1 June - World Cup Qualifier...USA! USA!

I love train rides into Chicago, listening to the conductor count down the cities until Union Station. It gives me a chance to just exist ...to think, to relax, to observe strangers, finish putting on makeup, to return phone calls or nap. Today’s destination: Soldier Field.

I met a wonderful man with a zest for life along the way. He was my cab driver Mohammed. We chatted for at least a half hour about what brought him here from Kenya. Opportunity. The dream of America. He told me of his twin brother in Seattle and his Business Administration studies in the States. He decided to be a cab driver not only because of the obvious flexibility in hours (time for studying), but because he loved the constant change in his day. Everyday was something new in the stories and people he meets. I realized we cherished something in common. He went on how some like to keep to themselves; others are an open book, perhaps because they think their paths will never cross again. I advised him after his pleasant conversations, he should exchange business cards...one never knows where a contact may lead. He seemed genuine and earnest enough to make an impression on me. What a great networking avenue, actually – being a cab driver. To us, this is a 10-minute blink. To him, this is 10 minutes that will never come back again. It is an opportunity to learn, connect and feel safe – a 10-minute pipedream in Kenya. I called the Hotline on the back of the passenger's seat to pay Global Cab #1407 his due compliments – respectful, great conversationalist, intelligent. I think the attendant was a bit shocked since most phone calls are complaints. I arrived at my destination and Mohammed and I said our goodbyes. Good luck to you, my friend.

In walking to even find the correct entrance, I could hear the roar inside the stadium. People everywhere were walking around with red, blue and white, representing both teams. Faces painted, huge flags draped over their shoulders. This was the first time I had ever been to Soldier Field. And this was the first time I would ever attend a qualifying game for the World Cup. USA vs. Honduras. When a friend called and offered me the ticket, I thought it was some Saturday little league travel soccer game. After researching online, I found that the US had just lost to Costa Rica and this game would qualify the winning team to be a contender in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Finals. Wow.

We were in the 10th row by U.S. Goalie, Tim Howard. What talent. Did not realize he was awarded the MLS Humanitarian of the Year award in 2001 for his work with children suffering from Tourette Syndrome, as he also suffers from Tourette’s. We watched as Honduras scored the first goal early on. Beer poured over the stands above, onto us. Glad they had something to cheer about, but hey, watch the vintage suede coat and SLR, please. The quick pace and excitement continued. Player of the month, Conor Casey, was yellow carded for his foul on Honduras’ Carlo Costly. Here is Landon Donovan scoring USAs first goal. The whole game was nailbiting – Honduras was hungry. From what I could see, USA gave up at least four goals. Then Donovan gave the winning corner kick to Carlos Bocanegra for a diving header. Good thing I didn’t call it a headbutt to my friend. Though I always thoroughly enjoyed the sport, this is all new lingo. One thing to note…Honduras’ Wilson Palacios, played with a heavy heart. His brother, who was kidnapped and missing for 20 months, was found a few short weeks before he played this game. My heart goes out to him.

As we were leaving, I was curious if any fights would break out. Out of 55,000 cheering fans, Honduras represented more than half. I was not certain of the overall sportsmanship of this game…where, between violent hockey and the gentry of golf, might this fit? I was very impressed to see how respectful everyone was. I was also very impressed with the surprisingly easy egress amidst 55,000 cheering fans leaving Soldier Field.