On a cold and rainy night at the swamps of the Meadowlands, this was the final performance on the soccer side at Giants Stadium. Yes the season has been lost since the middle of June, but that doesn’t mean the club can’t try to play for pride and knock off Toronto FC from the playoffs. At the same time former Real Madrid & Barcelona midfielder Albert Celades announced his retirement from the game and even though this match would end an era in the tri-state area, the players wanted to win this for the supporters as well for Celades as a send off present.
Both Juan Pablo Angel & Macoumba Kandji earned braces in this match to power past Toronto FC. For Kandji it was a second minute tally getting a nice ball played towards him from Celades and with two defenders on him smacked the match winner inside the far post. On his second goal in the seventieth minute he was able to take advantage from a mental error by the defender. Kandji was attacking as he side stepped the keeper and tapped home his second of the night and fourth of the season.
Once again it was another fabulous performance from Juan Pablo Angel who never gives up no matter where the club is positioned on the eastern conference table. A brilliant strike in the thirty-third minute when Kandji fed him the ball from the near side, Angel quickly settles and a side foot smack inside the far post for his eleventh of the season. In the Sixty-Second minute during the run of play it was Jeremy Hall slotting a pass towards Angel and when he got towards goal, it was another hard shot past TFC keeper Brian Edwards and inside the near post.
But of course the final goal of the night would come in stoppage time & I can give you the answer to this trivia question. Matthew Mbuta converted a spot kick inside second half stoppage time as the last player to score a goal in Giants Stadium. It wasn’t Juan Pablo Angel who was subbed out in the first minute of stoppage time; it wasn’t even Albert Celades who subbed out in the second minute of stoppage time. It will be Matthew Mbuta’s name that will live in infamy.
In a warm and dry press box I was informed that at halftime former US Internationals Tony Meola & Tab Ramos along with former French International Youri Djorkaeff who played for the MetroStars and currently RBNY gave us their time and shared some memories playing at Giants Stadium. But while they were nostalgic discussing this stadium they were excited and happy to talk about Red Bull Arena coming next year to start the new MLS Season.
While this was a happy moment for RBNY to deliver a final victory for the supporters and leave on a good note, I have a pretty good feeling that those back in Toronto & those who traveled to the match from the northern border were not happy at all. This was suppose to be an improved side that had a playoff birth wrapped up and all they needed to do was to win against a side that has had a horrible year with bad defense and barely scoring more than a goal or two this season. I honestly don’t know what was said in the locker room after the match, but I know that General Manager Mo Johnston made the trip & I really believe he read the riot act against his side that should’ve taken home any form of points to reach the playoffs for the first time in club history.
Finally this is what I have to say about Giants Stadium. With all the history this building has been apart of. All the fabulous things that we have seen in the old NASL days of the New York Cosmos, international friendly matches, the 1994 World Cup, the 1999 Women’s World Cup, 2003 US Open Cup Final, some CONCACAF Gold Cup matches and two finals. It’s going to be a small sad day when they tear it apart. But to be honest I’m not going to shed a tear.
This stadium was made for the NFL side New York Giants and they got lucky that the New York Jets wanted out of Shea Stadium and agreed to pay rent. The Cosmos phenomenon with Pele, Beckenbauer, Messing, Roth and so many others during that era made that stadium sparkle and sadly this club was jinxed and couldn’t capture that. It might have been home in some sense but to be honest it never felt like it when security guards intentionally threw out the fans, because they like this sport. You felt like a bunch of outsiders coming to a stadium that is well known in both the NFL & World Football. Now this area is going to get the stadium that they truly deserve and it will be spectacular. This will have a European feel, but it will be all American.