Posted by: chriswode | June 23, 2014

Belgium vs Russia and USA on Copacabana

Day 2 in Rio was to be a big and eventful one starting with going to the 1pm Belgium vs Russia game at the iconic Maracana and then the huge USA vs Portugal game at 7pm. We opted to catch cabs to Ipanema to ride the metro to the stadium which worked out great and was plenty of fun. Along the way in our packed railcar were plenty of chants and heckles as usual, especially as our group of 19 took up half of it. The best moment was when 4 Scandinavian guys in their 20s ended up standing next to us and of course Erik said something in Norwegian to them to which they responded excitedly…during the back and forth the best chant of the trip went out in full voice by most of us…”Erik found his children…Erik found his children!” They found it funny too and we had some laughs about them asking their new “dad” for money for beers and if they were moving to live in Manhattan Beach with him. We got a pic of course.

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Erik and his “children”

At the stadium it was a sea of people as the Maracana is almost twice as big as Arena Fonte Nova, holding over 80,000. Once inside our seats were not as good as in Salvador but it was a great atmosphere and a joy to be at. Belgium and Russia fans were in full voice and the Brazilians had their moments to take over the singing and definitely the country most-represented next was the USA with many fans in their stars and stripes gear ready for the game later. The game wasnt the best as both teams slogged it out with sloppy play and little inventiveness, even drawing whistles from the crowd many times. But finally Belgium turned it on late and got a nice goal to win it.

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Train exit to Maracana

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Smart directing traffic

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Joe-Anna and Tara inside the Maracana

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Smarts at Maracana for Belgium vs France

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The Braintrust…and Erik

Back on the metro to Ipanema where the plan was to watch the USA/Portugal game at the Fan Fest on Copacabana Beach. I had just mentioned to someone that I found it strange that I had not seen someone I know yet during the trip…and boom, just as we were about to enter the Fan Fest I hear Alex call out to someone who had his back turned to us…I looked and recognized him and said, “Mike”. Friend of mine Mike Gartlan who represents a few players on the US team and had coached Alex as a kid.  He was down by himself and hung out with us the rest of the night.

IMG_2237The Fan Fest was awesome of course…big area with vendors and entertainment and the huge screen at the front. We made our way forward finally getting nice and close to see the 2nd half of the Algeria vs South Korea game and be in a prime spot for the US game. Between game entertainment was off the charts with great music and dancers getting the crowd energized and pumped. It made it easier on the nerves waiting that hour to enjoy beers on the beach and singing and dancing. We had a full crew with our 20 plus Laird who met up with us. Finally the US game started and the crowd was dominated by US fans chanting and singing. The Portugal goal didnt set the crowd back too much as the US starting playing well, the best we did all tournament. And the tying goal set off an explosion of cheers and jumping. The go-ahead goal by Dempsey sent us into delirium. It was about the be the greatest moment of the trip, soaking up the excitement on the sand of Copababana, on a gorgeous evening with thousands of other US fans…and then the disaster happened. Portugal’s tying goal with no time left was like a giant pin popping the Goodyear blimp. Faces showed shock and disbelief as we trudged our way out of the Fan Fest and down the beach. What probably would have been the craziest party night of the trip turned into a more relaxed time at a cool outside beach hut/restaurant with dinner and drinks before various people heading back to the house for a restful evening before heading out to Buzios in the morning. Oh what could have been…

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Rio Fan Fest epic

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Rio Fan Fest!

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with Mike Gartlan

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Brasilian wanted a US jersey…before the game

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Jerseys Exchanged

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USA vs Portugal

getting ready for USA vs Portugal

getting ready for USA vs Portugal

Smart loves the music

Smart loves the music

Photo Jun 22, 4 03 03 PM

USA vs Portugal on the beach

USA vs Portugal on the beach

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