Utah Diary Part 4 0 Superstitions and The Kreisis Ends in Salt Lake
Salt Lake had undergone some recent changes.
In the last five days, there has been both rain and a MLS league win. I will leave this town a better place than I found it. Or at least I am claiming credit for it.
Last night at the Rio Tinto Stadium, Real Salt Lake convincingly beat a limp Portland Timbers side 3-0. After four games without a win, compounding the ego blow of the Open Cup loss to Minnesota, the self confidence of the club had taken a dip.
My presence ended one jinx and my absence may have caused another.
On the same night back in Seattle, Sounders FC finally ended their nine game winless streak in my absence. Maybe they should ask me to stop coming. At least, it would be for a better reason than the last time they asked.
However l am not alone in all this talk of jinxes and superstitions. Apparently a leading MLS coach has a favourite seat in a favourite restaurant. If that seat is taken, he is said to just stand there waiting.
Another member of a coaching staff is known to have tried anything to break a bad streak; keys in a different pocket, that kind of thing.
At half time in last night’s game, I had the chance to talk to somebody who has been in Salt Lake as long as I have, their new media relations officer, Sam Stejskal. The 0-0 draw with the Sounders had been his first game. With no goals in the first half, we had both watched 135 minutes of goalless football in our time at the RioT. A debate ensued about who was the goal jinx.
He came from the Chicago Fire and remarked that he had also watched RSL at Toyota Park in May, a game that had finished 0-0. I conceded. Sam was definitely the RSL goal jinx.
Quite clearly the debate about the goal jinx was solely responsible for the arrival of three goals in the second half. Our conversation about jinxing goals jinxed the goalless streak.
Some people take this superstition stuff way more seriously than even that. After the match, I met two RSL fans who we will call Andrew and Hibba because those are their names.
They carry a Posh Spice doll whose head once became accidentally removed.
Apparently, it was taken to the MLS Cup Final in Seattle in 2009 as a complete Spice Girl. In the pandemonium that accompanied RSL’s penalty shoot out win, the head fell off. These somewhat morbid children decided that the doll was a lucky doll for RSL and vowed to take it everywhere – with the still unattached head. So both head and doll traveled around North America for a year.
Not anymore however.
It made the ultimate sacrifice for its country after being thrown at England fans in a Las Vegas hotel during the 2010 USA v England World Cup game. The English kept it and the head of Posh Spice has now presumably returned to England.
The corpse continues to support Salt Lake.
This prompted an earnest and uninformed debate about whether head coach Jason Kreis was superstitious which preoccupied us on the journey home. He has a decent memory for faces at least. As he passed on the way to his own press conference, he jibed at me for patiently waiting for John Spencer. “You’re not getting another exclusive interview with me. I’m going to say everything in there.”
Clearly he remembered our previous encounter when I nabbed him within minutes of the hospitality suite.
Earlier that day, two local photographers and I visited a camera shop. After some mild banter about the relative contribution words and pictures make to growing football in the USA.
“Careful what you say. This is our house,” beamed one of them victoriously. “Look at all the sports photos in here.”
At which point, out of the corner of my eye, I caught an action photo of MLS.
And which club is featured in the iconic football photo in this corner of Salt Lake? A bright rave green one, none other than Nate Sturgis strutting his stuff for Sounders FC at the Clink.
All they cared about was which lens took the shot. I realised I was outgunned and outnumbered.
Sometimes, it is just better to concede.
Some more tourism awaits today. There’s talk of a vodka tour. I hope I’m not jinxing it by telling you.