Last night, I sat sweating in sticky 90F+ degree heat, listening to an obnoxious, drunken idiot screaming, and I was incredibly tired. But, I couldn't stop grinning. I might as well have been getting a massage on a Hawaiian beach, as happy as I was. The heat, the idiot - none of it mattered, because last night, I got to see the greatest football club in the world - Manchester United!
My beloved Manchester United continued their North American tour, taking on the MLS team, Philadelphia Union. The match took place at Lincoln Financial Field, because although the Union has recently opened their own stadium, it wasn't large enough to hold all the spectators that attended last night's game.
My husband and I took the big guy, who at six years old, is already crazy for United. We live fairly close to Philadelphia, so we hit the road with the intention of arriving about an hour and a half before kick-off. As Murphy's Law would dictate, on our way there, we were stuck in some pretty awful traffic. As the minutes ticked by, and our car didn't move, I started to get very anxious. I had been counting down to this day for months and I couldn't believe this was happening!
We finally arrived at the field and got to our seats, with maybe 15 minutes to spare...whew! I certainly wish that we had been able to meander a bit and take our time soaking up the atmosphere, but we made it for the most important part and really that was all that mattered.
There were over 44,000 fans filling the stadium. Although the Union is in it's inaugural year, they already have some very dedicated (and vocal) supporters. Their group, Sons of Ben, was out in force, singing and chanting. Even though we were rooting for the other team, it was very encouraging to see that kind of support from Americans for an MLS team.
The match itself was a very fast-paced and exciting one. I don't know if United was playing down a bit, or the club's youngsters were still kind of feeling their way, but the Union definitely held its own. Philly had some great chances - while most were lacking a competent finish, some were only saved by the skill of our keeper, Tomasz Kusczak. United and the Union went to halftime, 0-0.
Finally, in the 76th minute, Gaby Obertan scored a sweet goal, and United was up 1-0. And while the Union continued to press and had one goal disallowed as offside, the game finished with my beloved Manchester United victorious.
As for me, had the Red Devils won or lost, it was an experience that truly left me awestruck. Being able to watch the legendary Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs in action was incredible. Sitting in the stadium while my beloved club was working their magic on the pitch was as compelling as I'd imagined. I can't wait until the day when I finally set foot in Old Trafford. As magnificent as my experience last night was, I know being there will be most extraordinary dream come true of them all.