As I started to make my way to the media entrance, I was walking through the fan zone at the south end of the stadium and several things caught my eye. First was a Tennessee Soccer Association setup that included several tents and a goal for kids to shoot at. And second was an official US Soccer tent with the US Open Cup trophy in it (the line to get a picture was about 50 people deep so I kept walking). As I got close to the media entrance, I was flagged down by a family supporting Mexico, asking me for directions on which gate they needed to go in (they must have seen the pass hanging from around my neck and thought I was a stadium employee). Luckily it was simply what gate they needed to go in, so I told them which way to go and we chatted for a few minutes. It turns out that this family (husband, wife, three boys and one girl) was from Huntsville, Alabama and they got their tickets as soon as they went on sale. I asked them how much they paid and the man said about $100 apiece but that it was worth it because this would probably be the best chance for them to see Mexico play in person. We talked for a few more minutes before I had to go and head to the media entrance.
I got into the press box at about 6:15PM. There was assigned seating. There were two rows of seats in the press box and each row had probably 50 or 60 seats on it. On the wall before you turned the corner, there was a list of assigned seats which was in alphabetical order by outlet. The exception to that rule seemed to be the big guns (some on Twitter call them the good ol’ boys): the usual suspects in the US Soccer media like Jeff Carlisle, Ives Galarcep, Steven Goff, Kevin Baxter and Paul Kennedy. They all had their own little corner at the front of the press box. Given that World Soccer Talk is towards the end of the alphabet, I was on the back row towards the end, but it was right next to the media lounge where food and beverages could be found, so I was a happy camper.
To my immediate left was the presenter from Univision who was at the press conference in August (we recognized each other and chatted briefly). And to my immediate right was Zander Faidley of the Meet Me in the Middle Podcast. We talked at length about a variety of US Soccer topics but the big one was the search for a new coach. Neither one of us is particularly pleased with how long the search is taking, and we are both of the opinion that US Soccer and Earnie Stewart aren’t fooling anybody with the straight lines they’ve been feeding the public. He even said, “They said they’ll make the hire by December or as soon as November. It’s not hard to figure out that’s when the Crew’s season will be over and they’ll make Berhalter the coach.” He took the words right out of my mouth.