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31 For 31: Now It Can Be Told - My USOC Story

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In which I relive my USOC victory story on the eve of MLS Cup.

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

So I'll admit, on the eve of MLS Cup, I've gone back and relived the recent glory. The 2012 USOC win. Eddie Johnson's satellite ball. The 2013 MLS Cup Final. The 2015 USOC Final. The 2015 Portland penalt... no. I didn't rewatch that. I'm not a masochist. But I thought now might be a good time to give my perspective on this year's silverware/hardware/whateverware you want to call it trip, because I was lucky enough to see it in person. In truth, I've seen all of our triumph's (since moving to KC in 2006) in person. And in penalty kicks. And... yeah.

To start with, I am, essentially, an environmental scientist, which is a pretty sweet gig, and my work lets me travel a lot. And it just so happened that I had work kicking off in both New Jersey and Philadelphia that required me to be there.

So I did what any good fan/employee would do and talked to my project manager (who is also, awesomely, an SKC ticket holder) and got the go ahead to travel fly into Newark, do what I needed to do there, drive down to Philly, spend a night, and do what I needed to do there. And it went awesome. I will say though, at first, I felt... ominous? Remember that full moon we had? I'm also an astronomy geek... I took some pictures. They looked crimson. A bad sign, no doubt?

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But, yeah. A flight to NY/NJ. And first off, I got to watch a house get torn down. Exhibit A.

Again... a house being demolished... the demolition of our dynasty? Of the house the Philly Built? Some third thing? Probably none of the above. But good trip none the less. Day one in the books. Day two. Throw scarf and jersey in passenger seat. Drive down the Turnpike to Philly. Let's do this.

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Please note that my hands were safely on the wheel when I took this picture.

Anyway, yea. Get to Philly. Check in. A few hours to kill. Figure out I'll walk down to Fado to watch some Champions League soccer. Rocking my SKC gear. First thing I hear in the door is "HEEEEY!!!! KAAYY CEEE FAAAANNN!!!"

Sweet. They're giving it to me already. I walk over to the bar and say "Mmmkay, where do you want me and what are you gonna buy me?"

Turns out? Jon Kempin's mom and company, and they were thrilled to see another KC fan wandering downtown. I explained I was just a small part of a group, we had 600+ coming and I was just antsy to get out and watch some soccer before the real... soccer. She was great. Her friends were great. Beers and shots were had. My watched beeped. I had to go. It was time.

It was time.

I wandered back to my hotel, where the bus was picking us up, and this is what it ended up looking like.

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This was bus one of four. It was incredible. I'm sure the hotel staff is used to dealing with traveling NFL fans and such, but I'd like to think traveling MLS fans are a different breed.

Also, Chester is a bit far from Philadelphia. Like, far enough that for a bit I felt like maybe our bus driver was lost.

But he wasn't! He wasn't at all. It's just that far. And then we got there. And then excitement! Three hours until game time! To tailgate and mingle and hassle! Except, for, well... no Philly fans were really there. And they actually circled the busses around us. And, also, whoever was in charge of acquiring beer did their job well, but, what was neglected, was enough cups for 800 people (and yes, I know who you are, and no, I won't name your name, because you're good people). So we all sat there. 800 of us. With a dozen kegs. And no cups.

And then, the soccer gods sent an angel. Or a devil. Or... shit, I don't remember what his name was. Some guy on a gator with a whole case of plastic cups. CUPS! WE WANT THE CUPS! GOTTA HAVE THOSE CUPS!

The Union FO got us good on that one. Here's what we wound up drinking out of.

Well played, Union, well played.

That said, they also hooked us up with some of the most average cheesesteak's I've ever had. Which is almost a compliment. I'm not a big fan of cheesesteaks (poor meat and velveeta? why?)

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Still, honestly, probably the best tailgate I've had. This was my first away Cup tailgate, and getting to meet so many awesome traveling KC people was just amazing.

Moving on, we rally around, oh hey, who's that? Jimmy Conrad? Jimmy. Conrad. Legend. Hero. Chest Hair. All of it.

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He made an awesome speech. It's on you tube. You should check it out. Actually, here it is.

Are we fired up? We're fired up. So is Hector.

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So we go in. We match in. We're proud. We should be proud. We're here to win. Here. We. Go.

Here we go.

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Here we go.

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And. Yeah. There we went. And Ben's Army went off too. I can't say enough good things about these people, they're a great supporters group and, getting ahead of myself, I felt they got hard done having to see their team lose this twice at home. But the audio/visual on TV doesn't do justice to what they bring.

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So, yeah. Again, highlight, on YouTube, watch them. My only odd throw away is I was really upset at how hard they ushered us KC fans away from Philly fans. We really wanted to mingle and they honestly just sort of cornered us into a smoking pen and did everything possible to keep us from talking in the concourse and terraces. I get managing trouble, but I really felt like both Supporters Groups really wanted more interaction.

At any rate, I took a lot of pictures, from my camera and my cell phone, but both died before the drama.

And I hate PKs. I will honestly say, while every other supporter was standing, I sat down. It wasn't that I didn't care. I cared a lot. But I had a blast. I got good work done. I got to spend some time in an awesome city. I saw an amazing game of soccer. PKs were the icing on the icing on the cake, and whether it was sweet, or bitter, I honestly didn't care.

But then we won. And. Hell. Sweet is better than better.

"Jake, I go."

God damn right, Jordi. What a moment.

My favorite memory is, after the dust settled, Graham Zusi rushing over to us with the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Trphy and trying to get passed security to hand it to us. The security guys seemed ultra hesitant, but Zusi was insistent that, no, this isn't mine, or the team, this is ours. All of ours. And he tossed the cup into the stands, and we caught it, and we touched it, and we passed it. No one lingered, wanted to be jealous. We all wanted to share. It was a shared moment, and it was, honestly, amazing.

The drive back took forever.

The next morning, I got to put on a respirator and walk into this.

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But honestly, that evening, I checked into my hotel, saw this and was just... Proud.

Photo credit: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Photo credit: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

So, yeah. That's my story. Best away game I've been to, and I've only been to half a dozen. But I will say, I'm 3/3 on Championship's, so if SKC's FO wants to send me to the next one... I'm there.

Can't wait to travel to Mexico for a CCL Cup hoist.