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May 30, 2012

SSTAS - Day 4

After a rough Day 3 I was looking to relax. And I did. It was like my soccer sabbath.

Day 4 was relatively slow but maybe that's why I enjoyed it so much. The night before I asked about a shuttle transportation to the man at the desk. He warned me against walking because of the "really bad" neighborhoods in between. But it was daylight, the shuttle wouldn't take me there, and less than three miles so I just made the walk.

I got there almost an hour and a half early. Here are more tweets with [[post-tweet commentary in brackets]].

  • An hour before the @RochesterRhinos vs @PhilaUnion game and I've seen maybe 500 people. It's early but still... [[Eventual 4175 in attendance]]
  • This guy is the Rochester Rhinos fitness coach, I think.
  • Bored? Feel free to stare at me on I'm literally sitting right behind the goal.

  • Multiple announcements asking people to not use bad language. Do they know this is Philadelphia - The land of the ****?? [[Didn't really have a specific word in mind for the asterisks. That's kind of the point.]]
  • Yellowcard and Breathe Carolina to play concerts during the College Rugby Championship at PPL. All of that is too much to handle.
  • If I see a large Rochester section I might go move over there at halftime. Just so I can boo Philly a lot.
  • Goalie warmup. #censorpool
  • Rochester's German goalie, Nicht, yells "Ba!" on warm up crosses. German for "Mine!"?

    [[Looked up goalie, keeper, mine, ball in German. No dice. Not sure what he was trying to say. Maybe just "Ball" but soft L's.]]
  • He looks pretty solid. Good fundamentals except his ready position is hands wide...
  • This is bad because he's adding time and distance on his dives/low collapse saves. To make a save, hands will start wide, come in to the body, then go out to make the save. Very lengthy. The position is close range stops where you just want to cover space, like a wall.
  • Attendance not looking great. I've counted around 300 in seats alone. Probably another 100 in box seats.
  • McManus looked sharp in warm ups. Rochester's roster has quite the variety.
  • Fans may have doubled in size. I'll try to count again around half time.
    [[Did not do this but I would have guessed 3000-4000.]]
  • Philly has this super cool tradition where they yell "!" when the visiting line up is announced.
  • I don't see any Rochester section or apparel. Pretty bummed. @RochesterAO [[RochesterAO tweeted back at me that they are small and just starting up. Hopefully they will continue to grow.]]
  • Oh man just saw a Dunkin Donuts sign. So hungry now. [[Definitely planning on grabbing some double D's at some point.]]
  • Behind Philly goal to start. MacMath sill hurt but glad to watch Adu and Carroll.
  • Rochester jerseys are stupid by the way. White sleeves, shorts, socks, lemon yellow middle of shirt. [[Couldn't find a pic but trust me, they were not good.]]
  • Fans appreciate Konopka, goalie. [[Might have been yelling just to yell...]]
  • Rochester definitely coming out strong. Looks promising.
  • Konopka also Catholic, apparently. [[Knopy would dig his foot into the ground on the six yard box in three places, one in front of each post and one in the middle of the two. Kind of odd. Not sure why he does that.]]
  • Oh you dumb Rhinos. [[1-0]]
  • Oh no...
  • For a team with a great defense they sure look really bad on defense and creative up top.
  • No team has any other answer besides "hope they mess up" for crosses and switching play. [[I still stand by this. Philadelphia just muscled Rochester on 50-50 balls but the midfield couldn't stop the counter attack.]]
  • Knoppy makes sloppy turnover but a big save to get back to even. [[Earls jumped on a poor pass and almost hit McManus for an equalizer. Also this is where I started calling Konopka "Knoppy" as he obviously needed a solid nickname. Can't have a name "Konopka" and not have a nickname.]]
  • Also I was twenty feet from Adu. That was cool. [[On a corner kick. Adu was calling out for someone to get backpost. Good to see that leadership. But boy is he short. 5'10" at most.]]
  • Danny Earls need to get picked up by an MLS team. Think Dax McCarthy. But more fun to watch. [[Not quite sure why he got dropped by Colorado (twice) and Seattle. I saw that they played him at LB when he winger's mentality. Plus he's short so he doesn't really need to be in the back. No taller than Adu.]]
  • Weather getting worse... Effin' Independence Day.
  • Philly will score another one from out of the air but I wouldn't be shocked by a Rochester equalizer. [[Called it.]]
  • Knopy about six inches from an own goal. [[I can't double italicize something but imagine it on the word "extremely" here: Knopy got extremely lucky on not giving up an awful goal. Ball was passed back to him and took way too long to get it out. McManus challenge him and when he dove out to block the pass his foot went over the ball. Two bad mistakes that could have made it 2-1 Rochester.]]
  • Game delay for bad weather. On the restart I'm going to ask the five Rochester fans if they want I sit front row. [[Did not do this.]]
  • Light-Medium rain but no lightning. Don't think the bad part will last too long but idk if refs will wait until its all gone or not. [[Never any lightning that I saw. Would have been fun to watch in the rain, which we ultimately did anyway.]]
  • Thought about going to Harrisburg. Eff. [[New England goes a man down early and ends up losing. Would have been a great game to see.]]
  • You are in control of music thousands will hear and you play recycled 90s post-grunge? How disappointing. Any college kid could do better. [[Pet peeve.]]
  • Players coming back. Maybe Rochester will be less worse than Philadelphia after the restart. [[Nope.]]
  • Rochester players actually enjoying the heckling, usually turning around and smiling.
  • Asking a fan if this was Will Smith rapping on the speakers and he said "Of course. It's Philly."
  • Game restart. Adu's shot only close because his original shot bounced off a players' chest. About a 30 degree change.
  • Rochester having trouble holding possession. Can't win in the air against a mid-sized MLS team.
  • Feel free to correct but drop from MLS to NASL Pro isn't so much skill as it is size and fitness. [[USL Pro Division, not NASL. Rochester might be upset about that.]]
  • Philly CBs playing over the top balls really well, which is Rochester's main source of attack.
  • Called it. Adu off a header. 2-0. Would like to see one Rochester goal :{ /
  • I realize how dumb this sounds and that he has a goal and assist but I thought Adu had been relatively quite. Mostly wing play. [[He inserted himself over time but it really was the service that killed Rochester.]]
  • Rochester is a lot of fun to watch. Everyone doing something to help the offense. Unfortunately the defense is full of vegetables. [[I googled "vegetables playing soccer." Nada. Pretty disappointed in the internet.]]
  • Philly AO starts "We all laugh at the yellow submarine." Creative. [[Sons of Ben, not Philly AO. My mistake.]]
  • **** you. now being chanted. #totalphillymove
  • Earls gets a yellow for studs up. No replay but Earls was pretty adamant about no foul. Adu grabs his arm and scolds him. [[Asked a fan later if the yellow was really that bad. He smirked, rolled his eyes and said no. Philly player definitely sold it.]]
  • Knopy lucky deflection goal was offside (which was questionable). Looks super nervous and is even more lucky Rochester attack is stalling. [[The player yelled at the linesman but the linesman looked confident and pointed at the line which he crossed. Looked on to me but I was watching at a 90 degree angle.]]
  • US youngsters Okugo and Williams doing well in the back. [[I thought Okugo was more of a CDM but I suppose against a smaller team they could afford to put him at CB. Williams was honestly a brick wall the entire game. Rochester could not beat him.]]
  • Philly fan after Rochester "hand ball", "Are we getting every call?"
  • Undercover Rhino in the PhillyAO section. Honestly just wanted a reason to yell.
  • Well the drums have split sides and are trying to match the beat. "THERE'S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SPEED OF LIGHT AND THE SPEED OF SOUND!"
  • Stopped tweeting because of the weather, low battery, and I ended up in the Sons of Ben section. I'll blog it duh.

The last three tweets need some context. At halftime, which Philadelphia had completely control of the game, I walked to the other side of the stadium to watch Rochester attack. I found their attack more creative than Philly. Certainty not better, but more creative and fun to watch. There was the speedy Bank on the RW; Earls (Rochester's best player) on the left; McManus, who had taken out by Knoppy earlier and was looking about 80% (Knoppy's cleats in his calf?); And a few other players that knew enough about soccer to expose a relatively weak back line. Philly's attack was mainly centered around out jumping Rochester on solid services, which, again, is a very effective form of scoring, just not entertaining to watch in my opinion.

(Just a smige on the USLPD, like I tweeted above, the biggest difference between the USLPD/NASL seems to be size and fitness. A lot of the Rochester players had the skill and/or the mind to play in the MLS. Several players chastised each other for making poor plays when they were in the right position to receive a pass. Mainly McManus and #8. Rochester couldn't win anything in the air and they really weren't that much smaller than Philadelphia. Philly knew how to use their size and could explode not only up for a header but also laterally with sprints. Rochester looked pretty ragged as the game wore on but Philadelphia kept pressing. And, like the Daily said on their video, a lot of the USLPD/NASL teams have former MLS players on their teams. Although I think the USLPD is just a "third" tier in formality. I can't imagine there is a big enough gap to slot another division between the USLPD and the MLS. Not that big of a drop off.)

The Sons of Ben, Union's largest supporter group, were sitting behind Rochester's goal in the first half but about 80% wished to continue to sit behind the German keeper. So as I walked to where the Sons of Ben were, most of them walked to where I was. About thirty SOBs stayed in their original section and called everyone in the five sections to sit close. I thought it'd be rude to not sit with them plus it was a perfect opportunity to yell and make snide remarks.

The decision to sit with the few SOBs was probably my best decision of the trip. (Also got a delicious Domino's pizza that day.) The rain picked up for ten minutes but learning the chants definitely took my mind off being cold and wet. Half the chants were made up on the spot while the other half were returning ones, all of which were easy enough to pick up on the second or third time through. My favorite one was probably, "Oh Philly yooou, you got what I neee-eeeed. We'll love you to the end *clap clap* Defend the river and Oh Philly yooo-ooo-oou..." Not that you know the tune but it was awesome.

Top highlight from sitting in the section was everyone cheering Knoppy for drying his gloves. 30 people yelling "Yeah! Dry your gloves! Wooo!" He proceeded to "wash" his chest with the towel and everyone with crazy. At the end of the game, the ref blew his whistle and Knoppy turned around, fist clenched and let out a roar. The fans, and I, loved the real passion. A MLS player interested in the Open Cup? Huh.

I stayed around to 1.) Watch the players and 2.) Try to get a ride. I got even closer to Adu than before, three feet, who was joking with the fans and signing autographs. McLaughlin signed a lot too. And by a lot I mean all 12 of the people asking for them. I was getting my Mc's mixed up and thought he was Jack McInerney, who has gone through the US youth teams. McLaughlin is a homegrown player but hasn't been called in to any camps, I don't think. I honestly can't find too much on the youngster. A winger with speed and willingness to use it. Chandler Hoffman also came in the 90th minute, who got some buzz at the combine. I don't think he touched the ball.

Oh, a rather large man (XXL?) asked Adu, "Hey Adu! How about your jersey! I think it would look great on me!" Adu laughed as everyone did.

Such a great experience. You know a team has an awesome fan base when they subtly convince you to root for their team.

I got a ride back to the hotel from a very nice man. We listened to some modern punk rock, NOFX and Five Iron Frenzy. It really took me back. Music was meant to be fun.

USA v. Brazil on Wednesday then somehow getting up to Toronto. Will probably need to buy a hoodie to compliment my t-shirt luggage. High of mid-60s.

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