New England Soccer Today

#WWC Postcard: Montréal

Photo credit:  Tim Bouwer

Photo credit: Tim Bouwer

Attending a World Cup soccer match has been one of my mother’s dreams for a long time and so it was with great anticipation that we headed to Montreal to watch Canada take on the Netherlands at Olympic Stadium in Montréal on Monday.

We were blessed with the use of a friend’s condo in downtown Montréal, which turned out to be a 20-25 minute drive from the stadium. Even though the game was in the evening, we arrived around noon at the Olympic Park planning to spend the day at the Biodome next door, only to learn that it is closed on Mondays…of course. So, off we went to the botanical garden, a 15 minute walk up the hill.

While it was threatening to rain, fortunately, it stayed dry while we wandered about enjoying the flowers. The garden is the largest in Canada, and it boasts a wide variety of garden areas that range from formal beds, to artistic plantings (including geometric one using green and red lettuce) and miniature areas such as the lilac, Chinese and Japanese gardens. By two ponds are lawns with strategically placed Adirondack chairs that were surrounded by a huge assortment of peony plants in full bloom.

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Over lunch, Mom struck up a conversation with two Toronto FC season tickets holders in town for the game, and they had a warning for Revolution fans advocating for an in-city stadium – there are often hidden costs and challenges with city centre stadiums. They said it costs them $36 to take a train into the city as there is no parking available, and that it took advocating on the part of the fans to get trains that ran every 30 minutes instead of once an hour.

After lunch, we enjoyed the beauty of the alpine garden, which looked like a miniature mountain top complete with a waterfall, and then we made our way over to the insect display building. Here we peered into glass cases containing a myriad of multicolored insects from around the world and we learned that one in four living creatures is a beetle. Who knew? After ogling the beetles, we ended our visit with a stroll through the rose garden on our way out.

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Heading into the game, we enjoyed the antics of the Canadian fans in the fan zone. Mom asked two Canadian men to pose with her and they were very polite, asking if they could put their arms around here for a pose. She acquiesced. Inside the stadium, we had fun before the game “posing” for a picture in the stands taken by Tim Bouwer, a fellow Revolution photographer who was shooting the game from the field.

Watching a game in a closed stadium is a much different experience if you’re accustomed, like most people, to watching outdoors as the sound travels more easily than it does at Gillette Stadium. With 45,400 fans chanting for Canada, the 20-odd fans cheering for the Netherlands were totally lost in the crowd. The crowd cheered loudly for every save, tackle or run for goal. They were clearly behind their team and when they became very excited, they would stomp their feet which made the steel structure shake beneath us.

With advancement out of the group phase on the line, the game was tightly played with bookended goals. Canada scored in the 10th minute and the Netherlands in the 87th minute, and the match finished 1-1. This meant it was a tense last six minutes of the game as Canada needed to win or tie to advance and the Canadians around us were muttering under their breath, “just don’t lose, just don’t lose.” There was a collective sigh of relief when the final whistle blew.

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It was great fun to attend a World Cup game, and Mom and I will head up again next week to enjoy a quarterfinals game too. Perhaps we shall see you there?

Know Before You Go

• It is about a 5.5 hour drive to Montreal from Boston

• Allow plenty of time to cross the border, as traffic can get backed up pretty quickly

• Parking beside the stadium was a breeze and we were out in 10 minutes after the game instead of facing huge delays using the subway station beside the stadium. Cost $20

• Check your international data plans on your phones – the data adds up quickly

• US ATM cards work for getting cash

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