Last night, I attended my first New York Red Bull game; in fact, it was my first ever Major League Soccer (MLS) game. I guess you could say it was a monumental step taken towards American football/soccer for this footy addict. My wonderful wife, centered on my happiness, managed to get tickets to the NYRB versus Chivas USA game at the Red Bull Arena.
According to the hype created by MLS and people involved in media, US soccer is extensively broadening its presence when it comes to football in the global stage. We all know how the US national team had fared in the past few World Cups. But how does the national league perform?
Will have to admit, I was convinced. And if it swayed me away after watching a single game of mediocre importance, then my imagination could only run wild when the likes of LA Galaxy or DC United play against NYRB or Seattle Sounders.
The crowd, the performance on the pitch, the atmosphere and the overall feeling were just breathtaking. The crowd had its own composition to it. The passion demonstrated broke all the misconceptions I had in regards to the sport in the US.
It had a different feel compared to that of which one would observe at the games in the UAE.
The crowd back home will always stand out though – the acoustic of one person on the drums while another constantly singing the clubs songs all throughout the game in Arabic on a loud speaker. Nothing beats that. Would even get a non-Arabic speaker going.
What was astonishing was the fact that a magnificent stadium like Red Bull Arena was only built in a few years time. When you compare this to the stadiums in the financially strong country of UAE, except for the one, which is the home to Al Jazira in Abu Dhabi, nothing really stands out.
It was good to see Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez in action again. Though, it seemed like they were more off in a relaxed state of mentality on the field. The zealousness that was visible in their earlier days was not there anymore. It could either be due to the age or simply because they did not feel the need to showcase it.
The game was also a homecoming to Juan Pablo Angel (former Aston Villa striker) – the Chivas captain, who had scored 50 + goals while he represented NYRB from 2007 – 2010. The fan’s appreciation of his service to the club was quite evident as a banner thanking him went around the stadium prior to and after the game. He repaid his respect to the fans by scoring a wonderful goal. Fast-forward to 4:00 to watch the goal below.
After scoring, Angel did not pull out “the Adebayor”, but raised his hands as a gesture in which it seemed like he was saying sorry and thank you at the same time.
I do understand the fact that it’s not reasonable to take in one game and have a solid understanding of what I had just witnessed and base my conclusions on that.
And to me, that is wonderful. This was truly a great first impression.