Chances are, if you've bought a Wizards ticket, hung out in the Cauldron, traveled for a road game, visited Big Soccer or took in a tailgate at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, you already know our guest today.
But, if whatever reason you don't know Sam Pierron, he has been around the team since its inception. First as a fan, then as a fan organizer and now as the customer relations manager for the Wizards. He helped develop the Wizards first website and the Cauldron too. You could say fan service has long been his forte.
This year, he is doing something that every fan of nearly every sport dreams of: Watching his or her team play live and in person. And, in keeping with his service to the fans, he's going to be blogging about it forBig Soccer
I got the idea because it crossed my mind that this would be the first season where each team would play each other team once and only once, home and away. That's 15 road games, and this is the 15th season of MLS. The symmetry was delicious. Plus, I just got divorced, so I have a lot of free time.
I am also a reasonably serious foodie, so I'm writing about the food I seek out in each locale. The blog will also contain my memories from 15 years as a Wizards supporter, generally after each home game.
As of this week, I now have all of my travel booked! 8 frequent flyer flights from old awards, 4 new round trips, a three-legged trip to Chicago and DC for a Jeopardy! tryout + Wizards-DC, a train-up/fly-back trip to Chicago in July and plans to drive to Dallas in July. [These last two games are part of road trips being organized by Wizards fans.]
I have an all-stadium credential from MLS, so I'm taking in each stadium from a variety of vantage points. Alas, I was right behind their main supporters' section when they scored the game-winner. Seattle's crowd was certainly good, and the atmosphere around the stadium pre-game is easily the best in MLS. For straight crowd atmosphere, I'll take Toronto. Aside from some very odd pseudo-warnings before my arrival and some light-hearted banter, I wasn't treated poorly in Seattle.The Full 90: Which trip are you looking forward to the most? Sam:
I'm looking forward to Toronto and New York the most. Toronto has the best stadium atmosphere in the league, and there's serious eating to be done there. New York - not only is there the matter of visiting the new Red Bull Arena, but I have an amazing place to stay, and it's one of the most exciting places to be on Earth. Not to mention the serious food damage that will be done.The Full 90: You've been around the Wizards since the beginning, where does watching the new soccer-specific stadium rank amongst your favorite Wizards moments? Who has been your favorite player in that span? Sam:
Tops. A close second was Miklos Molnar's sudden-death goal to send us to the 2000 MLS Cup final. I don't want to get too far into it, but if you aren't familiar with what happened that night, look it up.
Favorite player? It's been my privilege to work with Jimmy Conrad, Peter Vermes and Kerry Zavagnin on a variety of projects, and they're honorable gentlemen and great co-workers (to say nothing of Brian Roberts). On heart, blood, spirit and guts: Mo Johnston. Who are we kidding, though? Preki is one of the greatest players in league history, and if he turned up today and asked to hang out on the right wing waiting to cut inside with the ball, I don't know that I'd leave him off my roster.The Full 90: What are your World Cup plans? How excited are you for this year's US team? What do you think the chances are for the KC Cup bid? Sam:
My World Cup plans are as they always are: to watch the games with friends in fun environments. This year, the Wizards and partners will be providing the best World Cup watch party environment in the country. Watch for the news shortly.
I don't think a lot of our chances. Second-round exit would not be a disappointment, anything beyond that would be a great success.
Assuming that the US gets the 2018 or 2022 bid, I give KC a slightly better than 50/50 chance of getting matches at Arrowhead. I'm very proud to have worked on the bid, and we have a lot going for us. The fact is that it's a big country, with a lot of big, modern stadia, and it's always going to be a difficult decision.