In December of last year, Real Salt Lake faced off against Eastern Conference Champions, Sporting Kansas City. I made the trek out to the match and thought I’d share my experience as we head into the rematch this weekend.
I’ve been avoiding writing this, it feels like, since the day that it all happened. With the game this weekend it feels like a proper time to re-hash old wounds and dredge the deeper parts of my soul for memories I’ve tried to hide.
That all seems a bit melodramatic, doesn’t it? My friends will tell you that it’s just who I am, but I’ll tell you that I truly have tried to avoid thinking or talking about MLS CUP 2013 since the second the last penalty touched the back of the net and I walked out of what was, quite literally, a cold, blue Hell.
I will say that I do not regret going to the final for one single second. I’ll do it again every single time RSL are at any final. It was a great weekend, if you avoid thinking about the result. Friends, food, greeting a new city and meeting new people, being there for the Claret and Cobalt no matter the distance. That is what I want out of life. I traveled with a group of friends and met up with more once we were all in Kansas City.
Arriving there on Friday gave us little time to really get out and explore, but there was more than enough to do with the festivities the night before the big game. You could tell from the first second we stepped off the plane that it was cold as hell. Waiting for the bus to the rental car pick up was eye opening. It pierced through everything. Jackets and sweatshirts seemed useless against the bitter wind. I kept thinking to myself “how cold is it going to be tomorrow night?”. Later that night we got a little taste of just what that cold would be like at the MLS party held at the Power and Light district in downtown Kansas City.
Freezing doesn’t quite capture just how cold it was. Again, layers didn’t seem to matter, the cold bit at every little piece of exposed skin and cut you to the core. How were the teams to be expected to play in that type of cold? Still shocked that they were able to.
That night ended with a lot of angst, for me. The nights before big games are usually like that, but this more than others. It was the final. The big final. As I laid in bed I thought about all the opportunities that RSL had already had that year and in years past, to raise silverware and had fallen short. Monterrey. Of course that popped into mind. So close, if not by inches, to a trophy. DC United in the USOC earlier that year. Again, we were right there, with the cup in our grasp it seemed, only to have it stripped from us by what many would see as far inferior team. History was not on our side and I knew it, but I believed.
Tomorrow, part two: Worth every minute.