A game which has never needed any additional drama, subplots or rampant insanity has somehow, incredibly, managed to keep piling on heaping helpings of all three. But before we get to all of that, let's start the day out right by taking, as The Stoner suggests, a "look and listen back" to what is often referred to as "The Woodstock of American Soccer":
If that doesn't get a little blood flowing this morning, check your pulse.
This is it.
For the sake of clarity and sanity, let's break the situation down into four parts, consisting of the forecast, flying cheer nazis, US team problems and the situation with El Tri.
Weather or Not:
Since it's 36 hours to kick and no self respecting US fan is doing any work anyway, check out another video, this one from US Soccer.
As everyone knows, this game is referred to as "La Guerra Fria" which translates as "Mexican players freezing their cajones off".
Everyone who was there has a dozen great stories that, like Vietnam Veterans after a half dozen beers, they'll be happy to share. Any time.
And lest you think you were going to get off easy here, I'm going to relate a couple of my own.
- Driving into the lots, the first thing you saw was four guys standing by the side of the road holding a large American flag and singing the national anthem at the top of their lungs, something made even more notable by the fact that a) it was freezing cold out and b) they did this for, as near as anyone can tell, almost three straight hours.
- If, like a lot of people, you like to get into the stadium early to watch the teams warm up, you waited in vain for El Tri. They simply refused to come out of the locker room. Never saw hide nor hair of any of them until just before kick.
- The on-field moment when everyone - most especially the Mexicans - realized that things had changed forever in these matches was when Luis "El Crapador" Hernandez and Cobi Jones hit the ground in a tangle of arms and legs after a typical Hernandez intimidation tackle. On the first video there's a brief shot of the two of them squaring off, nose-to-nose.
And 20,000+ screaming, bloodthirsty, insane US fans were ready, I mean really ready, to leap the railings and quite literally kick crap out of Hernandez. Crew Stadium - at that point less than two years old and still the only "soccer specific stadium" in the US - rocked and seethed with one angry voice. Deafening. Terrifying. Exhilarating. No one was going to intimidate a player wearing the US crest on US soil ever again.
Jones felt it. The building had his back. It was surreal.
- With about five minutes left and the building literally shaking under our feet amid a deafening roar of celebrating fans chanting "U S A", I was standing - actually no one in the entire pace sat for a single second that day, or ever since; it's just tradition now - in an aisle about ten rows from the field when I felt someone brush past me.
As he moved down the crowded, fire marshall's nightmare of a stairway, I saw that it was a Mexico fan holding a green team jersey in his hand.
He pushed his way through the mob to the railing, reached back like a baseball pitcher and threw his jersey onto the field; then, without waiting to see it land, he turned marched down the ramp into the cold dark Columbus night.
Dos a Cero.
Bring it on.
The 2009 game saw weather that was just as bizarre. A pre game monsoon blew through leaving the parking lots, which were still entirely dirt and grass, suddenly became mud and ankle deep water.
It was enough to dampen the spirits until, well, you absolutely had to see it:
So what's in store for tomorrow night?
Well, as it turns out, the soccer gods have decided that since they've already tried freezing this game and drowning it, then maybe they'll try burning it up:
Current forecast for a city whose average September temp is 79 degrees:
93 and sunny.
Some might suggest this favors the players from a rather warmer country, but a) we're coming off a Summer in the US and the US based players are used to being hot anyways and b) both teams have players just in from Europe which may have been cooler in recent days but none of them wll have the advantage.
The only guarantee is that El Tri will probably be willing to take off the knee length coats and warm up a bit before the match.