Yes everyone, another long-awaited issue of Jamie's Journal is here and the reason for the time span between our last entry and now is due to the fact that we had so much going on prior to our home opener that I wanted to wait until everything concluded and things slowed down so I could get all of y'all up to date. I think a big thank you is in order to everyone who helped make "Real Week" possible, from the front office people behind the scenes all the way up the food chain to Utah Gov. John Huntsman, Jr., and Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, who kicked off "Real Week" by giving a speech with RSL CEO Dean Howes, General Manager Steve Pastorino, head coach John Ellinger, Jason Kreis and Clint Mathis. Since the start of last week, there has been something going on every day of the week, so I'll do my best to wrap up an amazing week in just a few short paragraphs. So here we go with today's journal...
"You Call The Shots" I am very happy to report to you that the total e-mail amount in my mailbox has just surpassed the 100 mark! Not only is this exciting because I had hoped on maybe getting close to 20 e-mails, but it is exciting because with those 100 plus e-mails, Jamie's Journal has become twice the journal it was when we first started, so to the guys and gals who take the time to send me their thoughts, keep up the good work.
Another way to say thank you is by having a little contest for you. A pretty sweet prize that will remain anonymous just to heighten the suspense is headed your way to the reader who sends me their best memory/memories from last weekend's home opener versus the Colorado Rapids (any pictures included could make their way onto the page in the next Jamie's Journal) and will have their story shared with fellow readers. There is no boundaries on this so take it and have fun with it, but the main thing is hearing what your experiences were, and I'm going to reward you with a very attractive prize package and feature YOU in the next Jamie's Journal. Email Jamie@realsaltlake.com to enter and let the creative writing side of you go and have fun with this. Best of luck everyone!
Whirl Wind of a Week
As promised, I am going to do my best to wrap up this past week with a few comments about each event and the best way to do that is by starting from the beginning.
Monday April 11, 2005
This day was the official start of "Real Week." As noted before, Howes, Pastorino, Ellinger, Kreis, and Mathis attend a ceremony highlighted with a speech from Gov. Huntsman and Mayor Anderson announcing the different festivities that would take place during the week leading up to the first home game in Real Salt lake history. Overall it was a very nice ceremony and a great way to kick off (lame pun, I know) the week.
Tuesday April 12, 2005
Tuesday was highlighted by a "Kick-0ff" Luncheon in conjunction with the United Way of Salt Lake that included everyone from the team and had all of us sitting with season ticket holders, people from the soccer community and people from the business community. RSL Owner David W. Checketts was the keynote speaker of the day and he gave a great speech about what owning this team means to him and wrapped up a well put together luncheon. There was a silent auction held during the luncheon with proceeds benefiting The United Way. Normally, luncheons are a drag and not so much fun, but this one was different due to the fact we players got to sit at each table and just talk with everyone about everything from soccer related stuff to just everyday life things. Day two of "Real Week" goes down in the books as a huge success.
Wednesday April 13, 2005
Wednesday's event was a first for me, as well as for many others on the team. We were invited to the premiere of "The Game of The Lives," which is the story of the 1950 U.S. World Cup team that overcame the odds to beat powerhouse England 1-0. This wasn't just about showing up to the movie theater at show time and that's that. No, no my friend, we decided to go big time with this event. About an hour before show time, we all met up at the RSL office and hopped into not one, not two, but three stretch limos to roll up to the movie theater in style. With all of us decked out in our best attire, we were welcomed by fans yelling and screaming and taking pictures along the red carpet that had been laid out for us to walk on, with each of us getting our own personal time in front of the fans. We had reserved seating in the theater and were joined by over 100 fans to watch the premiere, which was only released in certain cities throughout the U.S. While waiting for the movie to start, a local U-9 girls team sitting in front of us kept turning around and giggling amongst themselves while pointing at certain players (not naming any names ... cough ... Rusty Pierce ... cough) I'm not sure what gave it away, but it must have been the "One, two, three ... we love you Rusty!" cheer they belted out. Anyway, the movie was great, and we signed a few autographs afterwards for the fans who came out to support us and the movie. The night ended in style with a limo ride out back to the office.
Thursday April 14, 2005
Thursday was a day off from all the exciting happenings as we focused on training and getting ready for the game on Saturday versus the Colorado Rapids.
Friday April 15, 2005
Friday started off early! And by early I mean I was at Rice-Eccles Stadium at 6:30 a.m. No, training did not start at 6:30 a.m., but Allie Mac Kay and the KUTV Channel 2 news team dedicated the morning show to us and had myself, Brian Dunseth, Andy Williams, and Coach E all making appearances throughout the morning. The news pieces went great and were very funny, and I also think we might have found a love connection between Allie and our very own Brian Dunseth. (Scroll down to Tuesday April 19, 2005 for more on this one.)
Later on that evening our Supporters Club "The Loyalists" held a pep rally where they went over various issues including what time to show up, and they learned some new chants, and just hung out before the big day. I got a chance to go hang with everyone there for a few hours and I had a blast. Even though they put me on the spot and made me do a speech (I'm much better behind a computer where I can hide than in front of a large group) and answer a few questions, the night was a huge success and everyone was just so nice. The Loyalists may not get the credit they deserve, but they were extremely noticeable with the singing and beating of the drums throughout the game Saturday. (Don't feel left out all you other 25,287 fans that showed up, I think SLC registered a 4.9 on the Richter scale when Dunseth scored on the header and y'all erupted.) Anyway, the pep rally was fun and all was well heading into the big day, the day that had been nine months in the making.
Saturday April 16, 2005
Steven Spielberg could not have scripted it any better than how Saturday went. It was an absolutely gorgeous day outside, not a cloud in the sky, and Major League Soccer was ready to kick off in Utah for the first time ever. With a lot of people crossing their fingers that the day would go off as smooth as imagined, I think every one of those people by the end of the day thought to themselves they never could have imagined in being that good. With an intense rivalry underway, the game went back and forth and went 0-0 into halftime. With just under 10 minutes to play, as the attendance was being announced and the cheers erupted, Clint Mathis whipped in a free kick that found the head of a flying Brian Dunseth and gave us a 1-0 lead, which ended up being the final score.
One of the best parts about the record 25,287 fans who were there was the soccer intelligence that everyone seemed to have. With applause and cheering for crucial tackles and goal-line clearances, it seemed as thought everyone in attendance had been to millions of soccer games, and knew when to cheer, when to boo (when Clint got that yellow card) and when to get behind us to give us that edge to pull out a win. From a player's perspective that was very much appreciated. So a big "Thank you" times 25,287 is in order, and thank you to all of you checking out the game on ESPN2.
After the first team match, the reserves had a hard-fought game of their own that ended in a 2-2 tie but included some very excited end-to-end action that was seen in front of about 500 fans who stayed after the first game to catch the doubleheader. After giving up an early goal, 9-foot-10 (OK, 6-3, but it's not too far off from 9-10) Matt Behncke rose above everyone and headed in a corner to level the score right before halftime.
We dominated the second half, but unfortunately after going up on a Kenny Cutler goal, Colorado was able to save a tie by stealing a late goal and hanging on for one point. Overall the day was a huge success and a day that everyone who has had a part of Real Salt Lake from the beginning to now will never forget.
Saturday night concluded with an after-party thrown at the Skybox by Mr. Checketts, and it was a blast. Everyone was in a good mood and the entertainment that night was awesome. My personal highlight of the night was getting to meet and have dinner with ESPN2 play-by-play commentator JP Dellacamra and ESPN2 sideline reporter Heather Mitts. (Yes, the gorgeous announcer on the sidelines that you saw throughout the game.) They invited me to have a seat with them and I accepted their invitation while trying to play it cool at the same time and just had a good time hanging out with the people I have been watching on TV for years. To all the guys out there wondering whether or not she's that good looking in person, the answer is no, she's much better looking. (Ladies, this is the equivalent of meeting say Andy Roddick on the street somewhere and getting to take a picture with him or something along those lines.) After dinner we played in the arcade area for a while and after a challenge from Heather that she could beat me in basketball, I calmly took 2 out of 3 games and showed her just why I was a starter on my 8th grade middle school basketball "B" team. Ok, enough drooling over her; the party was a great time, the game was great, the whole day was one I will never forget.
Sunday April 17, 2005
Sunday was the player's day off, and everyone used it to recover from the game the day before.
Monday April 18, 2005
Monday was a light practice with several guys playing soccer tennis and some guys shooting on goalkeepers Jay Nolly and Noah Palmer. Nothing real exciting, just a typical Monday morning practice after a Saturday game, just to get the legs going again.
Tuesday April 19, 2005
This is where the Brian Dunseth and Allie Mac Kay love connection rekindled. See, Brian and I were asked to go into the 97.1 FM radio station this morning and do a short on-air interview. All was going well until the issue of Brian being a "dreamboat," as someone in the room described him, prompted me to tell the story about Allie and Brian hitting it off during our recent TV interview with KUTV Channel 2. What no one knew was that "DB", one of the on-air radio personalities with us, is one of Allie's friends. So Allie sends DB a text message saying "Give Brian my number and tell him hey for me!" So this gets read out on-air to all the listeners making their morning commute to work and causes Brian to turn beat red. Anyway, I think we're still a few dates away from them being "Happily Ever After," but I will take some responsibility of being a true "Wingman" by making the comment that lead to Brian getting her number. (I'm totally blowing this whole love connection thing out of proportion, but I have the liberty to do that, so I am going to take full advantage of making a bigger scene than what may really be. But thanks for the daytime soap opera-ish romantic love story, Brian.)
That pretty much sums up this past week for all of us. I tried my best to get it all for you, and I hope you guys shared a few laughs and recalled a few memories during this time of reflection on the unforgettable week we just had. Sorry there is no feature player of the day in this issue, but I'm pretty sure all you reading along are tired of reading what I have to say and don't want this to drag on any longer, so we'll leave it up to you to decide who's next by sending an email to Jamie@realsaltlake.com! Take care everyone!