Day 12: the MLS

By Tom Adam

For arguably the second time this trip, the group were obliged to another typical 'red eye' experience in the early hours of Saturday morning – and no, there weren’t any hangovers here. Today the study group embarked on nearly a full day’s travel to the final destination of the tour in Denver, Colorado. From jumping on one of the earliest trains of the day to Vancouver airport, to enduring a small irritating pit stop in Phoenix, to being welcomed by an admirable Northern Colorado University [NCU] Bears van.

After being greeted by the NCU crew led by Craig, we were taken in two vans to one of Denver’s popular shopping areas for lunch and snacks before the much anticipated Major League Soccer [MLS] game. What was sure to be the highlight of the day was moments away – an MLS game between Colorado Rapids and the San Jose Earthquakes. A few of the boys including myself were extremely excited to watch and observe a professional fixture of our own personal preferred sport from back home in another country.

We arrived at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park a couple of hours before kick-off so the group could chill out for a bit and have the opportunity to watch the club fixtures of lacrosse that were happening on the numerous fields surrounding the stadium. I must say it is an intriguing sport to watch that makes you just want to try it – hopefully one day down the track.

Craig, Michael, and Ty suddenly became the ‘Heroes of the Day’ when they allowed us to use some of the University sporting equipment including a gridiron football and a soccer ball. Almost instantly after receiving the balls, we got the whole group into one big and rather competitive game of gridiron until the MLS kick off.

Once we entered the Rapids’ stadium the change of atmosphere was clearly evident. The game started off quite slowly with San Jose dominating early possession. The Rapids found themselves in a bit of strife when the referee awarded a red card to one of the Rapids players leaving them with 10 men for the rest of the game. Funnily enough this actually made the home team play with more urgency and as a result have them put in a much improved and entertaining performance in the second half for us. San Jose just held onto the 2-1 result but would consider themselves rather lucky for what happened in the closing stages of the game.

Overall everyone seemed to enjoy themselves as it was a great spectacle to witness while drawing some comparisons to our own A-League back in Australia, where I’m confident a few of our teams would be able to compete back over here in the MLS!

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