I am a homebody at heart. I don’t love staying in unfamiliar places for very long, and I hate walking around in those unfamiliar places even more. Still, I love soccer and more than that, I love Real Salt Lake. So, when I went to Boston this weekend, I did so on the promise to myself that my beloved team would get a good result, which was all I needed to hear to take away any anxiety that came from being in an unfamiliar place.
The flight to Boston from Salt Lake City is just under five hours, but the time difference makes it seem a little longer. The city itself is quite lovely, and the stadium that the New England Revolution plays in (Gillette Stadium, also home to the New England Patriots) is enough to make any American soccer fan jealous.
We arrived shortly after midnight on Friday, stayed at an Airbnb just a few minutes from the airport, and spent the most of our Saturday wandering around the city, looking desperately for other RSL fans… or Revs fans… soccer fans… sports fans, even. But nobody revealed themselves.
The trip from Boston to Foxboro seemed longer than the trip from Salt Lake to Boston, and was made slightly worse by the driver we had. “So, are you headed to Patriot’s Place Mall, or why are you going to the stadium? Football season isn’t for a little while, you know,” she said. When we responded that we were going to a soccer game, she lost interest and didn’t say much for the rest of the ride. Once we got to the stadium, I got our tickets and we went in without any trouble from opposing fans. Our section was mostly covered by tarp and was right next to a group of youth soccer teams. “So, you guys shouldn’t run into any problems from the locals unless you have problems with 10-year-olds,” the away supporters representative said in jest. So, we went in.
We started out looking strong despite the surface we were playing on, but that lasted all of four minutes, as you all know. When we went down 2-0, I started to get upset, and by the time we were down 4-0, I had lost all hope of us pulling out any kind of positive result. During half time, the six or seven 10-year olds we weren’t supposed to have problems with came and started taunting us and taking pictures of each other holding New England scarves, with us in the background. It was hard not to smile a little, but the rain was coming down and there was shelter under the section we were in front of, so we moved and stood under the tarp for the rest of the game.
After the game, we went down to the tunnel to say hello to the players who could barely lift their heads or give a wave. We met Aaron Maund’s family, who were grateful to know we came from Salt Lake to see their son play, and stand as some of the friendliest people we interacted with on our trip. I am still a homebody at heart. While I am still not a fan of being in an unfamiliar place for too long, I loved Boston; and while I still love Real Salt Lake, I hated that result. As he was coming off the field to the sound of our cheers, RSL coach Mike Petke looked over to us, smiled weakly, and said, “I promise we will get better, guys.” This was all we needed to hear to take away the heartache of yet another loss.