dodgers.
Hernandez, Grandal and Seager all slugged homers to give the home team a 12-3 lead.
Short Stop Corey Seager is reckoned to be an upcoming star and he certainly played his part in this comfortable victory.
And though the Braves go it back to 12-6 they were never likely to get close to parity.
So the Dodgers, before a large Sunday afternoon crowd in the sunshine, stay second in the NL West while the Braves are gone in the East.
Back in Mariposa I had some fish & chips (in the hotel) washed down with some vino tinto.
The next morning I was back on American for the flight to SFO.
6th June Argentina 2 Chile 1 Copa America Centenario Santa Clara 69,451
Less yellow and a lot more hockey shirts on the way to Santa Clara.
But still plenty of software developers, though some on the Caltrain, with their bikes, seemed unaware there was a game on.
Inside Levi’s Stadium there looked like more Chile fans in red than the light blue of Argentina.
All came expecting to see Lionel Messi but they would go home disappointed as the superstar stayed on the bench.
Not that it mattered as regards the outcome as the tournament favourites, and highest ranked country in the world, settled the match with two quick goals early in the second period.
Each time it was a combination between Ever Banega and the excellent Angel Di Maria.
First Banega dispossessed a Chile player and set up the PSG wide man whose shot went through Bravo.
Soon after Di Maria returned the favour and Banega beat the goalie via a slight deflection.
Earlier we had seen plenty of positive action with Sanchez very lively for Chile (he would benefit from an error to test Romero) in a pacy first half.
Inevitably midfielder Arturo Vidal would get booked,, within 20 minutes.
Chile remained combative but as the match wore on Argentina consolidated and never looked like being pegged back.
A very late consolation did come via a Romero error, misjudging a free kick , that allowed sub. Fuenzalida to head in.
2-1 was probably about right.
It means the favourites are on track and though a setback for Chile they should still qualify for the latter stages and it is possible the two could meet again in the final.