I'm going to guess that most of my friends don't know the following about major league soccer-
Games are actually called matches.
Matches are only 90 minutes. And unlike football or baseball, where 2 minutes of game time can literally stretch out over 40 minutes, the soccer clock never stops. The game is in constant motion. The exception to this rule is when someone gets injured on the field. If the game stops or slows for an injury, time is tacked on to the end of the half to make up for it.
Halves are 45 minutes with a 15 minute half-time.
Tonight the Little and I went to the rare mid-week, school night game to see our beloved Real Salt Lake take on the LA Galaxy. Let's quickly learn to say "Real" the proper way. "Ray-al." Not "reel." Some people also pronounced it "Ree-al." I don't have a preference either way. Just don't call it "reel salt lake." That's just dumb.
If you are a pop culture fan you may know that the LA Galaxy is David Beckham's team. He didn't play tonight. I believe he's still on loan to Italy. If you are a real soccer fan you may be groaning at my lack of interest in Beckham's whereabouts. He doesn't play for RSL, so I don't really care.
Tonight's game rocked, even if we didn't win. We were ahead, and came really close to winning. But anyone who was there will tell you the last 2 minutes of the game (after the clock had stopped at 90 minutes, as we went into injury make up time), were 2 of the most exciting minutes you could ever ask for in soccer. We tied, and that's better than losing, right?
On top of that, RSL was playing with some key players missing.Our amazing goalie Nick Rimando was out with a lacerated finger. Jamison Olave was out on a player suspension (which was truly just dumb). Javier Morales was missing from action. And our favorite player (and by our, I mean me and Little) Ian Joy is still out on the injured list. So that's 4 first string players (out of 8) that were missing tonight. So I'd say that staying ahead most of the game, and only tying it up in the last few seconds was actually really remarkable!
Here's the picture story of our night.
Little looking more grown up every day.
And here's me posing as well.
We had great seats in our second favorite section, in row 10. We still prefer to sit in section 13, row 13, seat 13 (for Ian Joy #13), but this isn't a bad second choice. We were close enough to see the player's faces and see them yell at the refs. We like that.
Here's one of the obligatory goofy shots. I would attempt to take a self-portrait, and Little would pop her head in at the last second.
One of my favorite parts about the games is the opening ceremonies and the National Anthem. The two teams come out holding hands with little soccer players. For reasons I can't explain, this chokes me up, and I think it is adorable every time. One of my biggest goals in life right now is to find out how to get Little to be one of those kids. She supports me in this goal I might add, as one of her biggest goals is to get the autographs of Kyle Beckerman and Ian Joy.
Let the game begin! (These really are great seats, just above the goal, so our vision isn't obscured!)
One of the unapproved, but strongly held traditions in soccer is to throw stuff on to the field. Particularly to throw streamers at the goals. We've seen games where the players ended up running down the field with yards of streamers around their ankles. But usually the streamers are just thrown to distract the goalies. This picture was taken very early on in the game, and barely does the streamer throwing justice.
And then there was some soccer playing going on! I have a crappy camera, and for that I apologize. But you should be able to see that the guy in the bluish jersey in the goal box has dived on top of the ball to block it. He's the other team's goalie, so that actually sucked.
The game continued on with a fabulous header by Robbie Russell. Poor guy jumped up to get the header, just as a Galaxy player jumped and did the same. But the Galaxy player mistook Russell's chrome dome for the ball and headbutted him instead. I swear you could hear the heads cracking all the way up in our seats. I have never felt so bad for a player writhing around on the field like that before.
I am now going to do something I have never done before on this blog. I'm going to bad mouth the refs for this game. I'm normally not the kind of fan who yells at a ref. I figure they are just human too. But wow, I have never before seen such biased and bad ref-ing as I did tonight. Galaxy players could grab RSL players by the collar and throw them to the ground, and no one would get penalized. But an RSL player could barely breathe in the direction of a Galaxy player and suddenly the ball has to change hands. I will hold myself back from calling the ref the Blind Hobbit From Hell, and instead just say, wow, it is hard to believe those guys were professionals tonight.
So the game goes on, and the game was great. Lots of cheering, singing, etc. My sister always wants to know if they sing "Ole! Ole, ole, ole!" at RSL games. The answer is yes, tonight they did. But in SLC we sing it, "Ole!, Ole, Ole, Ole, Ray-al, Salt Lake!" And that's always fun.
The second half just flew by. No goals, nothing. And then, suddenly in the 90th minute, some seriously bad refereeing took place, and they called a hand ball on RSL, which means the Galaxy could take a dead on shot on goal. They scored. Crap.
Not to be defeated like that, RSL grabbed the ball and took it down field. It was total bedlam in the stadium. I love it like that. Streamers were flying everywhere! And then, suddenly, there was a Galaxy hand ball! Woot! Penalty kick on goal!!
Here's the cutie #8 Johnson kicking on goal!
There was much rejoicing! Please note the streamers!
Thinking there was only a few seconds left, and we were ahead 2-1, Little rejoiced as well.
But then, disaster! The unthinkable happened, and the Galaxy scored again! Bummer.
So we tied 2-2 in the last few seconds of the game. Oh well. Like I said, considering we were playing on a second string, with the third string goalie, I'd say that is impressive.
Next we hung out and got some autographs!
And again, there was much rejoicing!
All in all, we love soccer. And we really love our Real Salt Lake!