Crowd chants B/R writer’s name in K.C. media soccer game
LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. It is one of the crown jewels of American soccer and the home of Sporting Kansas City. It is also the site of October’s World Cup qualifier between the United States and Guatemala.
I got to play there.
I arrived at the stadium a little later than I usually do when covering a game. On game day, I’m usually there by 4:30 or 4:45, but I got there about 5:30 on Friday. NBC Sports Network was carrying the Sporting KC game with Chicago, so kickoff wasn’t until 7:21 pm.
I was set to play in the Media Game at halftime. As part of the package deal, I’d received two tickets to the game, along with Shield Club access and vouchers for food and drink. I left those at Will Call for my dad before going in to the stadium.
I went upstairs to the press box and took my assigned seat. I got my laptop set up and checked for any messages. I was starting to get nervous about walking out on the field, so I tried to do normal things to keep my mind off of it.
Since I hadn’t come to the stadium dressed for the game, team officials had told us to meet at the media entrance in the 20th minute of the first half so we could go down to one of the locker rooms to get changed. It was there that I started to meet some of my much better-known teammates.
After getting dressed, we walked out to the northwest corner of the stadium to wait for the end of the first half. It was there that our referee told us that we would be kicking off—the teams seemed to have been divided up at random, though people from the same media outlet were kept together—and I would be defending the goal in front of the Cauldron.
For those of you who have never been to a game at LSP, or watched one on television, the Cauldron is the all-inclusive name for the supporters groups that stand in the Members Stand on the north end of the stadium.
For three years before I began getting press passes, I was the guy playing on the rather large bass drum in the section, first at Arrowhead and then at Community America Ballpark. They are loud and passionate, and they love to try getting into the heads of the opposing players, especially the goalkeepers.
As I made my way into the goal in front of them, the Cauldron started in on me, probably because I knew several of them, by chanting, “Hey, Alan, your mom says, ‘Hi!’” I subtly responded with a rude gesture, but kept a rather large smile on my face. They put the lineups on the large video board and I heard the public address announcer say my name.
As the game got underway, the ball spent a lot of time at the other end of the field, so I didn’t have a whole lot to do. When the ball did come our way, though, I did manage to make a nice, sliding save.
That’s when the game went from amazing to truly unforgettable. There is a regular chant the Cauldron uses when starting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen makes a good save like that. To the tune of “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain,” they start yelling, “No, you can’t beat Jimmy Nielsen with that s***!” This time, they used my name. The Cauldron was singing about me. Not even every Sporting KC player gets that.
As the game went on, I misplayed a couple of balls and they scored a couple of goals. If only to deflate my ego a bit, the Cauldron started in on me again, this time with, “Hey, Alan, it’s all your fault!”
My team ended up losing the game 2-0, but afterward, we all shook hands with the other team and then walked off the field. On my way out, I did as I’d seen so many players do and clapped in the direction of the Cauldron.
After I changed clothes again, I went back up to the press box, but I couldn’t really concentrate on writing about the game. Even now, as I write this, the chant is still running around through my head.