Saturday night, I was inside the brand spanking new stadium for this Red Bull New York from the press box that is located camera side, behind the player’s benches along with the rest of the spectators. A sold out 25,000 seat stadium located along the banks of the Passaic River that is a PATH train ride away from lower Manhattan & the World Trade Center station.
Every single seat in this brand new Arena was filled. There were Brazilian ex-pats and visiting Santos FC fans filling up the away supporters section. The ESC (Empire Supporters Club) & Garden State Supporters club filled the lower level behind the southside goal and once you heard the crowd noise build from within you know this was a proper football ground. In attendance US Olympic Gold Medalist Lindsay Vonn, Running back Reggie Bush of the NFL’s Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints, Former German International & NY Cosmos defender Franz Beckenbauer.
So much hype and hoopla was answered. This feeling that I had, the media had and the entire supporters of this club had, is that this was finally home. This new Arena that has been pushed aside time after time by typical New Jersey Politics, so many times the supporters have been disappointed that a start date for construction was never made, but now it’s finally completed and the clubs first opponent in their new Arena is Pele’s club Santos F.C.
The action got off to a bit of a slow start, but an early chance for RBNY would loom large. A foul drawn by Ibrahim Salou just outside the Santos area gives them the first free kick of the match. In the 11th minute Estonian International Joel Lindpere would take the free kick and hits the wall, but the hard shot would rebound back to a hustling Lindpere & he blasts it past the keeper for the very first goal in Red Bull Arena history.
Since that goal was scored, RBNY never took their feet off the gas pedal. So many runs made by the club & they kept on attacking & attacking & attacking. They had many chances to add to their totals; but when it was time to defend, the backline came up big and Bouna Coundoul made sure that any shot would never get thru. Rookie Centerback Tim Ream from St. Louis, Missouri looked so cool and calm he never had a nervous twitch when pressured by Neymar and Santos.
Two more goals would register at the back end of the first half and this time the defense would score some offense. 44th minute corner at the near end for RBNY. Carl Robinson sends it towards the area and Tim Ream heads it towards goal, but out of nowhere Bohemia, NY native Mike Petke sidefoots it inside the near post and the club is up by two.
But a minute later another attacking run started by Sinisa Ubiparipovic, he finds Macoumba Kandji and instead of making a run, Kandji finds a wide open Dane Richards and just as he gets the ball Richards rips a hard, bending laser that nails the inside of the near corner of the net for the three goals to nil lead. This was a friendly and I understand, but if this is what Head Coach Hans Backe envisioned then my goodness this could be a fun 2010 season.
Sitting in the pressbox at Red Bull Arena I got goosebumps & butterflies in my stomach all at once. I choked up twice and nearly broke down crying. I nearly had tears of joy when I was sitting in my new home for the game in the USA. There was no performence stage on one side of the stadium. You can hear the crowd and the supporters all night long with the roof. I might have been in the USA, but I have to admit that there was a time I thought I was in Europe.
More Red Bull Arena photos and videos will be shown here on MLS Talk during the week.
Tuesday, March 23rd 2:00PM EST
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