The first of hopefully many annual Bundesliga Fanatic roadtrips began last Monday. Contributor Kurt Duncan and I headed from the St. Louis area in the morning across the state of Missouri to Kansas City for the CONCACAF Gold Cup doubleheader at the brand new LIVESTRONG Sporting Park featuring Canada – Panama and the USA-Guadeloupe. Wearing two hats, I was also representing Brian Quarstad’s outstanding IMSoccer News http://www.insidemnsoccer.com/ blog, where I have the privilege of contributing articles about lower division North American soccer, and was fortunate enough to get my first press pass for the event..
Kurt is an interesting conversationalist, and with the cd player loaded with music as diverse as the Doors, Hank Williams, Bach partitas, John Coltrane, Sex Pistols,Led Zeppelin and a cd of music from this century burned by my wife, we were on our way. Assisted by a big cup of Mountain Dew, it seemed a short distance until we pulled into Columbia, MO to visit our friends and sponsors at SoccerPro.com.
SoccerPro.com is an online retailer of soccer shoes, balls, all sorts of equipment and, of course, replica jerseys. As a collector, I was in heaven visiting the warehouse and display are of jerseys. Director of SEO Marketing Matt Wall took Kurt and I on a tour of the building and we met all of the personnel working that day. (Mason of the staff is a big Bayern Munich/Bundesliga fan). It was cool to see the models of shoes that such stars as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Manuel Neuer and Wayne Rooney wear.
A brief Interview with SoccerPro’s Matt Wall WS700010
Another great thing about SoccerPro.com is that everything they have in their online catalog is in stock, so they are usually able to ship the same day as they receive an order. My beautiful Bayern Munich tee was ordered late on a Friday and I received it in my mailbox on Monday morning.
On the Road Again
Following our visit at SoccerPro.com, we grabbed a quick lunch and were on the road again. We arrived in the Kansas City area without a snafu and made our way to the stadium to pick up my press credentials. With those secured, I was escorted to the conference room as the media awaited the opportunity for a brief 15 minute with the American players following practice.
I guess there were about 25 or so media members in the conference rooms. I recognized Grant Wahl, the Sports Illustrated columnist who wrote “The Beckham Experiment” and does such great work, including his writing on the last Africa Cup of Nations. Ives Galarcep of “Soccer by Ives” was also present along with many other media talents. After our wait, we were led onto the field to meet the players.
We lined up along a fence near the goalline as some of the USMNT players approached (many just headed to the dressing room). To see famed internationals such as GK Tim Howard of Everton, Clint Dempsey of Fulham and St. Etienne’s Carlos Bocanegra brought out a bit of the fanboy in me, and it was hard to think or act. The session was brief, and after a few pictures Kurt and we headed to dinner.
Bundesliga Fanatic Party
LIVESTRONG Soccer Park lies on the Kansas side of the Kansas City metro area, and we went to the Yard House restaurant nearby, where we met up with our host, Tim Russell. If you frequent the Bundesliga Fanatic FB page, then you are familiar with Tim, as he posts frequently (and just contributed his first post on the website). Tim is too modest to mention that he is a high-ranking officer in the U.S. Army stationed near KC and has taught at Western Michigan University. His passion for the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich and the USMNT is unsurpassed. Not only a fan, Tim played high school soccer against American international Tab Ramos, played college soccer and played in the lower divisions of German soccer while stationed in Germany.
The Yard House features a huge variety of draft beers, with serving sizes including a yard long glass, and Paulaner and Dos Equis, along with some fine food, was enjoyed by all. Kurt and Tim reminisced about their times in Germany, and the conversation was enjoyable and punctuated with laughter. Two families of fans from western Iowa joined us later, and everyone had a great time.
Photos by Kurt and Gerry….for more pics, see the Bundesliga Fanatic FaceBook page albums for SoccerPro.com and the roadtrip.