Football travel weekend: Germany vs USA

I took Amtrak up from Durham, NC, on Friday to watch the match. After a rather long delay, which involved waiting half an hour for a disabled freight train a bit north of Richmond and driving backwards most of the way to Richmond to reach the next track crossing so we could go around it, I made it to DC.

I grew up in Maryland, so I took the opportunity the game provided to visit family. I stayed with my sister in Dupont Circle Friday and Saturday, then Sunday morning I trekked across DC to Southeast to stay with my brother in law, since I was going to the game with him and his girlfriend. Conveniently, they live really close to RFK Stadium.

This was my first live international football match, and I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of the crowd or atmosphere. We arrived at the stadium around 1:15, and there was a steady stream of people going in. The crowd favored the American side, not too surprisingly, but there was no lack of people in DFB jerseys and t-shirts. I spotted a woman carrying a Hertha BSC backpack, so I had to stop and say hello. On the way out, I spotted a woman in a custom Hertha jersey and snapped a photo.

We were in time to see the teams warming up.
We were in time to see the teams warming up.

Our seats were in section 127 row 9, right near the corner flag, so we had a great view of the entire pitch. Fans trickled in, and the seats slowly filled up. Fans from Germany were in attendance, and their home fan banners hung from the walls.

lineups-banners

It was hot and humid, as summer days are wont to be on the east coast, with threatening thunderstorms. Fortunately the rain stayed away, save for a few brief spatterings of raindrops. The clouds were a welcome reprieve from the sun.

ZDF

I had a close view of Lukas Podolski when he took Germany's first corner.
I had a close view of Lukas Podolski when he took Germany’s first corner.

The crowd was fairly friendly, and I eventually ended up sitting beside a married couple who had worn the shirts for the team they didn’t support. They’re a divided household: he’s American, she’s German. She and I each held an end of my scarf when Germany scored.

stands-3

Despite the B- and C-string players showing up for Germany, the crowd seemed pleased–especially when USA went 2 goals up, followed by rousing chants of “USA! USA!” The atmosphere was generally good, despite the heat.

I spotted Jogi Löw prowling the sideline in the second half.
I spotted Jogi Löw prowling the sideline in the second half.

I asked my brother in law what he thought of the atmosphere, since he lives up there and has gone to a couple DC United games, and he said it was “weird,” because “in DC, there are people who just want to cheer on Team USA” whether they’re fans of that particular sport or not.

I didn’t get to follow the game play as well as I could if I were watching on TV, partly because I’m short and even standing, I had trouble seeing through the people standing in rows ahead of me.

For a first international match, this wasn’t a bad one to attend. The game was well-fought, even if we didn’t get to see many of the big stars. I got to see Miroslav Klose play and score a goal, even if it was offside. He’s one of my favorite players, and considering my residence outside Germany, I may not have that opportunity again before he retires. The final scoreline didn’t matter, so even a 4:3 loss didn’t demoralize the fans too much.

I hope someday to see the German national team play a competitive match in Germany. If I’m lucky, it’ll be before Klose retires.

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Conni is a writer, football fan, and beer nerd. Her latest short story "Something There Is" is available in the anthology Substitution Cipher. You can follow her on twitter at @strafraum (football) or @exaggerated (writing and general life).

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