When Peter Bridgwater, a former English policeman and now a Bay Area soccer promoter, learned that the World Cup was coming to Stanford Stadium, his wish was for the United States to meet England there on Monday.
England, alas, did not qualify for the tournament. So he made another wish--for the United States to meet Brazil there on Monday.
"I'm over the moon," said Bridgwater, the World Cup's Palo Alto venue director, when that second-round matchup became a reality earlier this week.
On Friday, inside the trailer next to the stadium that serves as his temporary office, Bridgwater seemed more under the gun.
"I'm still very excited," he said. "It's \o7 the \f7 game of the tournament, and, for us, it's like having the final here. But, as amazing as it seems, who would have thought you couldn't find a marching band on July 4?"
There are other problems.
One of the first things he did after learning the United States would be playing in Palo Alto on Monday was invite President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. They have not accepted. But neither have they turned him down. He said he would like for them to RSVP ASAP so that he and his security staff could begin preparing.
But on Friday, his most pressing problems concerned pregame and halftime shows.
He initially thought about putting on a red, white and blue extravaganza before remembering that there will be a team on the field that is not celebrating the Fourth of July. So he ordered two massive flags to be unfurled before the game, one from the United States and one from Brazil.
To give the game a holiday flavor, he also arranged for fireworks to be set off after the national anthems.
But he is still negotiating with the Defense Department for a pregame fly-over, and, he lamented, there are no marching bands to be found anywhere.
"Most of them are booked on that day," he said.
How about the Stanford band?
"I respect the Stanford band," he said, diplomatically, "but I think they're on vacation."