Ladies and gentleman, Jamie's Journal is back! I know it's been a while since the last installment, so we have quite a bit of catching up to do. It was awesome to see how many emails I received from everyone out there telling me they missed the journal and that I had to update it soon or else. So here it goes: I'm back with a very event-filled journal today with what seems to be a million different things going on right now, so it's been hard finding some time to put everything down on paper. I'm feeling very talkative today so like it or not, this journal is going to have quite a bit of opinion and a lot of my thoughts are going to be the main focus of this week's entry along with some of the latest updates. So kick back, and get ready to get a little insight into what all has been going on in what has seemed to be a whirlwind last two weeks.
You Call The Shots...
We have a winner! Drumroll please ... (Enter the Loyalists with their 50 million drums and beats here). The winner of "your experience at the home opener" is Ben Bloodworth! Thanks to the 40 some-odd entries we had, and I wish we could pick more than one winner, but this one stole the show so much that I had to declare this the outright winner. Ben will be receiving a Real Salt Lake prize pack which includes, among other cool RSL gear, 4 VIP tickets to this weekend's game versus the Chicago Fire. Congrats Ben and thanks to everyone who sent in their experiences. Upset you didn't win this time? Well, keep checking in for the next contest as you know I always have something up my sleeve. Take it away Ben ...
April 16th, 2005 in Salt Lake City was a perfect day for soccer. It was 70 degrees with a slight breeze, sunny and clear. There were about as many clouds in the sky as there were Rapids fans in the stands - almost none. But more palpable than the temperature of the air was the feeling in the air. I had been to professional soccer games before, including the U.S. Men's national team and Olympic medal matches, but had never felt electricity in the air like I did that day. The number of fans present as well as their obvious commitment to the home team just blew me away. And you could feel the loyalty and support all around you. This was destined to be a special day.
And the game was intense, like a rivalry that was decades old rather than an inaugural confrontation. Colorado definitely had the better of the play early, stringing together really nice passes and making well-timed runs. Real seemed to lack a midfield and kept sending balls over the top that just did not find their target. But as the half went on, the teams evened out and both had nice opportunities and equally nice defensive stops. And the fans seemed to recognize all of the good and the bad, alternately cheering and booing at all the right times. Are we sure this was the first Real Salt Lake home game? Everyone acted as if they had been cheering for years. It was awesome!
Then with less than 10 minutes left in the game, it happened. An announcement came over the speakers that attendance was 25,287, and the stadium erupted in cheers. As this announcement came, a foul was called on the field and Clint Mathis set up to send the ball into the 18-yard box. Then, as the lingering cheers from the crowd buoyed it up, the ball sailed into the middle. Mathis put it just into the box where it took a bounce and found the head of a diving Brian Dunseth, who buried it in the back of the net. And the old saying "the crowd went wild", perfectly described the scene. That moment was (and always will be) one of my most memorable sports moments, because it transcended the moment. As Dunseth ran to the corner, lifted the flag, and planted it back in the ground, the entire stadium was jubilant. Everyone was on their feet, screaming, yelling, shouting, cheering, whistling, high-fiving, hugging, and doing anything and everything that could be in any way related to massive celebration. There was a unity of spirit among tens-of-thousands of people, who were mostly strangers to one another. Yet for that moment, in celebration of the first ever home goal for Real Salt Lake, while everyone watched the players enjoy scoring their first goal in front of a home crowd, we were one. We were Real. In that moment, I got chills all over. A single man in a crowd of thousands cheering on 11 men on the field, yet I felt a part of something too big to describe. I was there. In that incredible inaugural moment, I was there. I was part of something amazing, and I will always remember the chills I got on that warm spring day. A perfect day for soccer.
Catching you up to speed...
As I'm sure you already know, the schedule has not been very forgiving as of late for us Real Salt Lake players. Even the reserves have been going non-stop as of late, playing three games in the past few weeks in Seattle, Park City, Utah and all the way in Columbus, Ohio. Three games in two weeks may not seem like a lot, but when you get to be the age of some of the guys on our team, it takes a huge toll on your body. (That's for all the young jokes you older vets give me day in and day out.) Our trip to Seattle was fun off the field, but on the field it wasn't quite as fun. I'm not one to publicly say how bad referees are, but this takes the cake. There have been some shockers this year, but this guy takes the cake. Although I haven't been able to confirm these rumors, I have heard this guy was the referee of the year for the Seattle girls 6-and-under youth soccer association. I think this might have been the worst I have ever seen. I'm not taking away from the Seattle Sounders, who played a good game while we were having an off-night, but had the referee been somewhat decent, the game may have turned out a little different.
Anyway, after that was a rematch with the L.A. Galaxy reserves at home. After shutting down Landon Donovan and the rest of his teammates all night and keeping our undefeated record at home alive, we played their very experienced reserve team the next day. It was a close match with a lot of exciting action, but they ended up coming out on top 3-1. Many thanks go out to the close to 500 people that showed up in Park City to catch the reserve game. Sorry we couldn't pull a win out for you guys, but we really appreciate y'all coming. During the week the first team had a game against Chivas USA at Rice-Eccles Stadium and put on a clinic with a convincing 2-0 win. Yes, yes, this is when I'm going to take the time to write how excited I was to get in.
As some of you may know, I finally got my first taste of first team action, coming on late in the game as a substitute for Seth Trembly. (What a game Seth had by the way, right?) I was so excited getting the call from coach to go in that I almost forgot to put on my shin guards before going on the field. The most memorable part of the night was for sure hearing all you guys who made it out to the game that night cheer so loud when I got in. My good friend Juliana, die-hard member of the Loyalists and a really nice lady, emailed me the next day and told me I even had my very own chant from the crowd! How flippin' sweet is that?!?! Anyway, in the short time I was on the field I got the ball once and was able to win a corner kick in the dying moments of the game to give our defense a rest while wasting some time off the clock. Had it not been for equipment manager Braden Chandler telling us we couldn't trade our jerseys after the game since he needed them for the weekend, I would have given the 12,500-plus in attendance a mini strip-tease and taken off my jersey and thrown it in the crowd. I promise the jersey throwing post-game show will come in due time, just please don't take too many pictures of me half naked. Ok, I'll go back to being PG and finish up with the trip to Columbus. The trip didn't go quiet as well as planned, as the first team dropped a 2-0 result Saturday night and the reserves lost 5-2 the following morning. Props to Dante Washington for getting his first goal for RSL Sunday morning versus the Crew as he came on with less than 15 minutes to go and calmly finished his first shot in the upper left corner for our second goal of the game. So there you go; that's been our playing schedule for the past few weeks. It's been a busy one, and surely an unforgettable one for this guy behind the computer screen.
Growing together as a family...
In preseason we all bonded and formed new friendships together as we first started getting to know each other. What has happened since then has been more than I ever could have expected. Since the season has started and guys are settled in now around town and gotten close with one another, our new friendships have turned into more of a brother-to-brother relationship. Sure there are times we argue and fight like brothers, but I can genuinely say each guy on the team loves one another like a brother, and this has started to carry over onto the field. Our play has picked up tremendously and picking up six out of nine points in three games in one week's time just goes to show how much of a team we really are.
Off the field things are great too. We even had a barbecue thrown by DJ's parents and sister Christa a few weeks back in Park City to go along with quite a few team outings to various places in Salt Lake City with groups of 10 or 12 guys. Here's another case in point: Eddie Pope and I had a conversation on the way from Salt Lake to Dallas and Dallas to Columbus. What was the conversation about you may ask? Well, I had gone to Eddie for some big brother advice on girls. Yes, even though I may seem overly confident on the field, off the field, and with girls especially, I need some advice from time to time. Eddie and I have gotten to be good friends since we sit next to each other in the locker room (No. 22 and No. 23). I had a seat next to him on the plane, and he could see I was a little down and not my usual outgoing self. This is when it hit me we were really becoming a close knit group because he took the time to hear me out with my girl troubles and offered his advice with his experiences through his lifetime. I won't get into my love life as I'm sure some of you may be eating lunch and don't want to lose your appetite, but I was just having a hard time getting over this girl I cared a lot about who doesn't exactly feel the same anymore, and Eddie gave me his advice on what to do, how to handle it, and what he would do if it was him in my shoes.
This may seem petty to some, but when a 10-year veteran listens to a rookie for over an hour and a half and then goes out of his way to help that rookie out, caring enough to make sure he keeps his head and tells him how to keep his focus during hard times, it goes to show the character of our team is there and guys are willing to go above and beyond for each other. If we keep growing off the field like this, it's going to carrying over to on the field and we're going to reap the benefits.
Radio interviews left and right...
Before I came to Salt Lake City, I had never been to an actual radio station let alone done interviews on-air before. Since being here, all that has changed dramatically. My first big time on-air came with Spencer Checketts of the front office and Scott Gerrard on their weekend show. Spencer gets the biggest shout-out of all time for having me in for close to 30 minutes on their show (Saturdays from 12 to 2 p.m. MT on 1280 The Zone; listen to it, they are hilarious!) This was a lot of fun because we talked about soccer, basketball, and what it's like being here compared to Dallas. These guys do an awesome job with their show and always have cool guests like me each week, so check them out!
Also, Brian Dunseth and I and the 97.1 ZHT Morning crew (Frankie, Danger Boy and Holly) always go on the week of home games, usually Friday morning at 8 a.m., just to chat about the game and any and everything else. We have a good laugh most of the time and it's always a lot of fun hanging with them. These guys are absolutely crazy and are a lot of fun. Dunseth also has a loyal fan named Nina who drops by the studio each time were in just to bat her eyes at him and score a Dunseth hug or two.
Finally, last week the boys at U92 had me come in and co-host the top 8 at 8. That was so much fun because I'm a big fan of rap music and this is my favorite station to bump in my ride. (It helps that I have two 12' inch speakers that the guys give me stick for, but hey you're only 19 once so I might as well pimp my ride out, right?) Brian Michael and those guys out at U92 are awesome, and it was cool to spend some time guest DJ'ing for a night. By the way I predicted a 2-0 win over the Galaxy on-air the Thursday night before our game vs. L.A. (close to the 2-1 final). I may have found our new good luck charm before each game.
Feature Player of the Day:
All you dads out there, get your nine-year-old daughters away from the screen ASAP. Our feature player of the day is little-girl heartthrob Rusty Pierce! Not only is Rusty a fearless defender, he is a great guy off the field, and he took the time to sit down with me in my makeshift office (Row 7 seat A on flight # 1622) on the way back from Columbus to give all of you out their your fix of the Feature Player of the Day.
How did you first get involved with soccer?
Rusty Pierce: My older brother rolled me a soccer ball when I was six-years old in our driveway and I went to pick it up with my hands and he told me I wasn't allowed to pick it up.
If you weren't a professional soccer player, what would you be doing?
RP: Racing Formula 1 cars
Describe yourself in one word.
RP: (laughs for a solid five seconds) Passionate
How would your teammates describe you?
Favorite American soccer player and favorite non-American soccer player
RP: American: Chris Armas; non-American: Edgar Davids
What is something most people don't know about you?
RP: I'm a very religious person. I am a very strong Christian
What are your impressions of the fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium?
RP: The best in the league. By far the most knowledgeable and passionate fans in the league.
Proudest moment of your life off the field?
RP: Proposing to my wife in Texas and having both of our families celebrate with us after the proposal.
Best player you have ever played against, besides me:
RP: Besides you ... (long, long pause) Hristo Stoichkov
What CD do you have in your car CD player?
RP: Matchbox 20
Best fast food joint
RP: McLaren ... but soon my Jeep will be right up there after the guys at Powerplay Performance in Ogden turn my Jeep into the ultimate off-roading vehicle!
Favorite actor and actress
RP: I can't remember his name ... umm, Owen Wilson and actress is Meg Ryan
RP: comical (thanks for being nice Rusty)
Wayne and Garth or Beavis and Butt-Head
RP: Wayne and Garth
Cookie dough or Cookies' n' cream
RP: Bluebell Cookies' n' Cream ... nothing beats Bluebell Cookies' n' Cream
Dogs or cats
RP: Dog (Milo is Rusty's Siberian husky)
English Premier League or La Liga (Spanish top division)
RP: English Premier League
N*SYNC or Backstreet Boys
RP: Oh my gosh! Are you kidding me? Umm ... N*Sync. That's the one with Justin Timberlake right? (Jamie's note: I'm shocked he answered this)
Jessica Simpson or Jennifer Lopez
RP: Jessica Simpson
American Idol or Survivor
RP: American Idol, We're watching it right now ... Me and my wife Elizabeth both want Bo to win.
There you go. For all you nine-year-old semi-stalkers out there, you now know everything there is possible to know about Real Salt Lake stud, Rusty Pierce!
As always, thanks for reading along and taking the time each week to read Jamie's Journal. Your thoughts count and even determine what, or who, is talked about each week, so feel free to email me at Jamie@realsaltlake.com and thanks a lot to those of you who took the time to say congrats on my official debut for Real Salt Lake. That's all for today. As Kip Dynamite would say: "Peace out!"