The England fan had a flag draped across his shoulders, a beer in each hand, and had just finished bellowing a song at a passing group of Ecuador supporters when he glanced around at Sun Life Stadium's dim concourse and echoed what many Three Lions backers surely felt at halftime. "The atmosphere is crap here!" he hollered. "How can you get a song going out there when there's no roof to keep the sound in?"
Wembley it ain't. Still, the Dolphins' home was infected with a mild dose of World Cup fever yesterday as England and Ecuador kicked the tires and fine-tuned their formations in a friendly that drew 20,000 to Miami Gardens. There was even a slight international incident when every England player's passport number was accidentally included in the press kit.
Somehow the identity-theft-encouraging information was included on the team sheets and then tweeted out to the world by Vauxhall, a sponsor of the England team. A Vauxhall spokesman told the British media: "We realized we made a mistake immediately and the tweet was deleted from our account within a minute. We have apologized to the FA for any embarrassment caused."
If Frank Lampard wakes up to find a credit card receipt with a $50,000 tab at King of Diamonds this morning, it doesn't necessarily mean the squad had a wild night out.
For England fans who live in the States, at least, Wednesday's match was their best shot at catching in person Jack Wilshire patrolling the midfield. The combination of strict U.S. residency rules and Brazil's complex visa applications meant getting to the World Cup itself was impossible for fans such as Tim Mason, a Brit who's lived in L.A. for the past four years.
"It's the first time they've come to America since I've been here," said Mason, a Northampton native clad in a vintage Umbro England kit. "We're staying at a hostel in South Beach and have met tons of other expats who came to Miami for the same reason."
The Brits certainly won the flag contest; Sun Life's walls were draped with banners from supporters' clubs hailing from Scunthorpe to Norwich to Notts County. Roof or no, the England section gamely sang into the humid afternoon after goals by Wayne Rooney and Rickie Lambert.
But there's no doubt which team was the home team at Sun Life. Ecuador fans decked out in yellow, blue, and red -- a mixed group of Miami immigrants and Ecuadorans in town for the match -- filled three-fourths of the park to cheer on El Tri.
The South Americans' stirring comeback -- with a golazo from Michael Arroyo to tie the game 2-2, where the contest would finish -- left supporters hopeful about emerging from a soft group stage at the World Cup.
"I think we'll get out of the group," said Javier Tacle, a Guayaquil resident in town on vacation. "I feel good after watching them today."
In the concourses, Ecuadoran fans draped in flags and belting out their own songs battled to drown out England supporters. Miami resident Juan Marques and his friend David tied flags around their necks and hollered a song toward a British enclave near the beer stands.
"I can't believe how much more Ecuadorian support is here," Marques said.
England will be back in Miami Gardens this Saturday for its final warmup, a 4:45 game against Honduras.
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