Published on September 8th, 2013 | by Staples Soccer0
Bram Shook ’89 Reports From US-Costa Rica World Cup Qualifier
By now, Bram Shook ’89 is an honorary “Tico” (Costa Rican). He has lived in Nosara on the country’s coast for many years. He works in real estate, runs a school, and surfs.
But his heart remains with the US. When the men’s national team traveled south for a World Cup qualifying game, Bram was there. Here is his report:
It took me a full 24 hours to cool down from Friday night’s game. It was a huge serving of humble pie!
We heard that the US team was staying at the Marriott hotel, about 2 minutes from my wife Jessi’s parents’ house. Her cousin works at the hotel and said that the team is always at the hotel, and very friendly. We decided to have lunch there with our kids, and see what happens.
After lunch the team was released from meetings and were all over the place. We first saw Michael Bradley and Kyle Beckerman. I asked them if the team was ready for the game. and Bradley assured me they were. I then asked for a photo with my son Kai, and he was happy to oblige. Very nice guy.
We then saw Jurgen Klinsmanm walking by with his staff. One of his assistant coaches, Andreas Herzog, was a teammate and friend of a good friend of mine who lived in Nosara for many years. I introduced myself to Andreas and we chatted about our friend. While we were talking, Landon Donovan and Jozy Altidore walked by. Then Clint Dempsey, Geoff Cameron and Eddie Johnson walked by. They were waiting for the elevator when E.J. noticed us and nudged Dempsey. The 3 of them walked back and asked if we wanted a picture. It was unreal. They were so nice and humble. My wife immediately told them that she was Tica and not roting for them. They all laughed.
I told them people were trying to make snow at the new stadium. Dempsey then told Jessi that they wished it hadn’t snowed in the previous game, because they would have scored a lot more goals. After talking for a few minutes they headed off. My son Kai was beyond himself. We’re big Dempsey fans in this household.
So… I went to the stadium with my wife Jessi, her sister, and a couple of others. I wore my blue USA top. When we were 6 blocks from the stadium we saw a sea of red. In the 15-minute walk to the stadium I didn’t see single other gringo. I was General Custer… El Estadio Nacional was Little Big Horn.
I still thought we were going to win. This was my first time at this “new” stadium. I have been to several other games at Saprissa and the Liga stadiums, which actually shake and move. This stadium has real grass and looks nice. I could not believe how loud it was.
Before the game we saw Bradley roll his ankle and limp off. As the team came on the pitch I was reminded why it is so hard to win away from home in CONCACAF. The stadium erupted during the national anthem. I couldn’t hear a single note from the song… I just saw that the guys had their right hands over their hearts.
In a stadium of about 35,000, I could not find another gringo anywhere. I heard there were 50 of them in a small section on the other side of the stadium. I got interviewed live on the local Canal 7 news. The guy couldn’t believe a “Yankee”was wearing a shirt. I told him I would almost always go with Costa Rica, as they are my 2nd favorite team — but tonight I’m going with the gringos. The entire section hooted and hollered during the interview. Everywhere I went people yelled and pointed. 99% was in good spirits (especially because they were winning) but I heard my share of “hijueputa.”
I was in the bathroom at halftime. Fifty guys were packed, and everyone was looking at me. I said, “Me siento un poco solitario” (I feel a little lonely) and they all started screaming, laughing and jumping up and down. It was all good. I got a lot of pats on the back and people taking pictures of me.
Come to think of it, I may be lucky the US lost. Costa Rica wanted revenge for the snow game and if they’d lost on home turf, they may have taken it out on me! So now I have to eat humble pie as all my Tico friends were happy to call and text me all day. Nothing like gracious winners…
Bring on Mexico!