Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘soccer

Still Thrilled

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Is it too late to still be thrilling over the US Women’s National Team victory on Sunday in France? I am really proud of their teamwork and stamina; their confidence and sense of fun; their bravery and demand for respect (equal pay!); and the way they melded their individual strengths and personalities into such an effective cohesive unit, to dominate on the world’s largest stage.

There is so much well-deserved press available on their accomplishment, I can’t really add anything that isn’t already being said. Instead, I’ve grabbed a couple images and article links to share here for those of you who may not have followed close enough to notice…

Check these out:

Opinion: The World Cup might be over, but we aren’t nearly done with USWNT’s stars

Christine Brennan, USA TODAY

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Rose Lavelle Dribbled Her Way Into World Cup Immortality

Luis Paez-Pumar, Deadspin.

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I dream of someday being able to display a similar cool, collected confidence like Megan Rapinoe radiated in the seconds before she converted that penalty shot in the 61st minute of the World Cup title match.

I will always remember the awe I felt when Rose Lavelle deftly read the instant the defender in front of her turned her back, immediately stepping to the other side and without hesitation, releasing that powerful strike on goal just out of reach of the incredible goalkeeper for the Netherlands to give us the breathing room of a two-goal lead.

U.S.A.! U.S.A.! Equal pay! Equal pay!

I’m definitely still thrilled.

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Written by johnwhays

July 9, 2019 at 6:00 am

Soccer Again

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Yesterday, Elysa and I got to see the US Women’s soccer team in a friendly match against Switzerland at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

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Once again, we took the light rail train from her neighborhood to the stadium. My vague plan worked out perfectly and we entered the correct gate of the facility to put us directly at our section. For this game, I selected seating on the opposite side of the field from where we sat for the International Champions Cup match back in August.

These seats were also located a lot closer to the field. It was great to be able to hear the chatter from the players as they directed each other during play.

Unfortunately, whatever was used in attempt to mask the NFL markings on the field made for a rather ugly backdrop, but once the action started, I didn’t have a problem ignoring that.

I have very limited knowledge about our national team, and absolutely none about the Swiss, but quickly discovered Switzerland is pretty good. They played smart and executed very well, jumping out to a 1-0 lead and dominating play while putting us on our heels.dscn5354e

The US was able to tie it up after a smashing goal by none other than Carli Loyd before the half was over.

I don’t know what happened at halftime, but the second half performance by the US side was completely different. We dominated play and scored a variety of nice goals, winning the game by a pretty dominating score of 5-1.

It wasn’t until I got home after the game that I read that these two teams had already met in a match held earlier in the week. The US won that one as well, 4-0, so maybe the home team was just playing a little too overconfident during the first half of this game.

Maybe the best thing about the match for me was that it kept me from being able to witness the sad performance by the NFL Vikings in their first loss of the season. Those are just the kinds of games that make me want to stop watching the home team altogether.

A bad game in any team sport is so much easier to watch when it is not my home team that’s stinkin’ up the place.

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Written by johnwhays

October 24, 2016 at 6:00 am

Stadium Inauguration

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That was fun!

We had a blast last night at the opening event in the new U.S. Bank Stadium, an International Champions Cup match between A.C. Milan and Chelsea F. C.

It was exciting to be at a soccer match between two powerhouse professional teams. It was exciting to be inside the brand new home stadium of the Minnesota Vikings. It was made more electric by being among 64,101 other equally giddy spectators.

IMG_iP1501eJHI’m sure it was also enhanced for me because I was with my peeps. I was with my family, and we were among a number of other special friends, whom we discovered by surprise. It even turned out that one of the match referees was a neighbor who grew up with our kids back in Eden Prairie.

We figured out a logistical improvement on the way to pick up Elysa, deciding to leave our car at her house and take the light rail train to the stadium. Julian would walk to meet us from his downtown apartment. This kept our parked car on the east side of the cities for what we hoped would be an easier departure away from the main congestion.

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The light rail trip over was a breeze. We met and visited with a nice guy who made it even more pleasant. The evening was hot and muggy, but both the train and the stadium offered air conditioning, so it was surprisingly comfortable. Disembarking the train put us smack into our first of multiple moments of crowd-herding.

Quite a few stadium staff had the ignoble responsibility of standing with tall signs commanding the direction they wanted the crowd to travel. Of course, many of us often had designs on getting somewhere other than where they wanted us.

The first up-close view of the building is impressive. Using phones to share our locations, Cyndie and Julian worked to bring him and the three of us together, but with a bit of lag time complicating the data, we found ourselves circling until we stopped  at a specific gate and he came to us.

DSCN4995eIn the mean time, we had walked against instructions, around barriers, and away from the crowds until we were all alone on what must be the back side of the venue.

The mood was very festive inside. We were plenty early, but already there were long lines forming for craft beers and some of the specialty food items. We opted for regular old stadium brats, pizza, cheese curds and fries, because the line was shorter.

That doesn’t mean the wait was shorter, though. They were barely able to make and serve the food fast enough to meet demand. As the evening wore on, I heard reports that some offerings had run out. I suppose that can happen when you sell out a venue of this magnitude on its opening event.

We ran into one complication while trying to locate our seats. There were no indications of our section. An usher informed me we were up a level and directed us to an escalator. I asked again at the top and was pointed in another direction. With still no signage indication sections, we came to what appeared to be a dead end with an entrance to a club.

I asked where I would find section C10 and an agent informed me that she didn’t know but was working on it. We paused our advance, armed with drinks and food, but no free hands to eat it. Back and forth the harried staff with ear pieces moved, trying to serve their guests. Finally, they figured out our seats, and sections starting with “C” were indeed inside that “club.”

Brilliant.

I suppose it might have helped if I had known what tickets we had purchased.

The game was excellently satisfying, with a variety of soccer action and goals. The main event passed by too fast and suddenly it was time to go home. With no clue on an escape plan, we followed the crowd to the first obvious exit door. That offered a second option down, so we took it. That choice merged with an equal sized mass of people coming up from beneath, quickly doubling the size of the mass.

The exit we were all funneling toward turned out to be a single-wide door into the main concourse. Bad option.

Next came the wait for a train. We went with the flow, mostly. Missing one important gate, we found ourselves on the wrong side from where we wanted to be and needed to walk back against the flow to get into the queue for trains going east. It took several trains and many minutes of waiting.

Julian texted us to report he was safe and sound after his walk home, while we were still in wait to reach the platform. Eventually, we got our turn and squeezed our way onto an already pretty full train.

Made it home well past our normal bedtime, after midnight, but happy as could be.

It’s a great stadium, it was a great soccer match, and it was a blast experiencing it with my wife and kids.

Now it is raining here, and I’m feeling like I could use a nap…

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Written by johnwhays

August 4, 2016 at 9:46 am

It’s Tonight!

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I’ve been waiting a long time for this…

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Back in March, I let my family know that this event was on my birthday wish list. They arranged tickets for the 4 of us, and so now we will be checking out the new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis tonight, before the NFL team even has a chance to play a game in it.

This will also be my first time attending an international football match between top level professional clubs. Double bonus!

Our early plan is to park near Julian’s apartment and walk the city streets to the stadium. We decided to test out the food vendors for our dinner as a way to better immerse ourselves in all that the new venue will have to offer.

There is every possibility that this could be the only time I will be in the stadium. NFL ticket prices long ago surpassed my level of worth for the product offered.

I plan to provide a full report tomorrow on the details of our adventure, although it may be published a little later than usual, as I am expecting to be out well past my usual bed time tonight. Hopefully, Delilah won’t mind if we get home long after it has grown dark to bring her in from her back yard kennel.

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Written by johnwhays

August 3, 2016 at 6:00 am

Fun Friday

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IMG_iP1064eIn the morning on Friday, Pequenita was stretched out at the end of the bed while Cyndie and I were studiously working on our laptops. I know I was working because I can see by the screen that I was in my work email account.

I had stepped away for some reason, and when I returned, I got this view of our cat, stretched long at the spot just beyond where my feet had been, with her front paws tucked beneath her.

How cat-like endearingly appealing that looks.

We had plans for the day that involved creating some fun food to bring to a gathering of a group of futsallers with whom I had played for many years, before my degenerating disks forced my retirement from the game.

IMG_iP1066eI suppose that may have helped to inspire the coincidence of our spontaneously deciding to pull out the giant soccer ball for the horses to play with in the relative warm sunshine of the afternoon.

I recorded a short video so I could provide proof to my old friends that there is soccer still in my life on the ranch. Well, sort of.

The hours after the horse-play were filled with experimenting in the kitchen, where I helped with some taste testing and cutting & wrapping home-made caramels that Cyndie cooked up late Thursday night.

Then it was off through Friday afternoon rush-hour traffic to get to the party where we enjoyed hours of wonderful food and fellowship. I relished the opportunity to catch up with friends and hear stories about the ongoing morning games and the growing participation.

IMG_iP2910eCHIt was nice to meet a couple of the newer players and particularly precious to reconnect with my old favorites. The food was exceptional, to the point we packed a doggy bag of leftover foods that captured our fancy, when retrieving our dishes as our target departure hour arrived… and passed.

Brief moments after I had made the rounds, saying goodbye, a group photo was requested. While we were posing for that, Cyndie’s brother and his wife arrived, prolonging our visit for, I think, two more rotations of saying, “Good night. We have to leave!”

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Written by johnwhays

December 5, 2015 at 10:45 am

Wild Game

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What a day that was. I initially chose the title of this post as a reference to Delilah’s diet yesterday, but the US Women’s soccer team decided to play the final match of the 2015 World Cup tournament in such a way as to steal the meaning. What an outburst of effort they put forth in that first half last night! Carli Lloyd getting a hat trick as quick as she did was astounding to witness.

They played the final two games of the tournament as if they were the best team in the world. I’m happy they were able to lift the cup at the end. They earned it.

Earlier in the day, our dog took it upon herself to hunt for her own breakfast. Her usual fare from us is a mixture of dry food and some meat from a can, twice a day, but yesterday she seemed particularly determined to get her protein from live-catches.

With Cyndie gone to the lake, I was on my own to try to keep track of Delilah as she romped off-leash in the manner she has grown accustomed after just one week of being watched by a new master. In just a few days, Cyndie accomplished more control over our dog roaming freely than I was able to achieve during the entire time I was home with her.

Not long after I had become engrossed in my tasks of putting out morning feed for the horses, and cleaning up their manure, I realized Delilah had gotten out of sight. Eventually, I found her on the other side of the barn, excitedly engaged in a “negotiation” with a young rabbit. It was not an exchange that the rabbit was going to win.

Meanwhile, the horses were demonstrating their high sensitivity to the predator-prey drama unfolding, even though it was out of their line of sight. They knew exactly what was going down, and remained on high alert until it was fully concluded. It prompted an increased sensitivity in me for the poor victim whose life was ended for our dog’s meal.

Back in the house, I opted to serve just dry food for the morning feeding. After her early morning excitement, Delilah was confined to her kennel in the yard while I went under ear muffs and used the power trimmer and then the diesel tractor to mow down more rampant growth around the property.

When I had finished, and it was time to feed the horses again, I hooked up Delilah to her leash and brought her with me. When we got to the back pasture, where I had just mowed, I decided to let her run free inside the fence. Before I could even get her unhooked, she reacted to a scent, despite the strong wind, and pulled hard to get after something. When I opened the clip on her leash, she bolted for the spot uphill in the direction from which we had just come.DSCN2675e

It looked like a mouse that had probably been killed by the mower. It appears that the scent of death is something Delilah is exceptional at detecting. I moved on without her and headed toward the barn, to put out the horse’s evening feed. Delilah caught up to me eventually and lingered for a while, briefly annoying the horses with some aggressive barking and threatening gestures. One of these days she is going to get kicked and it will be no surprise.

To her credit, when I finished in the paddock and was ready to wheel manure out to the compost pile, she heard my call and came running from somewhere out of sight. The success thrilled me, until I got the gate open and she sprinted up the trail into our woods without me.

I finished puttering with the compost piles and contemplated how I might get her to come back. Then I heard the tags clanking on her collar. She returned with her 3rd prize of the day: a freshly killed squirrel.

Our intrepid hunter seemed driven to not eat canned dog food this day. She, and the US women’s soccer team, had their hearts set on wild game, for sure.

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Written by johnwhays

July 6, 2015 at 6:00 am

Pure Joy

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IMG_3836eEven though there was much in the way of work being done on the main day of ‘Work Weekend,’ at the lake place we call Wildwood, there was no shortage of fun in the endeavors of the day.

After toiling away on the beach to reclaim the area from the unending processes of Mother Nature to take over our sandy little oasis, I pitched in, literally, to help others in improving the landscape in front of the lodge. The grass grows really well in the spaces near the building where it isn’t wanted, and I assisted with digging it up using a garden fork that looked like a very close relative of the pitch fork that has become one of my primary tools at home. A beautiful array of perennials were planted into the newly turned soil.

IMG_3843eThroughout the tasks, conversations blossomed in an annual renewing of connection with members of the community who scatter to their city lives for most of the winter.

Taking a pause from the work, I stopped back to the house where Cyndie was resting her hip and reading a book. I sat with her for a bit, until I noticed she had nodded off into a nap. Figuring I might as well go get my computer to take advantage of the time, I climbed the stairs to our room, finding my laptop beside the great big bed. Since she was already asleep, I figured I didn’t need to take it back downstairs to be in her proximity, and so laid on the bed to check in with the world.

I awoke in a slobbery mess of drool, after a most delicious unplanned nap of my own.

Hearing the words, “soccer game,” I descended the stairs to rejoin humanity and rediscovered how much joy I get from playing the beautiful game. I think it started as 4-v-4, but soon grew to include more people than the space actually allows. Maybe that is why the decision gets made that we won’t use borders, and play continues regardless the fact the ball is within the jungle gym play area, around the SUV parked on the driveway, or even behind the goals, like a game of hockey.

Slowly, in a reverse of how the numbers swelled to the maximum, players wander off to other pursuits, often without saying a thing. After battling situations that feel a lot like playing short-handed in a game of hockey, the game is paused and a player volunteers to switch so play can resume with reasonable balance. In the end, it came down to me facing one last challenge from 6-year-old nephew, Beck, for some 1-v-1.

He said, “Go over to your goal.”

“No, that’s an awful long way away. Let’s just play a small game right here,” I encouraged.

He kicked the ball around me and headed the length of the field to ‘my goal.’ What could I do? I chased after him to protect my goal. He was a tenacious foe and I soon realized he would not quit until he succeeded in getting that ball in the net. I was tired and wanted to be done, so I provided an opportunity. He missed. The ball rolled wide. A few near-misses later, the ball found the target and he was satisfied. Game over.

Pure joy.

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Written by johnwhays

May 25, 2014 at 8:17 am