When media personalities were invited to take part in the Colorado Rapids Media Cup a few weeks ago, they had no idea what they were in store for.
The Rapids invited reporters, broadcasters and journalists to take part in the event, which pitted media members and a few Rapids alumni against each other in a soccer match on a shrunken field. Notable media members included the smack-talking Vic Lombardi of Altitude, Altitude’s energetic Nuggets sideline reporter Ally Sturm, Mile High Sports Magazine’s editor-in-chief and all-around athlete Doug Ottewill, and on the not-so-notable list, myself, the unathletic and uncoordinated 25-year-old phenom David Schaut.
The sides, Burgundy vs. Gold, were determined ahead of the match. My team, the Burgundy team, was represented well with players like Lombardi and Sturm, and from the alumni we had Padraig Smith, the sporting director for the Rapids, and former Rapids defender Ritchie Kotschau.
The gold team had Ottewill, Richard Fleming, the voice of the Rapids, and Claudio Lopez, the former Rapids striker and Argentina national team member.
The game started quickly and the gold team dominated the first half. They went up 4-2 early and controlled most of the possession in the half. The details are fuzzy. All I remember is a lot of running and dying for the whistle to blow for halftime. When my wish was granted, I dragged myself over to the bench areas, and was relieved to find Caprisun and orange slices for my dehydrated and damaged body. I’d never been more grateful for kindergarten snacks in my life.
Lombardi couldn’t help but take a dig at a fellow breathless player and myself when he saw us barely surviving at halftime.
“You guys look dead,” Lombardi said.
We felt dead.
Back on the field, the Burgundy team made a furious comeback in the second half, despite former Rapids goalkeeper and current assistant coach Chris Sharpe minding the net. Burgundy finally tied the game at eight with about two minutes left in the shortened 60 minute match. With the game on the line, the benches emptied and chaos reigned on the field.
In the last play of the game, the gold team, (with more players than Burgundy, I might add) finished a goal that won them the game with the final score being 9-8, but everyone won because the running was finally over. After a group photo and breath-catching, the man of the match was announced, and wouldn’t you know it, he’s my boss.
Ottewill was named the man of the match by the Diego Garcia, the Rapids PR guy, and if I had known the prize, I just may have played a bit harder. Ottewill was given a large bottle of Chandon champagne.
After the game, the teams retired for a bit of relaxation with well-deserved pizza and beer. My takeaways from the game: I am awfully out of shape, and at Saturday night’s game against Real Salt Lake, I’ll have unending respect for the sheer cardiovascular hell that soccer players put themselves through.