When they announced that St. Louis was going to be hosting a 2018 World Cup Qualifier, I got super excited. One of my best friends is from The Lou, I would get to add another city and state to my list, and knock off another sports venue.
St. Louis has a rich soccer history. Five of the eleven members on the 1950 U.S. World Cup team, which defeated England 1-0 in what is considered one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history, hailed from St. Louis. Additionally, at least one St. Louisan has been included on every USMNT squad in World Cup history. For soccer history nerds, this is a city to geek out over. New Busch Stadium has hosted several friendlies in the past few years, including Man City v. Chelsea, Bosnia & Herzegovina v. Argentina, and the USWNT v. New Zealand. So I was excited to see what the city and the stadium had to offer.
We started off the day with a brunch at Rooster on Locust Street. My fried egg sandwich was delicious, if somewhat messy. After brunch, and a quick stop at the grocery store for provisions (read: a a a a a alcohol), we headed over to Kiener Plaza for the American Outlaws tailgate.
Kiener Plaza is a great place to tailgate. It’s in the middle of the city, so it’s easily accessible. It is also located near restaurants and stores, making the acquisition of food and finding clean bathrooms relatively convenient. Additionally, Kiener Plaza serves as a wide open space with room to roam about and not have to worry about getting hit by cars. Most importantly, it’s across the street from the stadium, making it virtually impossible to get lost (this is an important detail for directionally challenged people such as myself). And the view does not suck.
As a shorty, and as a person who gets frustrated standing (and walking) behind people, I always head in early to make sure I can get a spot in the front row. This served me particularly well at this match. When caught up in the hustle and bustle of a match day, we are often out of touch with what’s going on outside our very narrow soccer universe. Keeping that in mind, many had no idea of the tragic events unfolding in Paris. As we were preparing to head in to an international soccer match, the fact that one of the attacks occurred outside the Germany/France match hit close to home. Not having much information about what was going on, the security at the stadium was more intense than normal. As we entered the stadium, and had some time to relax before kickoff, information about the events in Paris started to trickle through, casting a somber atmosphere over the fan sections. #ParisIsLove
Soon, fans started to fill in the sections, and team warm ups were starting. It was quite cool in St. Louis once the sun went down. I love fall, and firmly believe sports should be experienced in the elements, so I have a wide variety of cool weather accessories for every sports team I support. A girl’s gotta look fly for her team! After the team introductions, and a moment of silence for Paris, it was time for kickoff. The game started out well enough, but after 5 minutes, we were down a goal to a CONCACAF minnow. The thing with minnow teams, however, is that they are usually made up of non-professional players and their inexperience eventually reveals itself. That being said, almost all of our goals (we scored 6!) were stupid goals. Not skillful goals you will be talking about for weeks to come, but goals that were scored because a defender scored with his butt. At halftime, we are up 3-1.
By full time, the USMNT had dominated their way to a 6-1 victory in front of a St. Louis record 43,433 fans.
VIN – Oalex Anderson (5th minute)
USA – Bobby Wood (11th minute)
USA – Fabian Johnson (29th minute)
USA – Jozy Altidore (31st minute)
USA – Geoff Cameron (51st minute)
USA – Gyasi Zardes (58th minute)
USA – Jozy Altidore (74th minute)
If you ask anyone if they were worried after the 5th minute, they’ll tell you “no” BUT THEY ARE BIG FAT LIARS. The USMNT have been kinda shit lately, so it was nice to be on the positive end of the rout.
As always, I had a blast with my AO Family in St. Louis. As I’ve mentioned before, you quickly make friends with people around the country through the USMNT, and so you will always know someone at a match. And we are a extremely…. quirky group of individuals. I am excited to were I will be (potentially) traveling to in March for the next home qualifier.
A Quick Word on Busch Stadium for Soccer Matches
While I was impressed with Busch Stadium overall, I don’t think it is a great stadium for soccer. The American Outlaws were put behind the goal at ground level, which was below the pitch.
This made for incredibly awkward sight-lines, including not being able to see the part of the pitch that was 15ft in front of the advertising boards. Basically, we weren’t able to see 3 of the 4 goals scored at this end of the field because they were scored below our line of sight. Additionally, those of us in the front few rows had to constantly ask US Soccer staffers to move out of the way because they were blocking the view. The view from the supporters seats behind the goals isn’t the greatest, but at $75+ a ticket, I expect to be able to see the goals.