Unique Amosphere At Gold Cup Semifinal

A partial power failure left the spectacle and spectators at Soldier Field in a golden glow.
CHICAGO, Ill. - Finally, a half hour before the United States took on Honduras in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals, fans started entering Soldier Field.

In their defense, they weren’t allowed down to the seats until the lightning cleared the area. And it was rush hour in Chicago, with accidents, buses that weren’t running and the usual Thursday afternoon drama. And the fact that President Barack Obama was in town didn’t help things move any faster.

When fans arrived to the stadium, they were met by a $40.00 parking fee and large walk-up lines. While 50,000 tickets had been sold prior to the match, it wasn’t sold out just yet. And those who made arrangements to pick up their tickets at will call, stood in line with the rest of them.

A group of three men posed in front of Soldier Field, wearing their sombreros and asked a tow truck driver to take their picture. The smell of soccer was in the air from the fan zone outside, to those tailgating in the parking lot, to the fans huddled on the concourse.

Once game time drew near, the fans donning national team jerseys, carrying flags and wearing the occasional sombrero, filed into their seats.

As the game kicked off, the crowd got nosier and nosier, despite the rain. It was a lot of noise for a stadium that was obviously about half full. But regardless both teams took the pitch and started the match.

The rain subsided about 25 minutes into the match, while the sun started peeking through the clouds. Fans who had been hiding on the concourse made their way to the seats. And then the noise went up a few decibels.

Both teams struggled to find the net in the first half, but it wasn’t for a lack of chances. Cheers and jeers from the crowd surprisingly just wanted a goal. And amazingly, the mostly international crowd didn’t boo every time an American touched the ball. Although they did cheer a bit louder when Honduras made a run.

In the 45th minute, Stuart Holden sent a corner kick into the box. Clarence Goodson jumped up and headed it in for a 1-0 U.S. lead.

An energetic crowd ended the USA match, with waves and chants, awaiting the second game of the night. A nearly sold-out crowd of 55,173 welcomed Mexico and Costa Rica with loud cheers.

As the night wore on, the fans showed all kinds of emotion. A crowd that was once cheerful, turned a bit bitter when Mexico’s Miguel Sabah missed a penalty kick in the 57th minute. Fans started throwing items on the field, including pelting Costa Rican players on a corner kick. Chants of USA also filled the stands, surprising many people.

Fans started to file out of the stadium, but the faithful stayed to watch Mexico and Costa Rica battle through 120 minutes of play. They stayed to celebrate for a few minutes after Mexico topped Costa Rica in penalty kicks. After that, the last of the 55,000 fans headed for home. Soldier Field emptied out, while the sprinklers turned on. The lights dimmed, with the skyline as bright as ever. And another soccer adventure at Soldier Field came to an end.

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