A continuation from yesterday. Saturday was the big day we’d all waited for. Honestly, Real Salt Lake in January of 2013 had, in my mind, ZERO chance of making it to this point. Kansas City in December was the last thing on my mind as we made our way through the first part of the season. We were elated and anxious that we had made it this far as we made our way to the stadium. I thought I would turn this part over to a friend that I traveled to the game with. Here’s his version of the Cold, Blue Hell.
MLS Cup 2013: Miles Dunn
There is an old Nordic saying that “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad equipment.” With this in mind I woke up on the morning of December 7th to apply the many layers of clothing that I had so neatly and meticulously packed into my carry on the day before. Two pairs of gloves, thermals, sweats, jeans, hoodies, coats etc… Little did I know that no amount of preparation or clothing would be sufficient to protect me from the cold weather and bitter disappointment that lay ahead.
Fully clothed and full of optimism as we pulled up to the pregame tail gate, I already felt like a winner. Here I was, amongst my friends and fellow fans, celebrating the chance to seize our second star and cement the long sought after “dynasty” moniker that had eluded arguably the best and most consistent team that MLS had seen in years. Hell, we were winners, if for no other reason than the fact that win or lose; we didn’t have to live in the god forsaken hellhole that is Kansas City. If I had to pick between traversing Wyoming by donkey and living in Kansas City, I’d take the ass. There wasn’t much to look at and there wasn’t much to do. We slowly sat, biding our time to kick off. The plan was simple, cheer loud and proud, get the win, lift the trophy, throw down some BBQ and get the hell out of Missouri on the first flight the next morning. But somewhere along the path things went terribly wrong.
I have lived in Utah my entire life; I have camped in rain and snow and braved the elements many a time. Never in my entire life have I experienced a cold like this. It shook my entire body to the core. As the sun set and the game grinded forward I could feel the elements beating on my body. I did everything I could to fight them back. It got so bad I went up and down the aisles of the RSL section picking up pizza boxes and putting them under my feet, anything to insulate me from the subzero temperatures of the cement stadium. Just when I thought I would literally lose consciousness a glowing ember burst through my body, Alvaro Saborio had, in an instant, illuminated the RSL faithful and had made us forget all about the cold.
This was it, all the demons that had been torturing my soul, the CONCACAF final, the Open Cup, and early exits out of the playoffs were only 34 minutes away from being completely expelled. We were to be champions once more. The time kept ticking as the temperature kept falling, bearable only by the thought of hoisting the cup. Another corner kick for SKC, no big deal, Borchers and Schuller had been gobbling those up all night. The ball seemed to hang in the air for days, eventually falling out of the atmosphere as it glanced across the head of Aurelien Collin and into the back of the net. No, not again, could another cup be slipping from our grasp?
The pain still runs deep and to this day I have not been able to watch the highlights of that game. The torture of watching Saborio and Grabavoy missing the first two pk’s. The elation as the steady Zusi gave us new hope and life. The anticipation as Velasquez stepped to the spot, with what seemed to be the game winner. The utter dejection as Palmer clanked the final shot off the crossbar. It seems like a blur now, mostly because of the ice induced delirium and the fact that I couldn’t watch half of the pk’s, relying on the sound of the crowd to know what had happened as I buried my head in my knees, to nervous to watch. They say that pain is simply weakness leaving the body. That night the pain ran deep, and it wasn’t weakness escaping, but rather my soul being torn once more from claret and cobalt beating heart.
I couldn’t sleep that night, every play running through my mind as vivid as if I were still standing in the south goal. Meticulously analyzing every blow of the whistle, every off the ball movement, every opportunity lost. The morning came and I found a semblance of relief in a $6 airport muffin and the gentle touch of a “random” security pat down. I don’t know if I will ever completely recover from that night and to this day I wish I could wake up and have it all be a bad dream but one thing will never change; I’m Salt Lake till I die, I’m Salt Lake till I die, I know I am, I’m sure I am I’m Salt Lake till I die.
The point of all of this was to exercise daemons, and to get ready for today’s match.
Believe, today more than ever.
Tags: Real Salt Lake