Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Typhoon soccer

I was joking when I said we would be the only people in the stands, but it was practically true. The stadium seats something like 30,000, and the announced attendance was 6000—and that seemed inflated. I could see almost as many security personnel as spectators. There were at least as many Nigeria fans as US boosters, which was a little strange. I snapped a picture of the U.S. team trudging towards the locker room at the end of the game, and they don’t look like a team that has just won a big game and advanced to the next round of the World Cup. They look angry and wet. I think we’re all ready for the rain to stop. I know I’m tired of being wet and I don’t need to see my bright red poncho ever again. When Pipi and I got back to our hotel after the game, the doorman observed that the two of us were “hen lihai”—very hard-core. We definitely felt like two of the most dedicated fans right then.

We didn’t do a whole lot today, partly because it is so wet. We did walk around quite a bit this morning during a break in the weather. I’m really starting to like the neighborhood we’re in. It’s called Lu Wan, and in English is usually referred to as the French Concession. It’s the neighborhood that in the heyday of Western colonialism in Shanghai was home to a huge French expatriate population. I remember visiting this neighborhood in 1992 and being disappointed. I think I expected people in berets eating croissants on every corner. I wanted to eat buttery pastry and speak a language that I’m comfortable with. The French influence is a lot more subtle than that, but it’s there. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the buildings are made of brick, not the ubiquitous Chinese white tile, and the streets are laid out in an orderly manner, and lined with more trees than you usually see in a Chinese city. I will try to post a few photos, but it’s been so wet I haven’t taken many yet.

The biggest excitement of the day was at dinner. We went to a pseudo Irish pub because we thought they might be showing the China/New Zealand game on TV. As it turns out, that game got rained out, so no televised soccer for us. But that was okay because THEUSWOMENSTEAMWASRIGHTTHEREINTHEBARWITHUS!!!

Sorry; I get excited just thinking about it. What I meant was, the U.S. women’s team was there at the bar, too! Not all of the women, but about half of them, including the big stars, Abby Wambach and Kristine Lilly. It was so exciting we literally didn’t know what to do with ourselves. We wanted to be gushing fans, of course, but they also seemed to be trying to have a normal dinner with friends and family—it looked like both Lilly and Wambach had their parents in tow—and we didn’t want to be rude. So we didn’t get autographs, but we did gain the story of how we watched a soccer game in a typhoon and then the next day got to eat hamburgers in Shanghai with the stars of the game.
Here are some photos.

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