We were three of 55,407 soccer fans who decided to converge on Lincoln Financial Field in Philly-- known to the locals as The Linc-- too see USA take on Turkey as part of the World Cup "Send-Off" series.
Turkey didn't make it into the World Cup so they were playing for pride and pride was oozing out of their pores. It took us well into the first half before we realized that the chants of "Turk--ee--ya" was just the three-syllable Turkish pronunciation of Turkey or, as they spell it, "Turkiye." Next Thanksgiving, I'm definitely serving turk--ee-ya for dinner instead of turkey.
The Turks must be so tired of Americans making turkey jokes. Whenever the announcer said, "Turkey substitution" it took everything I had not to yell "chicken" or "tofu."
I couldn't figure out why there were a group of Algerians at the game. Perhaps they were cheering on their Muslim brothers. As we were waiting for the elevator, we saw three Muslim men with their prayer mats laid out, trying to determine the direction of Mecca so they could pray. They stopped two USA fans for help. The one man said, "Well, I was in the army, so I was taught to judge direction by the sun."
Yes, the hatred of Muslims in the country is so pervasive that a former US soldier uses his military training to help a couple of Muslim guys find the direction of Mecca at a soccer game. In Bill Maher's world, this soldier would have dangled the shoeless men over the ledge just for fun.
Of course, my husband's GPS determined that the men were actually looking to the Northwest. But by the time he had determined that they were given bad information, they had already begun their prayers. Oh, well.
In the first half, USA played like dog manure. My brother and I were particularly disgusted with the play of #2. Apparently, so were the other American fans, because, when it was revealed at the start of the second half that he would be leaving the game, everybody cheered.
The second half, USA was a different team. Chants of Turk-ee-ah were quickly drowned out by U-S-A.
Prior to the game, my husband was enjoying a cold over-priced beer while my brother chowed down on an Italian sausage sandwich. They both watched in horror as, somehow, my brother wound up spitting part of his sandwich into the partially consumed brewski. Brother said, "Did that just go in there?" (Husband confirmed that it had indeed. A bank shot!) Then they laughed and laughed. Then my brother bought him another over-priced beer.
I've seen a lot of soccer in my life but this was my first international game. Now, I'm determined to go to World Cup in 2014. It's in Brazil. Hubby just asked, "Can we drive to Brazil?" I think he consumed too many over-priced beers.