The Greatest Story Never Told: Aboard Air Bradley One

It’s soccer Christmas Eve and Dan Wiersema from The Free Beer Movement has quite the read for you below. If you don’t know Dan or The Free Beer Movement, you’re really missing out on one of the cooler soccer sites out there. Enjoy.

Now our boys are safely in Irene, South Africa, checked into their hotel, and begun their final preparations for the World Cup Finals we can reveal this….

We’ve managed to piece together the flight of the U.S. Men’s National Team on their way to South Africa.

Sure you’ve seen the “Studio 90” clip of the squad boarding the plane, reviewing game tapes, and magically arriving one minute and 12 seconds later across the world, but what really happened on South African Airways Flight 208 aka Air Bradley One?

By way of bugging the cabin, interviews with the flight crew, and a few well-placed inside-the-team-sources we were able to get an inside look at the sixteen hour flight of our USMNTers and the coaching staff.

Hour 1: Plane Boarding, Stowing of Baggage, Settling In

Coach Sweatpants: Alright boys this is your last chance to have a cigarette before we board this bad boy. Clark… I know you’re trying to quit after getting burned in coverage against Turkey, but I know how cranky you get so you might as well have one, hell, have two, before we get on.

Everyone! Follow me to the plane!

Also, I don’t want any hustling and bustling to fight over seats. If you look over the seating chart I’ve made based on where Matthew from The Shin Guardian put you then there should be no questions as to who’s where. You got that Bornstein?

Sweatpants walks down the gang way as Findley and Gomez start elbowing to get in front of each other. Bradley takes a seat in first-class as the rest of the team files in past him.

First-Class (roughly based on TSG’s “Boarding Pass” series): Coach Bob Bradley, Tim Howard, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Carlos Bocanegra.

Business Class: Oguchi Onyewu, Maurice Edu, Stu Holden, Steve Cherundolo, Jay DeMerit, Jose Francisco Torres, DaMarcus Beasley, and Brad Guzan.

Coach (Ironically!) Class: Jonathon Spector, Ricardo Clark, Robert Findley, Herculez Gomez, Clarence Goodson, Marcus Hahnemann, Benny Feilhaber, Jonathon Bornstein, and Edson Buddle.

All of a sudden a scuffle breaks out between Edson Buddle and Marcus Hahnemann. Hahnemann punches Buddle whose lip breaks open again and starts bleeding. Coach Bob Bradley runs back to the back of the plane.

Coach Sweatpants: God dammnit, boys! Follow the seating chart! Buddle, get a band-aid and an ice pack and then sit your ass down in 24A. Marcus…. Marcus you we’re going to be my number two, but now you’re number three and you’re across the aisle in 24E. Kammarman you’re in 24C between these two babies.

Kammarman: But we’re by the lavatories. I hate the smell!

Sweatpants: I can leave you on the tarmac, Kammarman. Team spokesman is a made up position. I can speak just fine on my own.

Rest of the Team: Snickers. Laughter.

Just then the seatbelt light pops on and the squad takes a seat for pre-flight announcements.

Pilot: This is your Captain Speaking. Captain Bocanegra. No, ha ha. Just a joke… there aren’t two of us. My name is Captain Frank Lapidus and I hope you all have an enjoyable fight on Oceanic Air…. No South African Airlines. Yeah…. Just pay attention to the flight attendants for safety instructions.

During the whole safety explanation Michael Bradley is laying his best lines on the flight attendant in first class.

Sweatpants Jr.: So my dad is the coach of this here team. But I got this seat in first-class all on my own.

Janice, Flight Attendant: Please insert the tab into the slot and make sure the belt it tightened.

Sweatpants Jr.: That’s what she said.

Janice: That’s going to get you nowhere, pre-mature baldy.

Sweatpants Jr.: Darn…. (Slumps in chair.)

Hours 2 and 3: Beverage Service

Janice (to First Class): What can I get everybody?

Sweatpants Jr.: Oh… you know…

Janice: Can it, daddy’s boy.

Coach Sweatpants: Yes. May I have a mimosa, please? You know something sweet, but with a kick.

Donovan: Agreed on the sweet with a kick, Coach. Get me a Red Bull and vodka. Just like my Cali days!

Howard: LD10, that’s better not keep you up all night.

Donovan (installing discoball to the plane cabin roof): Naw… I’m planning on catching some Zs.

Jozy Altidore took some Ambien and is sleeping like a baby. At this point Clint Dempsey who’s been unsuccessfully trying to get Bocanegra to take a pull of his bottle of Jack Daniel sneaks out of first class.

Coach Sweatpants: Whatever you do…. no alcohol service to any of those jokers behind us. Kammarman included.

Janice: Of course, sir.

Deuce passes through business class where DeMerit and Beasley are playing chess.

Dempsey: Psst….‘Dolo, Stewie, Davey Crockett. Come on back to coach.

The four of them creep on back to coach as Janice comes into business class.

Janice: Gentlemen there is no alcohol service today. Can I get you anything else?

Beasely: That’s just fine, my dear. I’ve given up drinking ever since my car was firebombed in Scotland. That’s sobering. Can I have a glass of water?

DeMerit (taking of professorial reading glasses): Perhaps some green tea?

Gooch: I’ll have the same.

Janice: Something for your neck squirrel?

Gooch: No, thank you. He’s fine.

Hour 6: Meanwhile back in coach…..

Janice: I’m sorry to inform you, but there will be no alcohol service on today’s flight.

Buddle (behind his ice pack): What?

Deuce: No worries, men. I’ve brought provisions.

Dempsey zips open his official U.S. Soccer duffle bag to reveal about twenty 40 oz bottles of Lone Star, “the National Beer of Texas”.

Goodson: Oh, hells yeah…

Torres: Nice move, Onion Rings.

Kammarman sensing a public relations disaster tries to get up and warm Coach Bradley.

Clark (already having nicotine withdrawal): Just where do you think you’re going, pencil neck? Duct tape!

Stu: Are we playing Edward 40-Hands?

Clark: No we’re silencing the snitch.

Kammarman: Wait! No! Mmmrph….. Mmmmrph…..

Hour 7: Up in First Class…..

Coach Sweatpants (to Howard, Bocanegra, Donovan, and a snoring Altidore): Turkey’s wide midfielder (red circle) is driving up the wing having beaten Bradley (blue, right) who is now on the floor. Clark (blue, left) has overcommitted and gotten caught behind the play so DeMerit (teal, right) has had to step out into the midfield to cover…..

Howard: Yeah I see it. Good work, “Tuesday” on the scouting reports. LD10 you see it?

Donovan (in headphones, to self): Unce… unce… unce. Time for the rave globe! (Twirls hands furiously in spherical shape. Looks up at Howard and Sweatpants.) Yeah, yeah I see it. I’d like to see more awareness from the other midfielders of when I stay in an advanced position so the wide midfielder can tuck in and the midfield line can shift across so the fullback isn’t as isolated as Spector (yellow) frequently was during the first half.

Bocanegra (to Howard): Told you he was still listening.

Hour 8: Game Tape in Business Class

Gooch, Edu, DeMerit, Guzan, and Beasley are all taking massive amounts of notes in their “Hello Kitty” notebooks in hopes of getting the start June 5th.

Lame! Moving on back….

Hour 9: Party in the Back!

Torres: Tequilla! Woo hoo!

Bornstein: Wow… that is too stereotypical.

Torres: STFU Johnny otherwise we’ll drop you off in Honduras.

Bornstein: At least they still like me there….

Deuce: Shots!

Stu: Uh oh….

At this point Benny Feilhaber trying to finish his beer drops and breaks one of the bottles. Coach Sweatpants, clearly drunk from the two mimosas he’s had, shows up out of nowhere.

Coach Sweatpants: What the hell is going on back here? Kammarman! I told you to keep an eye on these guys. Stop screwing around! (Tears duct tape of his mouth).

Kammarman: Owww! My Sacha Kljestan look-a-like mustache!

Coach Sweatpants: I didn’t want to do this…. Team-mandated nap time. Four hours! I’m not having this team end up like the 1974 Holland squad.

Hours 10 – 14: Nap Time

Stu: Hey, Deuce…. You asleep?

Dempsey: No. You?

Stu: No…. I got a plan…..

Final Hours of the Flight:

Quietly Stu and Deuce slip the remains of Dempsey’s Jack Daniels into Bornstein’s 40.

Bornstein: Man this stuff is getting me drunk! Hey look at me I can man-mark Wayne Rooney! Ha ha!

Hotel Arrival:

The team arrives at Irene Country Lodge. Bornstein is stumbling all over the place. He pukes on Sweatpant and Kammarman.

Sweatpants: Dammit Bornstein! These were my best pair of sweatpants. Now what am I going to wear to meet Nelson Mandela?

Kammarman: Awww… Clinton really liked these shoes! Ruined… now I’ve only got that pair of slipon on shoes that Nike gave up on three years ago….

Sweatpants: That’s it Bornstein. It’s time your learned how to drink AND defend like a real man.

(Claps hands)

A passerby in the lobby peaks out from behind a surfboard.

Passerby: Yeah dude?

The right man for the job.

Team: FRANKIE!

(Everyone laughs. Bornstein passes out. Team jumps for air high-five like the end of a “Saved by the Bell” episode.)

Fade Out.

Filed Under: June 2010

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  • Amy

    Howard: “Told you he was still listening.” Awesome

  • taylor

    that was classic. i haven’t laughed aloud by myself in a while

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