It proved to be anything but routine.
We arrived at the @MNStarsFC match against Ft. Lauderdale match for a 7:30 start time. As we were making our way toward the beer garden for a refreshment, a woman at the promotions table asked the three of us if we wanted to sign up to be part of the halftime competition. We are always gung-ho about such things and signed up enthusiastically. @DanaWessel, a soccer enthusiast taking in his first-ever local pro match, also signed up.
We took up residence behind the Ft. Lauderdale goal and started watching. Then about 30 minutes in, there was announcement over the PA system. "Michael Rand and [name not distinguished]" please report for the halftime situation. Wessel was immediately upset, but little did he know ...
So we went to the place we were supposed to go, and we're pretty sure the other contestant didn't show up. So instead, they found a last-second fill-in. We were immediately suspicious because she had a soccer warmup jacket on and, well, looked like a soccer player. We were wearing canvas shoes, and we have never played a competitive soccer match in our lives unless you count half a season of college intramurals. She was also very nervous. She clearly did not want to lose. In fact, she tried to bribe us: "I'll buy you a beer if you let me win," she said, to which we replied: "I don't think you're going to have to do that in order to win."
The contest was fairly simple: Take a giant soccer ball at midfield, dribble it around a flag, dribble it into the middle around another flag, and kick it in. First one wins. The chaos, however, ensues at the second flag when the two competitors theoretically meet. That happened last night, and we are here to report that our ball was BLATANTLY knocked away by a very fierce competitor, which we do not believe is within the official rules. As luck would have it, there are not just still images of this amusing debacle; there is a video shot, unbeknownst to us, by the hero @Whitcomb:
After it was over, we came to find out that we were competing against Katie Bethke -- a former Gophers soccer player who now plays professionally in Europe. No wonder she was deathly afraid of losing to a floppy-shoed sportswriter! Whether that knock-away constitutes cheating is most certainly in dispute (in a good-natured way, of course ... it was more fun and certainly funnier because of the way we lost):
The Stars ended up losing 2-1; the real kicker (no pun intended) is that we ended up missing Footloose because it was apparently shown earlier in the evening than anticipated. Upon further review when we got home, however, it appears they were showing the NEW version of the movie in the park instead of the classic Kevin Bacon version. All in all, we probably dodged a bullet on that one.