It was 6:31pm last Saturday night when I received a phone call from a buddy of mine asking if I had any interest in going to the RSL game against the Chivas. I instantly turned to my son and asked him if he wanted to go to his first soccer game. My two-year old son answered, “Soccer. Kick!” I took that as a yes, and my wife, son, and I quickly got ready to get to the stadium, since kick off was at 7pm.
Luckily, we only live about 10 minutes away and my knowledge of the area allowed for to avoid traffic and get to Sandy City Hall in now time to catch the free shuttle service to the game. Free parking and free shuttle service is a win-win in my mind. The shuttle had us to the stadium in no time and we were on our way to our seats in the 3rd minute of play.
Now, if you were going to a Utah Jazz game and were trying to get to your seats it might take some effort to watch the game and go to your seats. Such is not the case when you are at Rio Tinto Stadium. At the RioT you can watch the game from most places in the stadium and if you don’t want to leave your seat for the concession line, just text in your order and the food will come to you. (I can’t guarantee they still do this.) So, as we watched the game, we wandered to our seats.
When we finally got to our seats in the north end of the stadium I realized how loud it was. I could see all the season ticket holders around us with their custom scarfs and they were rocking the place. The atmosphere was amazing. I couldn’t believe in the 5th minute of play the fans were already into it and making it loud. I am sure there were plenty of fans that left with hoarse throats.
However, for us there is one negative to the awesome fans, my timid 2-year-old didn’t know what to think and was a little scared. This is where the Pride (the Pride is the nickname for RSL season ticket holders) won even more points with me. Not only were they loud, they also brought their children to the game. They brought children that thought it was fun to play with and entertain my son. Babysitter, check! Now, I could enjoy the match.
Well, I could only enjoy it to a certain point. In my biased, untrained opinion, the referee was dreadful. It was one of the choppiest soccer games I have ever watched and I have been watching soccer since 1994. Soccer is supposed to be a constant, flowing match. This one was not. Thank goodness for the acquired babysitter otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to let the ref know how I really felt. Unfortunately, the ref didn’t take heed to what I had to say and RSL ended up losing the game. I did even offer the ref money for a penalty kick, but apparently US Soccer pays these refs enough to where my 5 bucks couldn’t sway him.
Now, you remember how smooth and awesome our trip to the match was? Well, such was not the case on the way back. We left pretty quick once the final whistle blew and got in line for the shuttle, but they clearly didn’t have many shuttles running because we waited about 45 – 50 minutes to be taken back to Sandy City Hall. This was hands down the biggest disappointment of the night. Do you know what it’s like to try to console a very tired two-year old while you are waiting in line? Eventually, we did make it back to our car and get our toddler to bed.
Overall, the Real Salt Lake game experience was awesome. I would only recommend a tweaking of the shuttle system. However, the babysitter did allow my son to learn two things about soccer.
1. When our team kicks the ball, we cheer. He told me this after the game, ” Daddy, soccer! Kick! Yay!”
2. The next day my son was kicking his soccer ball around our living room when he kicked it, looked up, and said, “Owie!” He then proceeded to get a hug from his mom. So, watch out Landon Donavan and David Beckham, my son is already practicing soccer. Not just the kicking, but the acting too.