Kheli Dube REVS it up @ Gillette
Posted by athomeatfenway on August 25, 2009
I was on a mission to become soccer savvy.
My day job required that I study the New England Revolution, question being how to bring more Soccer Fans from their homes in Connecticut to see the Rev, a mere 60 to 90 minute drive away.
I wanted, as Jimi might say in this August of Woodstock reprised, to become experienced.
The drive from Hartford was easy. I-84 to Rt. 90 to Rt. 495. Check.
The ambiance was immediately festive. 500 were tailgating in the West parking lot with shade, grills and chilled drinks. Check.
The crowd was small but enthusiastic. 12,000 fans. Still better than a Pittsburgh Pirates or a KC Royals home game. Check.
Crowd demos as expected. 30% manic young soccer dudes. 70% families with kids under 12. Check.
Here we were at beautiful, shiny Gillette Stadium, which is literally adjacent to a giant Bass Pro Shop, el grande Christmas Tree Shop, a new Renaissance hotel, a hospital, a multi-screen movie theater, and the bars, shops and restaurants of Patriot Place.
Settling into my seat in row 3, sec. 108, behind the REV bench, I felt the optimistic mood of eternal youth that summer brings. Scented sun block wafted everywhere. The sun melted the well-tanned Mom seated in front of me. Everyone grooved to an unknown techo rapper. We watched warm ups, and faded blissfully into one mass of soccer-loving humanity.
The 22 oz. Sam Adams didn’t hurt, either.
The REVS did crazy footwork warm ups that looked exhausting before the game, a game in which the players would run unabatedly for two 45 minute periods with only 3 TOTAL substitutions.
The fellow seated next to me, a soccer veteran named Jason, explained that without the intense warm ups, the players would tank 15 minutes into the game. The warm ups crank the release of endorphins that would tide them until they could slip into a freezing halftime ice-bath.
What does Jason like about Soccer ?
“It’s AWESOME”, said the 26-year-old Dad from Somerville. “Other Sports have athletes that are specialized. Kickers in the NFL. Relief pitchers and Designated Hitters in Baseball. Soccer Players are much better athletes. They play the entire 90 minutes. And after you watch Soccer for a while, you start to appreciate how they play together, you see the entire field and understand how a play is supposed to evolve, where the passes should go. When the play works, it is fantastic. When it fails, it’s like seeing a flower stepped on.”
Nine minutes into the game, the Rev scored. Lightening fast, a defensive midfielder stole, passed to a striker who almost goaled, and then REV #11, Kheli Dube, stole and goaled in a heart-racing split second.
The crowd exploded. Fireworks erupted. New England militia men in 3-cornered hats fired their black powder muskets. It was T-H-U-N-D-E-R-O-U-S.
Kheli Dube, formerly of Zimbabwe, gave the crowd a remarkable treat this day. He scored at 9 minutes, 29 minutes, and 66 minutes, pulling off a rare soccer hat trick.
Jason said we were getting our money’s worth.
Kheli Dube is a star on the rise. Quick and skillful, he was a scoring leader scorer at Coastal Carolina. He’s a diaper dandy, in just his second professional season. In 2008, he led all MLS rookies in goals and assists. After all five of his goals in 2008, he conducted a traditional Zulu dance toward the closest corner flag. After performing the dance for the first time, he noted that it was an homage to his mother’s South African roots, the Zulu tribe’s homeland. Dube was one of three finalists for 2008 MLS Gatorade Rookie of the Year
I learned a few things this day. “A breakaway is the equivalent of a haymaker.”
I heard some new expressions. “You’re a traffic cone, a traffic cone !!!”
I puzzled over the eccentricities. “The officials have determined that 4 minutes will be added to the first period.”
And, at one point, my eyes popped over the unthinkable, when I saw that the game clock runs backwards.
Near the end of the game, I walked to the top of the lower bowl, a coveted seating section in Gillette that most of us will never access during a Patriots game, and headed to the Sam Adams stand where I bought my beer. The stand was manned by the same two attractive ladies who had told me 30 minutes before the game that I was their “first and best” beer customer of the day. Before I could reach their kiosk, one of these gals sprinted up to me and apologized for putting too much of a head on the beer they sold me earlier. She asked me if I still had my cup, because she would make up for the bad pour with a freebie.
Great customer service. $20, $30 & $40 tickets. Wonderful sporting experience. Home team on a streak. A rare hat trick. Fireworks. Black powder musket fire.
What more could you want ?
Jason recommends that you watch international Soccer action on http://www.eplmatches.com
The REVS next home game is Saturday, August 29 vs. the San Jose Earthquakes.
For tickets or more information, go to http://www.revolutionsoccer.net