Monday, June 8, 2009

World Cup Qualifying

(my beautiful wife gearing up for the game. you cannot see him in the picture, but the kid who sat next to her--11 at the most--introduced us to a whole new vocabulary. we never knew such words existed in English or Spanish.)

Paraguay hosted Chile last night in a World Cup qualifying match in the national soccer stadium. (Yes, it is the same stadium that shut down a few months ago after part of a support section broke. But, all better now...) Cat and I sat at just about midfield, 16 rows up. Incidentally, we were in the same section of the stadium that broke. Putting that little bit of unpleasant information aside, the seats were great. We had an incredible view of the entire field and of all the action. And by "all the action," I am referring to both the action on the field as well as in the stands after the referee's no-call or, conversely, foul call against Paraguay.

The atmosphere was unbelievable. 35,000 plus cheering fans packed the stands. The most boisterous, vehement fans occupied the end zones. They chanted and cheered the entire game. That's over 90 minutes of non-stop drumming, singing, cheering, and jeering. When you add in the 30 minutes of pre-game and post-game cheering, the end zones rocked non-stop for over two hours. It was quite a display of energy and devotion.
(crazy end zone fans!)

To keep the suspense at a minimum, Paraguay lost 2-0. Chile scored a goal in each half despite Paraguay carrying the play for most of the game. Now I am not making excuses but due to an accumulation of yellow cards, Paraguay was without some of its best players. Had Paraguay won, however, it would have qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Thankfully, Paraguay has five more chances to capture that victory: two away games and three home games. And one of those home games is against Argentina. Oh the gods are kind.

(yes, that kid in the background is wearing a mask because apparently swine flu has made it down here.)

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