After the rush to get to Germany, get our lost luggage, get our big rig, get to Leverkusen, get to the Mexico-Japan game, and get BACK down south to Heidelberg to find a spot to park...we were FINALLY able to wake up rested at a leisurely hour and get ready for the U.S.-Columbia match in nearby Sinsheim at Rhein-Neckar Stadium.
The game kicked off at 6pm and we were in Sinsheim at 1pm ready to suss things out (re: PARKING the McRent). This stadium had a nice big parking lot, so our minds were at ease. We grabbed a little lunch and headed to an area where the Sinsheim Auto-Technik museum is and happened to run into the U.S. Soccer Family and Friends bus. This got us even more pumped up for the match as we wandered around the plaza meeting and chatting with other soccer fans from all over the world.
The most interesting group we met was the Women's (girls really) National Team from Jordan. They were traveling around Germany, playing games and watching World Cup matches...as they one day hope to qualify for their first ever World Cup. They are just getting started and it is just now acceptable for the Jordanian woman to play sports. They were a super young team, average age 16 (the goalkeeper is 36, so that puts their youth in perspective. Zach had brought the adidas "Speed Cell" match ball from the car that I caved and purchased at the Mexico/Japan game. He began to juggle with Nick and Ben and soon the Jordanian girls, one by one, started to join in. It was super cool for Amy and I to witness with our own kids what we have seen so many times in our lives as "soccer travelers": that soccer truly is the international language and unifier.
The free-style juggling festivities took us up to about 3pm when we could go and park McRent back at the stadium and begin our mini-tailgate..."NO GRILLING" here. So we got out the chairs, tables, U.S. Flags and some beverages and snacks and began chatting with others in the lot. So awe inspiring how many people of all nationalities and ages come to the World Cup.
We ran into Hope's boyfriend, Jesse Bignami, in his #1 purple U.S. Goalkeeper jersey; we also saw Alex Morgan's (#13) dad, Mike, with a sign for his youngest of 3 daughters who was turning 22 on this day! The sign: MORE AMOR! Very cute.
Zach and I spent some time painting Nick and Ben's faces...both turned out great if I do say so myself!
Finally, it was time to head into the stadium! Thanks to Hope we are able to get in on the family and friends ticket allotment, so we were seated amongst the players families and friends which made for a very spirited experience!
As we knew would happen..Amy cried when the National Anthem was played and we all got goosebumps when we first saw Hope! We, of course, are biased, but she truly is an amazing athlete, personality, goalkeeper and American sportshero. We are so proud of her and can't wait to see what the rest of this World Cup brings for her and her U.S. teammates.
Columbia was no real match for the U.S., but regardless, the best of the best couldn't have stopped the laser that Heather O'Reilly hit the first half! So fun to be sitting right in front of her family when it happened!
We saw a few other old friends and teammates, most notable our good friend and Brown University alum, Teresa Abrahamsohn,
who was traveling around Europe with her former coach and Brown's team.
The game ended 3-0, Hope hopped into the stands to give an autograph to a girl and then had a HUGE smile when she looked up at us and blew us all kisses.
Suddenly this game and this day made the "initial hassles and headaches" of the trip totally worth it. After the game we headed to the U.S. team hotel, where Mexico is also staying because their next game v. New Zealand is in Sinsheim. So we got to tour V and Hope around the R.V., chat with them both for a bit and let them know how proud we are to be here watching them play on the world's biggest stage!
We are now getting into "the groove" and super pumped about the rest of the tournament and the rest of our adventures in Germany. We'll hang in Heidelberg for a few more days, watch Mexico play, and hopefully beat New Zealand....and sorry Jimbo, but hope for an England loss to Japan so V can advance.
Photo of Husky Goalkeepers Hope Solo, Leslie Weeks and Zach Gallimore :) in 1999
Stay tuned.....more good stuff to come! Thanks for reading and following the 3G Network.