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Originally published June 28, 2010 at 2:10 PM | Page modified July 7, 2010 at 12:36 PM

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The Scene in South Africa | Week 3

Seattle Times readers are headed to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. Follow them as they send dispatches from the matches they attend as well as notes on their experiences traveling in the country. Get to know the World Cup community bloggers.

Follow the 2010 World Cup with our dynamic fan's guide that has team, group, schedule and venue info as well as live match stats from the first kick on June 11 to the final whistle on July 11.

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The scene in South Africa

June 29

Our South African swear word: Rustenburg

Submitted by Mark Loschky

The day before we left for South Africa, Landon Donovan scored a stoppage time goal against Algeria to put the USA through to the Round of 16. Where and when would they play? Twenty-four hours after we were set to arrive in Jo-burg, and about 75 miles northwest. Perfect!

We were able to purchase tickets on the FIFA website for all of us about four hours before we got on the plane in Seattle. Awesome! We were going to get to see the U.S. play Ghana in the Round of 16!

The morning of the match at our hotel we met a Brit named Glenn. Glenn is from Ipswich and is a huge Aston Villa fan. Like most U.K. football fans, he lives and breathes English football. Glenn had purchased tickets to the match in Rustenburg because England was favored to win Group C (which the USA ended up winning), so he had assumed he'd be watching his country play. He asked us for a ride. (It must have taken a bit of pride swallowing to ask for a ride to the match from a couple "yanks.") We had room with us in the car, so we brought him to Rustenburg.

Brian has had a bit of interaction with Brits in the last couple years and his one observation is: They are not shy about sharing their opinion on everything football. We had a lot of fun chatting with Glenn on the car ride to and from Rustenburg — we just didn't realize it would be a nearly 10 hours worth.

When we pulled into Rustenburg, we saw the stadium lit up three hours prior to match start. We followed the parking officials directions to a large field that was still a good mile or two from the stadium. There were charter buses waiting to take fans to the stadium, so we stood in line for a shuttle for a few minutes — and we were three hours early. The thought crosses our minds: We had to wait and we are early; When the game ends there won't be a trickle of fans needing a ride, there will be all the fans wanting a ride.


The Loschky family gets ready for the USA vs. Ghana match in Rustenburg.

We entered the stadium for our first World Cup experience. There were lots of Americans, lots of English, lots of Africans, many of which rooted for Ghana whether they were actually from Ghana or not. But attendance was only 34,000 — less than the average Sounders FC game. Still, it was an exciting match that the U.S. should have won, even though they played sub-par. It was sad to see the U.S. players just laying on the field when the final whistle blew and their World Cup run was over.

Then the real fun began.

We trekked to the bus lot with what seems like every other fan (as we expected). The only sign giving us direction is one with the name of the lot we parked in: South. The other lot: North. So, probably 17,000 or so people are all wanting to get to the same lot at the same time on too few buses: not good.

Lines? Workers to direct us where to go? Nope. We had to fend for ourselves.

The only mechanism for directing fans to buses was an 8-foot tall snow-fencing that funneled to about 6-feet wide where the bus stops. It was 11 p.m. and 17,000 fans were trying to funnel through three of these structures to get back to the parking lot. To make matters even more interesting, we were pressed hard against a group of very vocal Ghana fans the entire time. Chants of "the big elephant (USA) is dead," and other more derogatory statements went on the entire time.

We finally got on the bus after midnight, and made the two-mile trip back to the field that is the South parking lot. An hour later we got out of the parking lot and onto the one-lane road back to the highway. It took another four hours to drive the 75 miles back to Johannesburg. We arrived back at the hotel at 4:45 a.m., almost six hours after the match let out 75 miles away. The upside was a fun time with our English friend Glenn on the drive back. We even prodded him into singing some English football songs for us!


Stay tuned for posts on attending Argentina vs. Mexico and Netherlands vs. Slovakia!

June 26

USA vs. Ghana match

Submitted by Olufemi Kalejaiye


Ghana fans react at USA vs. Ghana match.

And #Ghana WINS!!!!! We're going to paint the town red yellow green & black tonite #STWorldCup than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone


USA fans react at USA vs. Ghana match.

June 25

Durban's FIFA fan park

Submitted by Olufemi Kalejaiye


Soccer fans watch Brazil vs. Portugal at FIFA fan park in Durban.

Brazilian band rocking the crowd in between matches Durban #FIFA Fan Park #STWorldCup than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone


Durban FIFA fan park.

#Durban beachside FIFA FanPark after #Brazil v #Portugal, it was PACKED with ppl in the IndianOcean #STWorldCup than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

June 25

The Pretoria scamper: Spain vs. Chile

Submitted by Mark Loschky

A few weeks before we left Brian and Mark realized that Spain and Chile were playing in Pretoria three hours after our plane would land in Johannesburg. Spain is our favorite team, so the wheels started turning in our heads: if we have the energy when we land...

We touched down in Jo-burg at 5:30 p.m., got our luggage, went through customs, rented the cars and feared for our lives driving to the hotel (totally jet lagged and on the left side of the road in a car with the steering wheel on the right side). Our plan was to give the Spain match a try if we made it to the hotel and it looked like it could work. Of course, we didn't have tickets but we figured we'd just show up and see if we could find them on the street.

We jumped out of the cab in Pretoria at 8:30, the exact time the match started. Brian had a moment of euphoria when he thought he found three tickets. He was close to handing over the money until he saw the words "South Korea" on the ticket. (South Korea had played a group game in Pretoria the previous week — nice try, buddy!) Then a South African guy asked him to give him the Spain jersey he was wearing (Iniesta, No. 6). An even nicer try, we thought, but wait: "You can have this jersey, but I'm going to need a ticket to the game," Brian said. The guy asked us to wait a minute and took off toward some friends. Jared and Nainoa freaked out: Why would Brian trade his Iniesta jersey for a ticket? Simple: An $80 jersey (which he can replace) for a $200 ticket to watch Spain under pressure of going out of the World Cup at the group stage. In the end, the guy couldn't deliver, so he still has his jersey. Oh well!

Though we were unsuccessful at getting tickets, we instead watched the match on an outdoor big screen T.V. a few blocks from the stadium. It was a bit painful not being able to watch the match live when we were so close that the vuvuzelas were louder than our voices. At least Spain won 2-1 to go through, so there is still a chance for us to see them play in the Durban semi-final.

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