Brett Wiesner Recaps U.S. Futsal National Team's Trip to the Maracanã
On Saturday, Sept. 27, the U.S. Futsal National Team was treated to a special experience in Rio de Janeiro. The team departed its hotel after training in the afternoon and headed downtown to the famous Maracanã, one of the most revered soccer stadiums in the world. Midfielder Brett Wiesner provided ussoccer.com with a recap of the memorable night.
Sep. 29, 2008
"The experience at the Maracanã was incredible. As we rolled up to the stadium in our bus, the streets were lined with fans. There was lots of rain, but it was no bother for the supporters. They were in the streets, dressed in Flamengo's black and red, drinking, singing and chanting for the team.
The stadium seats close to 90,000 people but the game that we were seeing, Flamengo vs. Sport, was not the biggest draw in Brazil. Nonetheless close to 30,000 screaming fans were in attendance. A few of the locals that we talked to said that number was a good figure for a game that wasn't between traditional rivals. It was probably because of the importance of the game: Flamengo is near the top of the table, but they needed a win to keep pace with their rivals in Brazil’s top league, which is called the Serie A.
We were lucky enough to be in a box, out of the rain. At first you would think that being isolated from the terraces would detract from the spectacle and in other places, maybe that would be true. At the Maracanã, however, the atmosphere was infectious and we definitely felt like we were part of the crowd.
We arrived at our seats with about 35 minutes to kickoff and already the fans were waving massive flags, singing songs, lighting flares and beating drums. Everybody jumped up and down awaiting their team - you could feel the stadium rumbling with anticipation for the game.
The first half was a bit sloppy, each side had a half chance or two, with Sport clearing the ball off the line at one point. The rain was persistent, but the field held up rather well throughout the game. You could tell that at times the pitch was really slick though, and the ball sometimes skidded out of play with the rain.
The second half opened with an unexpected goal from the visitors, which silenced the crowd (minus the small section of away supporters at the other end of the stadium). It distressed our gracious hosts, as well. Clad in Flamengo gear from head to toe, they stomped back and forth in the box, wondering how their team was going to come back.
As the game wore on, the crowd stayed behind their side. Eventually, they were rewarded with a great tying goal off a nice build up down the left side. The place erupted with noise - more songs, more jumping and plenty of flares, which seemed to illuminate each corner of the field.
The equalizer seemed to put the visitors on their heels and the home team had all the momentum. Flamengo pressed and pressed relentlessly and it seemed like it would only be a matter of time before the team in red and black scored again. In the 89th minute the winner came off a great delivery and headed finish at the near post. It was pandemonium.
From there it was just a matter of time until Flamengo picked up the crucial three points their fans craved. The final whistle went and the dancing and cheering from the fans didn't stop there, and as we left the stadium you could hear everybody still singing in the streets.
It was an excellent game and a great experience. I have been to many great stadiums, like Old Trafford and the Stade de France, and the game at the Maracanã was certainly on the same level. The atmosphere was second to none and it made for a very enjoyable evening that all of our guys will remember for a long time."