Nanjing Yoyo 1, Other Team 1

13 09 2009

On Saturday, Missy, Zephyr (the NFLS teacher who went with us to the last soccer match), a German teacher named Leonard and I attempted to go watch a match featuring the other Nanjing professional soccer team, Nanjing Yoyo, play a match. Unlike Jiangsu Sainty, who are in the Chinese first division and play in the gigantic Olympic Stadium, the Yoyo are newer, in the Chinese second division, and play in the smaller and older Wutaishan (Pronounced WOO-TIE-SHAWN, roughly) Stadium in the center of Nanjing. So using our newfound Google Maps ability to find bus stops on the Internet, we took the Number 20 bus off in the direction of the stadium. Well, we’re still not sure whether Bus 20 goes to the stadium, because after it started heading off in the opposite direction, we bailed and decided to walk. After stumbling around a bit and generally getting frustrated with the process of finding the stadium, which in theory should not have been difficult, we finally saw what looked like a stadium and entered through one of the gates.
Now, again, when we went to the Jiangsu Sainty match, it wasn’t as high-tech as some matches we’ve been to, but it was at a big stadium with turnstiles, and the tickets were printed, and there were people selling jerseys and assorted Sainty merch around the metro stop near the stadium. Well, suffice to say that Nanjing Yoyo are not quite up to speed in that department. No one was selling tickets, because apparently the match was free. No one was selling any Nanjing Yoyo merch, and their uniforms looked almost identical to the Jiangsu Sainty ones. And maybe they were, I’m not sure. And instead of roughly 6,000-10,000 people in attendance, I would estimate we joined a crowd of about, oh, I don’t know, 30 people. Wutaishan Stadium was old, and the pitch (field, for those who don’t watch much footballsoccer) was in dreadful shape. After we got there, two other guys who Zephyr had met out and about showed up. Rulaf was from … I don’t remember where … the Netherlands, maybe? He was both Dutch and German, something that would probably make my German friend Christian really angry, since he hates the Dutch because of their wooden shoes or something. (If you’re reading, Christian, hello, and I hope your schnitzel is quite delightful. Achtung!) The other guy was a business student from Papau New Guinea named Matthew who I didn’t get to talk to much, though I did try and get him to tell me where the good coffee was here, unsuccessfully.
So the game started, and Rulaf and I tried to tutor Zephyr a bit on soccer rules, since he has only recently become a fan. Actually the action was pretty good. The team in red, (who were from I don’t know where, so I assume I will update this once I look it up online – sorry, I can’t read Mandarin yet) looked considerably better and had two players who looked to be Brazilian or something, which many of the Chinese teams do. Editor’s note: OK, I looked and they are called Yanbian FC, and they’re from Longjing, a small city in northeastern China. They had several early chances and took the lead on a nice goal from the forward, who ran onto a pass that I thought the goalkeeper should’ve gotten to, but hey, he’s the one making 300 RMB a month to play football, not me, and slotted it home for a 1-0 lead. There were a few more chances for the visiting team, but the Yoyo held on and went into halftime down only by one goal.
In the second half, Nanjing was significantly more determined, and the 15 or so fans cheering for them erupted, sort of, when their tall forward leapt and headed home a nice cross to tie the game. There were a few more good moments, but the game ended 1-1. I have to say, it was a good match – the action was fast and furious, and the players were good. Maybe they didn’t play as a team as much as you might want as a coach, but technically, they were very skilled.
So after the match, we walked down onto the field and across to the entrance, where we had to make a hard decision. Yoyo or Sainty? Incidentally, as it turns out, Sainty Corp. is a clothing company. Yet they don’t make their team’s uniforms. Go figure. Here are the pros and cons for each team:
Jiangsu Sainty
Pros: First division soccer is generally a higher level than second division. We get to ride a metro, always fun for me. The matches are at Olympic Stadium, which is pretty modern and comfortable. The matches are only 15 RMB, a steal anywhere you go. Team merchandise is readily available. The team has a speedy Colombian who looks like he might be able to score goals.
Cons: Matches cost 15 RMB more than Nanjing Yoyo. Since games are in the cavernous Olympic Stadium, they don’t have quite the atmosphere of a smaller venue. The team just isn’t very good. The Olympic Stadium is a long ways from anything.
Nanjing Yoyo
Pros: Wutaishan Stadium offers a chance to get as close to the action as we want. It’s always fun to join a team just starting out, even if they’ve been a team for like 10 years. But c’mon people, they only have 20 fans! Matches are free, a price hard to beat. The match, albeit the first one we’ve seen for either team, was much more exciting than the Sainty match. Nanjing Yoyo just sounds cooler. But only just.
Cons: Wutaishan Stadium could not be considered nice. Where do you get drinks? Where do you get uniforms? There are only 30 people at matches, which makes the atmosphere argument a bit of a stretch. It is almost impossible to find information on Jiangsu Sainty, much less their less-popular younger brother.
So in the end, it looks like we’ll probably go with Jiangsu Sainty as our adopted team. Go Fightin’ Blues!
-Jeremiah

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Houston, we have a problem

8 08 2009

Well, actually we don’t have a problem, but we are in Houston. So we left Tucson on Monday morning after lots of packing and cleaning and assistance from a fine group of friends. After having some problems with the Aztek (pulling a weighed-down trailer, mind you) overheating, we slowed down the pace of the trip and eventually made it to Las Cruces, where we dropped off Hercules (my one-year-old cat) at my friends’ Chris and Lizzie’s. We hung out with them for a while, and Hercules seemed reasonably comfortable – in an angry kind of way, but nonetheless – so we drove the last hour to my parents’, arriving around midnight.

We spent basically two days visiting my parents. My sister’s husband Danny did a pretty thorough job of flushing out the Aztek’s radiator, which was nice of him, and we had the usual dinner and hangout time. On the second night, we met my sister and her family for dinner at the golf course, then went to a house where my dad’s blues band was jamming, which was fun. Lots of strange hippies there. I’m not talking about you, mom. We left Thursday morning at 6 am, and I’m glad we did, because …

The drive took about 18 hours. That’s a long time sitting in a car. For all of us, Tallulah (Missy’s dog) included. I swear, the drive from El Paso to San Antonio is the longest stretch of nothing road in the United States. Is there a worse one? Denver to Salt Lake City, maybe? Anyway, we made it, pulling into Houston and Missy’s mom’s house at about midnight.

Friday was spent unloading the trailer, which we were both glad to get out of our lives, then dropping off our applications for visas. They told us they’d be ready by Wednesday. Afterward, we went to a zydeco place for burgers and did a bit of dancing. While we were hanging out there, we found out that there was a soccer friendly match between El Salvador and Colombia starting in a couple hours at the University of Houston, so we went and watched the game, which was lots of fun. I’ll try and add a couple photos from that, time permitting. Today we’ll hopefully spend a relaxing day hanging out then go to watch a music festival at a park in downtown Houston. Then Sunday it is on to Dallas/Ft. Worth to see Missy’s dad & stepmom. Talk to you soon!

-jeremiah