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#USAvTRI: Pictures from the pitch and thoughts from the stands

What did you think of the Rapids players in #USAvTRI?

Christian Pulisic celebrates after scoring the team’s first goal.
John A. Babiak - @Photog_JohnB

Go ahead and scroll to the end if you just want the pictures.

Abbie Mood:

I can pretty much sum up the game as such:

First half:

Second half: Praise the soccer gods and Hershey, Pennsylvania, for Christian Pulisic

The atmosphere at a national team game is amazing. The troops got a little restless in the first half, but the chanting, the cheering, the standing (expect very little sitting if you ever go to a national team game) - it’s the closest experience to what I’d imagine a European game to be, and I’m sure it doesn’t even scratch the surface.

A couple comments about Colorado Rapids’ players:

Overall, I thought Mekeil Williams played great for Trinidad and Tobago. Playing centerback seemed to be a good fit for him (at least in a 3-back line).

On the US side, I think last night was one of Tim Howard’s worst games. The time he misjudged the ball and let Kenwyne Jones get in front of him - the US was lucky that Jones headed it off the crossbar. We don’t typically see those kinds of mistakes from him. Howard also played a couple of questionable balls, and I’ll give him that the defense put him in a tricky position a couple of times, but overall I think Timmy had an off night (thankfully it doesn’t happen that often).

Rapids Rabbi:

What an experience! There was something very different about a national team game than a club game - even one in similar circumstances, when wins and losses determine going to a playoff or World Cup in either case. Maybe it’s the truncated period of only 10 games in which the team can qualify. Maybe it’s the rarity of having the USMNT in your hometown, since the US men haven’t been here since March 22, 2013 (#SnowClasico). Maybe it’s the patriotism on display; and I mean a specific kind of patriotism. Un-coopted patriotism. Patriotism w/o xenophobia or neo-fascism. Just good folks that love them some America. Maybe it’s seeing the best of the best of the best. Maybe it’s knowing that, for the players, playing for country is the highest calling and the greatest honor possible.

Probably, it’s all of these things.

But also, and I hesitate to write this because if you’re an American soccer fan you’ve already heard this a jillion times...

Maybe it’s Christian Pulisic.

Great googly moogly was he exceptional. He could not be stopped. In midfield, when he got on the ball, Trinidad and Tobago either endeavored to foul him, or collapsed three players on him. He still made things happen. And in the final third he was electric. He played one-twos, he made clean, perfect touches, he elastico’ed the ball around and through defenders - and most importantly, he finished in the back of the net. Twice.

Here’s all you need to know if you were at home: when Pulisic had the ball, time stopped. Everyone in the stadium focused. The hairs on the backs of nineteen thousand necks stood up. You could see it on peoples’ faces. You could hear an audibly perceptible change in the crowd. Quite simply, everyone in the stadium knew they were seeing something rare and beautiful. And we didn’t want it to end.

Photo Gallery

As usual, photographer John A. Babiak was on the pitch capturing the energy of the crowd and some of the best moments from the game.

If you went, what did you think of the Rapids players and the atmosphere?