I knew being in Qatar would be a lot of soccer. To be honest, I didn’t think it would be THIS much soccer. What an experience it has been! I am heading back to Seattle in a couple days, and when it’s all said and done I’ll end up attending 12 matches. It has truly been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
But man, do I feel wiped out. A lot of these matches don’t even start until 10 p.m., and by the time you get back to the hotel until 2 in the morning… then you gotta be up to hit breakfast in the morning. But it’s all been worth it, obviously, not just because I can hit 2 games in a single day, but to be here with my whole family.
I’ve been fortunate to enough to see some very hyped games like Brazil-Serbia, Argentina-Mexico, and Uruguay-Portugal. And the main venue, Lusail Stadium, is an unbelievable experience. And of course it’s really cool to see the other stadiums, too. The thing that has stuck out with me the most, though, is seeing the different fanbases from all over the world. I think the Morocco fanbase has been the best one I’ve seen here. You could not hear anything in that stadium because they were so loud every minute of that game. I also want to shout out the Tunisia fans, who similarly were nonstop supporting their team.
I’m sure as time goes on, I’ll be able to look back and feel lucky I was able to see so many talented teams and players play consistently. It was also cool for me to see Xavi and Nouhou play, too. I was able to see Xavi and chat with him for a few minutes at his hotel. I am just really happy for him.
We’ve also done a couple excursions outside of soccer, too. I think I’m getting the best of both worlds – the fútbol side of it and just the experience of being in a foreign country. I went out into the desert at sunset with my family and visited tents to eat local food. And then we also went to the Souq Waqif, a really famous marketplace where they sell traditional garments and crafts. Even though I have only been here for a couple weeks, I feel like I have covered a lot of the city and have all the public transportation down.
A special couple of days here was Thanksgiving followed by the USA-England match. Even though we were all away from home, we were grateful to be together as a family for the holiday, especially to be here for Cristian and to be able to support him in the biggest sporting event in the world. And the match vs. England was electric. It shows just how far the U.S. has come to go toe-to-toe with England and to arguably have the better chances to win the game. It was a great experience and as a fan and as a player, I hope that momentum keeps building as the country continues to improve.