For a while now, my bucket list has consisted entirely of watching RSL play in every MLS stadium. The following are my notes from my most recent trip, Chicago.
The flight from Salt Lake International Airport to O’Hare International airport is about 2.5 hours. Flying Delta, we were treated with complimentary snacks and a movie if we chose to watch one. The selection featured new films like “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and “La La Land.” I tried to strike up a conversation with the man sitting next to me, but he seemed disinterested in the only topic I had at my disposal. “What is a Real Salt Lake?” he asked, and instead of laying out a historically accurate timeline of soccer, MLS, and RSL, I said it was a type of flower and let him continue watching his movie.
As I mentioned earlier, the flight to O’Hare was about 2.5 hours and since the idea that a city could have more than one airport, it took my wife and I about an hour and a half to get from that airport to our hotel, which was by the Chicago Midway Airport. We navigated our way to where our Uber was supposed to pick us up, and figured that all would be well as long as we got to the hotel safely. Shortly after our Uber driver got off her cell phone, but just before straddling a lane she was trying to merge into, she struck up a conversation with us—“This one time, I was hanging out downtown when four men started chasing me down the street! I thought I was going to die, but I turned a corner really fast and hid! I told myself, ‘don’t sneeze or else you will die!’ and I sat for 20 minutes before they left! They thought I had disappeared! I tell you, it was crazy! So, where are you guys from?”
“Uh… Salt Lake…”
“And then this other time, I was at my friend’s house when I heard yelling outside! I went to see what was going on and saw a guy shoot a girl three times! I tell you, it was crazy! What brings you to Chicago?”
“Uh… Real Salt Lake plays the Chicago Fire tomorrow afternoon. We came to see the game.”
After we got to the hotel, we decided to take an Uberinto the city and see some of the sights before eating dinner and turning in. I noticed that the driver had decals for the Bulls, Blackhawks, White Sox, Cubs, and Bears and I asked him, “So, where is the Chicago Fire Decal?” He mentioned that he couldn’t find one and I thought it was a bunch of bologna… Until I looked in every sports store I could find and drowned in “World Series Champions” gear.
It didn’t make a lot of sense that there wasn’t more Chicago Fire gear or fans anywhere in the city, but as we got closer to the stadium, I saw why. Further out of the city than the RioT is to downtown Salt Lake, it looked slightly out of place. Temperatures fell below “freezing my ass off” shortly after kick off and after the Fire scored the second goal, I was officially miserable and didn’t even want to be there. Still, we hung on and hoped for a goal from RSL that never came. After the match, we ran into a handsome looking guy and I walked up to him slowly and very creepily asking, “Uhhh…. Is your name Mike?” We went back to our hotel resembling something a little more than sad popsicles.
On our way back to the hotel, the Uber driver struck up a conversation with us using the only topic of conversation he had at his disposal. “So, uh. What exactly is going on here?” We informed him that we had flown from Salt Lake City to see our team, Real Salt Lake, take on the Chicago Fire. “What sport is Chicago Fire?” he asked, actually interested in learning more about the city he called home. And instead of laying out a historically accurate timeline of soccer, MLS, and the Chicago Fire, I said “soccer” and let him continue putting more distance between that god-forsaken loss and us.