Sunday, March 1, 2009

Moving on....

Having left Vancouver, I have now wrapped up the West Coast of North America, in terms of its major soccer teams. Four MLS and two USL teams down, and plenty more to follow; I am now moving on to the second leg of my journey – let's call it the 'middle bit' – starting with Salt Lake City, Utah.

I could tell a lie, and say that I know what to expect from Utah. But besides the 2002 Winter Olympics being held here, I know that it's a predominantly Mormon state and that former Gretna striker Kenny Deuchar was playing up front for Real Salt Lake last season – that's about it!

It is shaping up to be an interesting stay already, though. The 'guest house' I'm staying in, near the downtown area of Salt Lake City, is one of the least welcoming places I've ever visited.

There's a key-code on the front door, so you can't get in unless you know the code. I was sent two different codes by email, yet neither worked. Eventually, after multiple attempts, a fellow guest let me in. Of course, no members of staff are actually on site, even once you're in the building.

So the next challenge was the 'self check-in' computer. It was switched off when I arrived. I tried to turn it on, and it crashed. Twice. The third time, it sprang to life, allowing me to enter my details. Not my name, or anything else I would know off-hand, but another code – this time a 16 digit (numbers and letters) code.

After a few failed attempts, I eventually figured out that I needed to enter the slashes and dashes as well as the numbers and letters, for it to finally allow me access. Access to yet ANOTHER code, this time to open a little box which had my key in it.

In addition to the code, the computer prompted me with a message, informing me me that if I dare to stay in the building beyond check-out time, my credit card will be charged for an extra night, and police may be called.

Welcome to Salt Lake City....

Anyway, as far as the soccer goes, it should be an interesting stop-off – much like Vancouver, outdoor activities are huge here, so perhaps the appetite for the sport is too. Real Salt Lake were only formed in 2005, so don't have the same history that the Vancouver Whitecaps enjoy.

Speaking of which, I was fortunate enough to interview the Whitecaps chairman, Bob Lenarduzzi, before I left. And there is no-one more qualified to talk about the Whitecaps than Bob.

He actually played for Reading FC in England before he first joined the team in 1974, but he has been with the Whitecaps ever since. He played for them in the NASL. He played for them when they were the Vancouver 86ers – he even played for the Tacoma Stars in the indoor Canadian Soccer League when the Whitecaps didn't exist for two seasons.

Not to mention that he played for the Canadian national team at their only ever World Cup appearance (Mexico, 1986), and later managed Canada from 1993-98, and is a member of the Canadian National Soccer Hall of Fame.

There are not many people who can rival that kind of experience, not just in North America, but anywhere in soccer. It will be an interesting contrast going from that, to a team formed less than five years ago – and one that I am looking forward to.

Now where did I put that key......


  1. Sorry to hear about the start to your Salt Lake visit. Believe me, it gets better. I've only been here about a year, but its a pretty cool place to be, if only for the outdoors and Real Salt Lake alone.

  2. Next time your in town I'm sure we can find you place to stay. I'll even buy you a pint.