After a year of living in London and attending quite a few matches, I came home to my native New York just in time for the biggest fixture on the New York soccer calendar, the Hudson River Derby between New York City Football Club (NYCFC) and New York Red Bulls.
I attended six London derbies this year of varying intensity and hatred between the two sets of supporters. I attended three at White Hart Lane (against Crystal Palace, Chelsea and West Ham), two away derbies with Spurs (Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and Queen’s Park Rangers at Loftus Road), and one as a “neutral” (a Good Friday Southeast London Derby in the Championship between Millwall and Charlton at The Den).
I was curious to see what the atmosphere of a MLS derby was like and how it compared to London derbies.
Before this, I had never really given MLS much of a chance as I often needed a break from soccer after the Premier League season ended and the subsequent major international tournaments. Some readers of this website might label me a “Eurosnob” but this year I am making a conscious effort to try and follow MLS and its growing tradition. Unfortunately, as a Tottenham supporter who was raised by his father to root for Boston sports teams, specifically the Boston Red Sox, it is pretty hard for me to get behind either of the New York teams (please feel free to persuade me one way or the other in the comments). So, I decided to take this in as a neutral but root for NYCFC (as much as it pained me to root for a team owned by the Yankees) as they were the home team.
Entering the stadium was quite different from what I was accustomed to in England as all fans were forced to go through a metal detector to gain entry. I never was subjected to a metal detector on any of my five away days with Tottenham, although I was subjected to bomb-sniffing dogs at Stamford Bridge and two body searches in Florence. I also never had to go through any checks to enter any home ends so this caught me a little off guard.
Upon entering Yankee Stadium, the cramped concourses, disgusting toilets, miniscule leg room and vomitus food at London grounds like Craven Cottage, Loftus Road and White Hart Lane were gone to be replaced by a wide variety of delicious food, ample leg room and a cavernous Yankee Stadium. In terms of comfort, Yankee Stadium is way superior to any stadium in London except maybe Wembley and Emirates Stadium. Unfortunately, Yankee Stadium was designed for baseball and not soccer and that detracted from the overall experience and atmosphere of the match.