Monday, August 23, 2010
As some of you may have noticed, we’ve been moving away from providing updates on the Rapids Undercurrent blog to communicating with fans via the team’s social media sites, Facebook and Twitter, as well as through the club's official website, ColoradoRapids.com.
These sites allow us to provide fans with news and nuggets on the team while allowing fans to provide feedback and opinions as they could have on the Undercurrent.
Many are aware of the challenges that MLS and the teams faced with the launch of the new internet network earlier this year – and to some extent are still facing. It was originally expected that teams would have a blog functionality on their sites (like DC has). While this still may happen at some point, the blog feature has taken a back seat to other elements that teams prioritized.
That said, the Rapids official site continues to make progress on other fronts.
Last week, the roster page and team stats pages were finally added, so visitors are no longer re-directed to MLSsoccer.com to get this information. We still have a bit of work to do to update and make the player bios more current and uniform, which we're working on.
Other new features are the Facebook comment and ‘Like’ options and the Twitter button on every article that is published on the site, allowing fans to quickly comment on any story and share the story with others, similar to what some used the blog for.
A new module has also been added to the front page - the Recommendations box, which has replaced the Rapids Undercurrent blog space. Through this, fans can quickly see which stories others ‘recommend,’ which they do so when they like, share, or comment on a story.
Moving forward, we’ll continue keeping fans updated on the Rapids via the team’s Facebook and Twitter sites, as well as with original content on ColoradoRapids.com.
We will consider bringing back the Undercurrent down the road if and when the blog functionality is available to be added to the main site, if it makes sense to do so (technology can sometimes make one to adjust how things are done).
Thanks again for your patience, for keeping up on the Rapids and sharing your opinions, and for your continued support of the team.
If you have any comments, suggestions, or ideas that you’d like for us to consider for our digital platforms, please send via email to: RapidsDigital at dsgpark.com.
Director, Digital Media
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
For more street party details, click here
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
When the U.S. tied the game, there wasn’t a new level or raised excitement. It was not the euphoria that you may expect, or that quite possibly you felt by watching it on TV. There was something missing in the stadium this day. Fans in general felt as tired as the players looked in that last overtime period. We had given it out all.
Many stayed to applaud the players. We made our way from row to row, section to section saying goodbye to so many that we'd seen at all four games. Fans of most MLS teams, that had traveled from all over the U.S., began to know us as the Colorado crew, because at least one us always had a Rapids' beanies or jerseys or sweatshirts on.
The taste of defeat is often shocking, for some reason. We had never discussed the U.S. winning the World Cup, but we were disappointed and sad when the game ended.
Why is that? Maybe because we still came to South Africa, thinking what if? Or because of the run the U.S. had that gave us optimism? Or maybe because of how positive the world seemed to be talking about soccer from the U.S. Or maybe because we just didn’t want the fun to end.
It doesn't end. The Rapids and British Bulldog will host another street party for the World Cup final on July 11, and I'm looking forward to being there (and at other partner bars for the Quarterfinals and semis). We'll all have another chance to come together again and remember how fun this ride was, and realize how bright the present and future of soccer is in Denver and throughout the U.S.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Where do I begin; or better, how do I begin to explain what it was like to be in the stadium yesterday to witness the USA’s 1-0 win over Algeria.
It was game day, and the game was being played in our temporary hometown – a 15-minute walk.
Three hours before kickoff, I was already antsy. I wanted to get out to Hatfield Square to see how fans were arriving; check out the atmosphere hours before kickoff. Two of us took off while the rest of the crew applied the facepaint and otherwise prepped.
We walk on the street that borders Hatfield Square – it’s been closed off to traffic. The pedestrians – all Algerians!
I don’t know how it was coordinated, but the hundreds of Algerian walking the street were dressed almost exactly the same: in a white jersey and green sweatpants. They waved flags as they walked around chanting in their language. We understood the words Washington and Algerie – that’s it.
We decide to walk towards the stadium in search of what for sure had to be a large group of American fans, somewhere.
On our way we stop at a bar and see the first Americans fans, quietly eating at a couple of tables. This was definitely not the scene I had anticipated, and it was bit concerning given that it was only two hours from kickoff.
We begin to see more Americans flags as we approach the stadium, but not too many. We spot ABC / ESPN / Univision crews on the street. We also notice the raised level of police presence – and watch how closely cops are looking for scalpers.
Walking a little further, we find a shopping plaza with a restaurant that hosts about 200 hundred decked-out American fans. Finally!
We catch up with the rest of the group – they had all been at Hatfield Square for the past hour, and tell us it was a boring environment. We walk in to Loftus Versfeld Stadium about 30 minutes from kickoff, wondering how this crowd will look.
Coming out of the tunnel into the stands, we’re realize we’re in a sea of red, white, and blue. There are so many Americans, all already loud and ready.
The U.S. National Anthem comes on and from above a large U.S. flag begins to be unrolled down from row to row. We’re now under this 20’ by 40’ foot flag, singing the anthem louder than can be imagined - joined by the other thousands of neighboring American fans.
The chanting starts before kickoff. “USA, USA, USA…USA, USA, USAAAAA…USA, USA, USA, U.S.Aaaa, U.S. Aaaaa.”
We breathe a sigh of relief when Algeria hits the crossbar in the first minutes.
“Oh when the Yanks, go marching in. Oh when the Yanks, go marching in.”
We grab our faces and hold our heads when they call back Dempsey’s goal.
One guys pulls up the England score on his phone – they are winning, and we need them to tie.
We briefly sit down in amazement when Dempsey’s shot hits the post, and his rebound is wide.
“Stand up, for the USA. Stand Up, for the USA. Stand up, for the USA, stand up, for the USA!!”
We’ve had so many chances, but it’s not going in.
We look at each other, that look that says we’re all thinking the same thing: it could be one of those days where the ball just won’t go in.
We don’t stop, and neither does anyone in the entire section. We yell louder, making sure everyone can hear us. Our group has loud voices: what we start is quickly picked up and spreads through the section. The vuvuzelas have nothing on us today!
We’re in stoppage time, but the energy the players are showing makes the crowd stay strong and loud. We sense it. There's still a level of confidence that it CAN happen.
Tim Howard catches a soft shot, and we see Landon take off down the right. Howard hits him in stride, like a quarterback to wide receiver. Landon’s first touch advances the ball. Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey are right next to him. It’s a counter attack that has so much promise.
The chanting stops, it’s now quiet, it seems.
Landon passes right to Jozy, who enters the box. We couldn’t stand any taller, but try to so by getting on our toes.
Our heads move slowly as the players run by down below. Our eyes see Dempsey running in the middle. Jozy sends cross – which I think is a shot. Dempsey, the keeper, and a defender collide. Everything is in slow motion.
The ball is sitting 10 feet away from the keeper, who is on the ground. From the stands, we all think we can reach it to knock it in. Landon is there, and neatly touches it in the back of the net.
Hysteria in the stands. We have no idea how the player celebrated. A brief look at the assistant and central refs, and it looked like the goal stood. Did we really just see this?
Our group ends up rows apart – jumping up and down the entire section. Someone grabbed me from behind and gave me a massive bear hug. I have no idea who he was. I actually see an older American male crying two rows behind - he couldn’t even scream, couldn't believe this just happened. Tears of joy. The little kids in front of us were hugging each other. It's just a reaction - you do whatever comes to you to celebrate. You lose your head in emotion and joy!
We miss the final three minutes, just going crazy. Waving whatever we have up high, chanting, singing. Some just can’t. They can only hold their heads, mouths closed. Yes, you just witnessed that, I try to tell a few.
For the next 45 minutes, you would think the USA won the World Cup – it was so awesome to look around and see the madness, and be part of it. Three quarters of the stadium had emptied, but the U.S. fans remained in the stands. We see the players on the field looking up at the big screen watching the replay. They come over to the sidelines and give their routine waves and appreciation to. I wondered how cool the stands had to look to the players.
We see some fans from Colorado, evident with the big state flag they are waving, and stop for photos. After some 30 minutes of celebrating in a near empty stadium, fans begin to walk out. But, most stopped on the concourse – thousands, it appeared.
Our group, many who have been to many world cups, looked on from the side, smiling. To see so many American fans – and celebrating like the biggest soccer countries in the world – it was something to step back from and notice once again how far soccer in the U.S. has come. It was, just amazing.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
With USA gear on, we depart Petroria for Johannesburg, an hour drive to Ellis Park for the USA vs. Slovenia game. We've all seen the horrible call at the end of the game by now, so what follows is about the gameday experience, rather than the game action.
Since we had two cars, we agree to follow the signs to the Park n Ride near Ellis Park - it's a place where we can park our cars and take the free shuttles to the stadium. The highway ride is pleasant, meaning no traffic, but the smoke that is visible as we approach Johannesburg is amazing. The dry grass on the side of the highway and internal areas is literally on fire – we can see the flames, but can’t react fast enough with the cameras.
On one left turn, we find ourselves in a very different environment. We are on a street that I expected to see much earlier. So many locals had advised us against driving in neighborhoods that look like this, so you can imagine what goes through your mind when you’re driving through it.
A few blocks away, traffic slows as we near the stadium, and we are approached by no less than 30 people trying to get us to park on the hills and open spaces they are creating on the side of the road. No one seems official, and the number of people that approach our cars asking us to follow them to a spot is a bit intimidating. And, most of them are wearing different colored 'vests', some of which say security or guard and / or are ripped or faded.
We kept driving and eventually settled on a Park N Walk location, run by the city's World Cup organization. Once parked we enjoy a celebratory beverage and then begin our walk to the stadium.
It's possibly one of the cooler strolls I've taken to a game, through a neighborhood street in Johannesburg, South Africa. Houses on this street did not have electronic wires protecting their front yards. Instead, they had people grilling and selling all kinds of meat for those of us walking by.
A woman and child are holding up a hand-written sign inviting us to their school - which was turned into a bar to raise money.
A little further down, a larger group of little kids are cheering "USA, USA, USA," as we approach. They want pictures, and so do we.
Everyone we pass waves and say "hello," or "good luck." Some approach and ask how we like Africa. It's a bit touching to feel such love from a place that others had described to us as dangerous.
The final block to the stadium was filled with vendor tents and tables, selling all kinds of food and gifts. In a twist from other games, we actually had an extra ticket to this match from a buddy that couldn't make it. We see two little kids playing by their family's vendor tent and we want to try get them in the game. We see another American fan holding up one ticket, so we ask if he'd be willing to give it up so we could offer both kids a ticket to the game. The guy didn't want to.
A few minutes later, we see one of the little kids running from the tent and towards us, waving a ticket. It set us up perfectly to give our spare ticket to his relative / friend. If you could only have seen how big their eyes got when we asked if they wanted our extra ticket. They quickly run back to their family and then join us at the turn style.
Once inside we pose for a photo, the two kids only saying "too much" when we ask if they are excited. They can't contain their excitement and make a dash into the stadium. We find other friends and take up 10 standing spots in the top rows of the lower level.
There are many, many American fans in this section. We can see when arms are raised but can't hear what is being said - the vuvuzelas drown out any attempt to have unified singing.
When it appeared the U.S. tied the game, we all ended up all over the place, hugging and high-fiving everyone within a ten-row area. Within 30 seconds, we realized it had been taken away, no one with a clue as to why.
The comeback over and a point secured. We pose for many photos - with other Americans, with Slovenias, and with many African fans. Our return to the car allowed to stop back at the school, and order more food from the street vendors. We had just watched a great game. We believe we made two little kids very happy. It was a great experience.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
The hour-long trip takes longer because there is so much traffic. There is clearly an attempt being made by everyone to make the game experience smooth. However some things we may take for granted, stand out here.
For instance, signage. You can follow a sign to the stadium – but once off the exit ramp, and with the option of turning left or right, you may not see another stadium sign again, so you guess.
Or, as happened to us, when one traffic police person tells us to stop at an intersection, and another other across the way is waving us to drive. We’re stuck in the middle of a decision, watching the two argue.
We park in a casino parking lot and approach the police at the end of the road to ask for walking directions to the stadium. ALL of them tell us no: "it’s too far and too dangerous." We walk to the free shuttle buses about a block away and are on our way, arriving at the stadium 45 minutes from kickoff.
It’s really the first facility I’ve seen that has World Cup written all over it. It’s the size of any large stadium in the U.S., with huge parking lots and long sidewalks that lead up to it. It’s also far from anything, it appears, so the transport buses keep driving in unloading passengers.
After a few photos, two of us tickets at face value from a Canadian guy that is decked out in Argentina gear. Three of the guys find tickets, and then we get the final missing pair. With 30 minutes to go, we're all!
My seats were actually great, right at about midfield and high up. An awesome view of the field. We see the two huge flags the Korean unveil during their anthem. Amazing. One flag was at least 55 yards wide.
There are a ton of Argentines in the stadium, most attempting to start the popular songs and chants. It’s unfortunate that there are so many vuvuzelas that drown out any such attempt at a normal soccer chant. Still, at one point, the Argentines fight through and can be heard. The loud ones are mostly downstairs.
Halfway through the first half, one of our crew texts us to let us know there are plenty of seats around him. We join them at halftime, in the corner of the lower level, in the middle of a large group of Argentines.
There are many “No Smoking” signs in the stadium, but apparently that means nothing in this section. These Argentines don’t sit, and exact seat locations are also a meaningless thing – this makes it easy for us to jump in. We notice the Boca Jr. flag - hard not to notice since it's about 20 feet long.
Before I made it down there, some of the rowdier fans approached my buddies and asked them to pay some money. Really. After denying the 'request,' the Argentines in front of my friends turned and said, "You're lucky this is the World Cup, because if you say no to those hooligans in Argentina, there would be trouble." Incredible!The second half is underway, and soon it starts...
“Vamos, vamos, Argentina. Vamos, Vamos, a ganar.” I’m jumping around pumping hands in the air, as are the other three.
“Se mueva para aca, se mueve para alla.” (And we move over here, and we move over there)…And we hop a few places to the right, then back to the left.
“Es un sentimiento, no puedo parar!” (It’s a feeling, I cannot contain)…singing non-stop as we waive anything in a circular motion high up.
As I jump around and watch the game, I have flashbacks to 1994, when my parents took brothers, sister, and me to Boston for the three Argentina World Cup games. The irony to look to my side and have three American buddies standing in their places, enjoying their first Argentina game as we I did back then.