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The Anxiety of Preparing to Attend an Away Match

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Is it anxiety, excitement, or a little bit of both that has me procrastinating with the packing?

MLS: Orlando City SC at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Can you feel it? The mix of excitement and anxiety as we prepare for the away game in Atlanta hangs in our house heavy, almost suffocating.

For us, preparing to attend the away match in Atlanta is quite the ordeal. It starts with the laundry that I inevitably wait until the night before to wash. You’d think it would be easy to grab a couple of outfits for the weekend and be on our way, but it never is.

See, when we were 18, my (now) husband and I went on a vacation with my family to Hilton Head, SC. I know, so boring. He brought along his favorite pillow to ensure a good night’s sleep away from home. He left the pillow at the rental house, which the rental company “didn’t recover.” Not a lot of things get to my husband, but this? This was a big one and has impacted our trips almost 15 years later.

Now, anything that is packed, needs to be packed, or has the potential to be packed must first be written on a list. After items have made the list, they’re packed and checked off, then the list is rewritten in preparation for packing up to come home — not just for the two of us, but for our dogs too.

Since we’ve gone down this packing rabbit hole, let’s talk about packing for an away match as a fan, shall we? I have three Orlando City jerseys: a 2015 one, a Dwyer 2018, and a custom 2019. I’ve been wearing the Bring the Noise kit all season, but I have undoubtedly packed all three. I wear the same black Adidas leggings with all the jerseys to every match, but I’ve also packed two pairs of OCSC branded leggings that I have literally never worn in public. So, there’s that.

There’s just something exciting about wanting to make sure you have everything you could possibly want or need before heading out on the road to support the Lions, especially when you’re about to be one of the few splashes of purple in a sea of red and black. Our road trips (to anywhere) usually end up looking a bit like this:

  • We’re super excited to be on a road trip and my husband is more than accepting of my pop-punk playlists.
  • He eats through all the snacks we’ve packed and asks if we can move to a more scream-o playlist.
  • I get to be a little too much screaming along with said scream-o playlist.
  • He puts on a scary audio book (I can’t do horror) and I’m set to re-watch The Office on my phone for the millionth time. Fun fact, to save on streaming (if for some reason you don’t have an unlimited plan) you can download episodes or movies from Netflix temporarily.

What are your favorite playlists for road trips? My parents always (literally always) had to play Turn the Page by Bob Seger a minimum of 20 times when we traveled.

After the excitement, the anxiety sets in — not just the packing and traveling anxiety, but the thought of the match itself. Think about just how much our supporter groups seriously hate Atlanta United fans and what it must be like for Atlanta fans when they come to an Orlando City match. It works both ways. First, there’s the anxious ride on the MARTA to Mercedes-Benz Stadium as you stand shoulder to shoulder in a packed car with no other purple in sight. Even the family members with whom we’re attending will be in stripes.

From there, I’m left wondering and worrying about whether I’ll actually be able to see the match. Last time we were there we had front row seats on the 300 concourse (third level) and couldn’t see anything. So this time we are trying the next level down club seats and crossing our fingers for a better soccer watching experience. I know I’ve said it many times before, but I’ll take mid-July Florida matches in the purple plastic seats over the AC at Mercedes-Benz every time.

Lastly, there’s the anxiety of the game itself. Atlanta had a shaky start to the season but has won three of its last four matches, whereas OCSC has a win, a draw, and two losses over the last four matches. There’s the anxiety of wondering who will make up the ever-changing starting lineup and which team will we see — first- or second-half OCSC vs. Toronto? What tricks could the team and coaching staff possibly have up their sleeves to make this happen? Then there’s the anxiety of knowing the Lions must face Seattle only three days later, on the road. No, that’s not all. They then have to come home and play FC Cincinnati Sunday. It’s all really too much, but writing it out has me breathing a little better at least.

Whether you’re watching at home or headed to Georgia to see the guys play in person, I think we can all agree that the excitement of a game day tends to outweigh the anxiety for the time being. Is anyone else headed up? Say hi if you see us!

Now for the real question, do I or don’t I pack my headband? Who are we kidding? I haven’t worn it all season so obviously I’m packing it. These away carry-ons seem small, but fortunately they tend to work like Hermione’s bag with the undetectable extension charm. See you on the other side of the Atlanta match, friends!