09 July 2011 – “you suck asshole…”

Back in the land of Milk and Honey I am on a rock and roll tour. This trip is going to be hard. Let’s see how I get on…

Of course I was only here literally last week.

My week back in the UK which consisted of trying to catch up with friends, trying to escalate the number of Simple Minds concerts that I have been to and finalising business accounts which were all hampered by a massive things to do list. Did I forget to put the bins out? … who cares!

Back in New York City on Saturday, I was greeted with the normal jealous bunch of friends I have sending me messages on Facebook and Skype. I could argue until the cows came home, but despite 60mph winds, flooded streets, a near four hour drive to do 20 miles in Manhattan rush hour traffic, many still assume that I am in paradise and the luckiest man alive doing what I do.

I am happy though. I can use my US cell phone again. I don’t do iPads, play stations or anything like that. I have an iPhone but that’s basically to make and receive calls with and to house a weeks worth of music. This beast however is something else. First of all the US has 4G networks – the speed is immense. The navigation is so amazing Id Ebay my TomTom tomorrow if I lived here. I have Skype on all day and can make and receive calls over the internet for free. The only issue I have is that the battery does not last for ever! Most importantly, contract free, everything unlimited all for 25 bucks. Woo hooo! Screw you O2 who have just charged me £119 when I have hardly used the damn thing this month!

In Facebook paradise I ‘liked’ one of my brunette friends on a hen weekend with lots of blondes in Brighton, chatted to an ex girlfriend about her horse and driving around California, mocked simple minds fans out of jealousy as I was not in Belgium for a music festival and probably knew more about the local gossip back home that I do when I am there.

I don’t even pay for hotel or motel wifi – I have created my own WEP network from my phone. It’s simply brilliant and unlike in the UK, never fails, never breaks down and always works even in stadia with 30,000 in.

I drove to the Red Bull Arena mid Saturday afternoon. I could not be bothered with any sightseeing or shopping. I am here to snap soccer so snap away I did. I can here just under two weeks ago with Jenny. Today the stadium looked even better with a deep blue postcard sky.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

I must have taken 400 pictures of this fine stadium and edited them down to about 30 – of which only about 10 will be syndicated to clients.

After the hullabaloo of the Gold Cup – this was a far more civilised experience. People asking if I was OK, welcoming me to the MLS soccer game, talking about Terry Henry, Luke Rodgers and the impending arrival of Manchester United later on in the month. I was actually in the USA with a smile on my face! How times change!

It was almost like a different culture, a different country. The Red Bulls photographer came up and introduced himself and I regretted after not giving him some tips about going to Arsenal at the end of the month when his team compete in the Emirates Cup. But he seemed busy doing official club stuff. I grinned watching him remembering that soon WBA and Wolves will be issuing us with long pre-match lists.

The spinach pasta rivalled Arsenal’s amazing media cuisine and with masses of stat sheets being handed out I can confirm that 6 goals by DC United have been scored with a left foot this season.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Out came the teams and they instantly stood still and respected the National Anthem of America with Thierry Henry counting the empty seats and Luke Rodgers coughing up a chewy golf ball and spitting on the lush green grass in sync with the Anthem’s end.

I was warned about the nature of todays game – it was local derby as such as DC United hailing from nearby Washington took  on the their rivals the Red Bulls. The first half was fast and furious made even more pleasant by a very nice lady from CNN coming to sit next to me.

For Shrewsbury Town fans reading this, Carl Robinson is still injured and Luke Rodgers played a blinder… though the game was only English League One standard at best.

The fans loved him though many assumed that he had played in the UEFA Champions League Final for Nottingham Forest. I had great delight in explaining that Forest won the European Cup over 20 years ago now and Luke played for the mighty Shrewsbury Town and Notts County to name a few.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Thierry or Terry Henry as the Yanks call him could play on until he is 50 if he keeps up his fitness. Every time he had the ball he seemed to have 6 seconds ahead of his opponent.

However it was plain to see that his brain was 6 seconds ahead of his team mates as he kept gesturing and looking up to the sky like all frustrated Frenchmen do when things go wrong for them. If only his team mates knew of his vision – oh la la.

The second half came and went with DC United stopping Henry’s Va Va Voom as I continued to follow the fortunes of the home side – though for European and the rest of the world audiences, the USA fixtures and results show them as the second team and thus you would assume the away team.

DC some how won 0-1 or is it 1-0?

New York Red Bulls 0-1 DC United for Europeans

DC United 1-0 Red Bulls for the USA people (but played at Red Bulls)

But the stadium score board did proclaim New York Red Bulls 0-1 DC United.

The Red Bulls have quite a crowd. Even with mass 2 for 1 ticket offers, a fine stadium based in Harrison easily accessible via the New York PATH (metro train) it was not a sell out. The fans behind the goal singing the songs you would expect to find on any English-speaking terrace. (home end)

Whenever the opposition goalkeeper took a goal kick, mass cries of “You suck asshole” echoed as one big chorus mimicked the English equivalent of “You’re shit ahhhhhhh…….” To be honest the USA version had quite a ring to it.

My over-riding joy of the day was the referees.

I have never witnessed it before, but they were armed with little cans of spray – I thought at first that they were travel shaving gel cans or body deodorant should they get interviewed by Miss CNN at the end of the game.

Apparently as used in South America leagues, when a free kick is given near the penalty area the ref marked a cross as to where the kick should be taken at. If the ball is moved then a simple yellow card is given. Thus no ball moving!

Equally as impressive was the pacing out of the ten yards and drawing a line with the spray paint. Should the defence wall go over the wall, yellow cards all around. Thus no players gaining yardage and shuffling forwards.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

It worked. I’ll have words with English referee Howard Webb about it the next time I see him. For the record the spray disappeared after about 90 seconds leaving no trace on the lush green surface.

Watching US TV back in my hotel room, the news was dominated by a baseball player who has scored his 3000th run and on the same subject the fan who caught said ball. The networks championed the fan who they estimated could have sold the ball for US $250,000 but decided to give the ball to the player. As a reward the fan who was ‘heavy set’ in American terms – ‘fat lardy bastard’ if you come from England – was rewarded with a luxury box until the end of the season with ..wait for it.. free food. He was happy to say the least!

On  a par to that was another tale of a baseball player scoring a home run but an over enthusiastic fan catching the ball on the top tier and falling over the rails to his death.

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/SPORT/07/07/texas.rangers.game.death/index.html

Surprisingly the US news channels featured lots on the last edition of the News of the World. As Americans do, churning out statistics like it was the best selling newspaper, was the oldest newspaper etc, at least I knew I was not in a time warp or still living in this moment of time. There was NOTHING in the media on the MLS game I had just been to despite it being the equivalent of Liverpool v Manchester United. The News of the World story just gave me the assurance that I still was living on the same planet that I was on yesterday.

I came over here for MLS in its first season in 1996. DC United were the Manchester United of the early years winning everything. Since then, many teams have had their own stadiums constructed. Its starting to work. I think it will take another 20 years before it catches on properly.

Another thing I remembered is that in Florida I managed to take pictures of FIVE professional football matches in one day. I have still yet to contact the Guinness Book of Records but being in the country of stats perhaps I may! For the record they were THREE back to back MLS games on the outskirts of Miami. I then floored it in a rental car to the now demolished Miami Orange Bowl for two Gold Cup matches.

For everyone who thinks I am soccer crazy, it was about at half time during the third game I got fed up. At the start of the fifth game I would have done anything to avoid snapping ANOTHER game of football. I am just glad that I did not have to edit.

A fun day – yes – but no holiday – I had a 4 hour sleep then an epic drive across the city for a 6 hour flight back to Los Angeles. After a two hour wait for a hire car – I am never using Dollar in LA again! – I had to wait until 5pm for a hotel room to be ready in my new location of Ventura – as in Ace Ventura Pet Detective. An early night is a must  – I have to be wide awake for my second assignment of this 3 week trip.

If you want to carry on reading… “Just soccer. It’s the game,”

http://nytimes.stats.com/mls/recap.asp?g=2011070910

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One response to “09 July 2011 – “you suck asshole…”

  1. Not only are you a good photographer, but your writing isn’t bad either! Very good read

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