Sunday, August 9, 2009

Not your average Saturday - Watching FC Barcelona

I have had a bunch of interesting Saturdays recently but this last one, I knew it was going to be interesting. It's been a while since I filed in a diary entry. What was special about this Saturday? FC Barcelona was in town to play Chivas, a Mexican team. This was going to follow an MLS game involving the San Jose Earthquakes and Columbus Crew. As it was the second Saturday of the month, all roads would end up at the End Up for Reggae Gold which I wasn't going to miss for nothing. True to form, it was a memorable day and though it doesn't make a juicy entry like "Eye candy, free candy, and candy I don't have". I have so much to say I have to do it in two entries.

I've been having a sore throat recently so I woke up Saturday not feeling too well. Too bad the Ovaltine I have is solid block and I don't have the patience to figure out how to make it presentable for consumption. The only food I owned was some dish of spaghetti, corned beef and a little shito with some sauce to spice it up. I also owned a 'Jack in the Box' burger from the day before. I spent about $50 on food this week, which is unbecoming. Sometime during the week, I realised that the microwave in my apartment had disappeared. My roommate owns it, so I'm pretty sure it wasn't stolen but I haven't bothered to ask him. Why? Dude doesn't like me too much because it took me about 5 days to learn and remember his Eastern European name and I don't hang out with him. He's like 40 and a post-doc/assistant professor. From the very first day, I knew this match was not good.

Anyway, back to the food, I took this refrigerated burger out on a journey, looking for a microwave. I went to my some of my Katarific friends' place to use theirs. Katafiric refers to Black American. They were surprised to see me. Of course, they asked me what happened to 'my microwave' and I told them nothing but the truth. Judging by their reactions, they couldn't handle. 5 minutes later, I had my first meal of the day together with the rest of the coke I didn't have yesterday. As in Coca-Cola, as seen on TV about 15 years ago.

I had purchased group tickets to see two games - Columbus Crew & San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) and then FC Barcelona (Spain) & Chivas (Mexico). Tix were discounted from $70 to $60, and that made me feel good. None of these teams feature a Ghanaian player. For all the Ghanaians in Columbus, no one could try out for the Crew and make the team? I know there are players there according to this hilarious Youtube video. Why? MLS no fun to play? No soccer to do it? The Earthquakes have been having tryouts and I don't know why I haven't gone yet. They can use me in defence (because I do the best), they suck brutal. I'd already seen them play the LA Galaxy live and they were atrocious. David Beckham was easily the best player on the field that day (Landon Donovan was absent). I was extremely excited to see Barca - Messi, Henry, Dani Alves, Xavi, Toure - play. Too bad, Eto'o was no more at the Nou Camp and his replacement Ibrahimovic was nursing a injury. Had seen him play at Stanford last month so that was cool.

I set out with my friends from Stanford at the beginning of the MLS game hoping to catch the second half. I was wearing my customized MAN U jersey with my name at the back. You know, great conversation starter abi? Traffic & parking problems did not permit this and by the time I had my tickets, the MLS game was done. By the way, I handed off two Ghanaian movies to friends in traffic, cool huh? No need to meet up anyway, just do it on the road. The Earthquakes lost 3-0. Finally entered the stadium and sat in the lower stands where I could get a better view for the Barca game. I didn't sit where I was supposed to sit, I had to wagadree my way for a better experience. I only had to dodge a couple of security guys, no problemo. I couldn't believe the stadium wasn't packed. This is FC Barcelona for goodness sake! They should fill up a soccer stadium in the US. There's no reason why this shouldn't happen. There aren't enough internationals in the Bay Area? I know the Mexican massive is here though. Chivas is a huge team in Mexico so they probably had more support than the Blaugrana. Rafa Marquez didn't play but Mexico's Jonathan dos Santos played for Barca.

The game was the best soccer game I'd seen in the US, the atmosphere was great. There were chants of Chivas-Barca-Chivas-Barca. I was sitting by two other MIT Africans who were both Barca supporters. Barcelona is the truth. It ended 1-1 though and their first team couldn't register a goal though they played the first half in Chivas' half. Barcelona played some delightful football, you must wonder how they do it. They are almost always never outplayed. Lionel Messi never seemed to lose the ball, it was pretty ridiculous. Thierry Henry played like he was 40, everytime he went to the ground, it took him a while to get back up. Salif Keita and Yahya Toure started the game and they both gave great accounts of themselves. Too bad Eto wasn't here. Actually, he was. Some fans outside the stadium seemed to shout his name everytime I walked on by. :-) I like Gerard Pique a lot, I feel like he plays like me. I love how he charges upfront hoping to make things happen.

Barca played the second half with a new-look team, maintaining Victor Valdes and Dani Alves. Dani Alves is the best right back in the world and has been for the last 3 years. The guy na baller! Barcelona seemed to run everything through him in the second half. Chivas drew first blood with a nicely worked goal, they played much much better in the second half. Barca equalized through Bojan Krkic on a cross from Dani Alves. Both teams came close to getting the winner but to no avail. So Barca were a David Beckham freekick away from winning 2-zip the LA Galaxy, they whitewashed the Seattle Sounders by 4 and couldn't beat the Mexican team. The MLS just isn't there yet, no matter what people like Alexi Lalas want to say. I mean, do you take what people who have 'Lalases' say seriously? For y'all who don't know, a Lalas in Ghanaian lingo is a beard like what Lalas had back in the day.

My MIT African friends had taken a bus to get to the stadium so it was nice to catch a bus out of the stadium due to the crazy traffic. I had no gentleman's bills to pay for the bus. I wasn't going to let the lady driver kick me off the bus, too much embarrassment in front of 50 Mexican mamacitas. Either way, I showed my street smarts and while she was navigating the commotion of people trying to get into the bus, your-slicker-than-average-MIghTy-African slicked through the crowd into the bus. Free bus ride! Super! At least something free for the day to file this entry under free stuff. Will get to the latter parts of the day in the next entry.
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