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New Article: From SE7 to NYC

Hello, to continue on from my article on Verona, I mixed it up recently by going Stateside and visiting some familiar faces...

New York Red Bulls are one of the USA's most famous teams. What is less known is that they actually play in New Jersey and until 2006 they wore black and red and were known as the New York MetroStars. That was when Red Bull arrived and sucked all identity from the 'Metros'. See also Salzburg and Leipzig.

Therefore the Red Bulls weren't top of my to-do list in the States but it would have been rude not to see Lloyd Sam, Ruben Bover-Izquierdo and try to tell Bradley Wright-Phillips that he's still better than Shaun. Although in another state, the 25’000 capacity Red Bull Arena is easily reached from Manhattan and cuts an impressive figure in what is a desolate wasteland with no nearby amenities. Annoyingly the Metros are also not allowed to take part in the American tradition of tailgating. This means getting to a ground early, parking up and getting drunk with either beer you've brought or buying from a stall.

Although unsure I paid my £15 to sit in the 'supporters' area'. In here you are expected to sing, while various purported ultra banners greet your arrival. The concourse behind is spacious and offers not only permanent food and beer outlets but multiple independent ones. This means small queues and although a beer costs £8 the fact you can drink at your seat made a couple worth purchasing. Smokers can go outside to light up.


Taking my place early, Bradley unfortunately didn't make it within shouting distance in the warm-up. I asked a neighbour for his thoughts; Wright-Phillips is not hugely popular, often wasteful but a 'menace'. Considering he was at Charlton only a year ago little would have changed. During the game someone called Lloyd Sam 'the fastest man alive but terrible at soccer'. That raised a smile.

Houston Dynamo were the visitors and I saw a total of 3 away supporters who'd either travelled the 1600 miles or lived in town. I overheard a home fan talking about an upcoming trip to Columbus that involved 3 buses overnight and the same returning. It does make you appreciate our 'long' journeys to the north more so, often long distance games are tied together so for example Houston played in relatively nearby Philadelphia prior. Both Dynamo and the Red Bulls had had a stuttering start to the season so the game didn't promise much in terms of excitement. Thankfully that turned into a promise broken.

We rose for the national anthem. With three 'capos' or leaders taking their places at the front of the stand the noise began immediately on the whistle. I joined in before realising it was the same chant as Crystal Palace's (‘that’s the way we like, we like it’), feeling dirty and keeping silent until the eighth minute when they finally changed song. By this time New York had imposed themselves on the game, Houston being poor enough to make Lloyd Sam look dangerous. As at Charlton though, he can take players on but refused to reach the bye-line and whip a ball in. He instead prefers to cut inside and chip, otherwise pass backwards.


Others had more success and in the 12th minute the vocal home fans were rewarded after a low Thierry Henry cross found... Bradley Wright-Phillips. A simple tap-in, the supporters celebrated by bringing down a large banner from the back to cover a few hundred people. It was surreal to see this combination of players, to say the least. On the resumption of play the fans began a strange chant of "Yes! Yes! Yes!" while pointing to the sky.

Wright-Phillips scored again 12 minutes later, another goal where a New York player got behind the defence and drilled in a low ball. He could have had another when one of Sam's chips found his head, the effort going tamely over though. With the game settling I was able to take stock of my surroundings and digest a few of the chants.

The lead 'capo' had an actual list of songs in his pocket. His accomplice on my left-hand side was resplendent in a replica shirt and plastic Viking horns with camp dancing to complete the look. I don't think that would go down well in Poland. Many of the chants were familiar, albeit with more lyrics. For example 'Just Can't Get Enough', The Ramones’ 'I Wanna Be Sedated' and erm, 'Karma Chameleon' were very similar to the original versions except for a few words.

Their edition of 'Since I Was Young' went something along the lines of 'We are the boys, who make some noise'. Abuse of the opposition was scathing too - 'Deep in the heart of Texas, all day and night, Houston sucks at football'. A lot of them seemed to like dancing.


It was 2-0 at half-time with the Red Bulls shooting our way after the break. Houston toiled but never troubled then in the 65th minute Henry put Wright-Phillips through, his shot being parried for the Frenchman to convert. This time a couple of smoke bombs were let off. I felt guilty cheering for an Arsenal stalwart but at least ex-Millwall scummer Tim Cahill wasn't on the pitch.

So, would BWP be able to 'record' another and complete his hattrick? He could have, he could have scored half a dozen in total. Lloyd Sam went off to be replaced by Ruben Bover, the latter instantly causing problems before scoring in the 86th minute. Celebrating wildly, he charged to the corner while the referee disallowed the goal. Was there an offside, a foul..? No, a penalty for New York.

Wright-Phillips of course took it, placing it coolly to his top-left. "Yes! Yes! Yes!" Despite his muted celebrations he must have been elated, and I'm sure far more content with life than if he'd moved to somewhere like MK Dons or Coventry. He was taken off before the final whistle to a standing ovation.


4-0 was the final score and Alicia Keys' 'Empire State of Mind' a nice touch over the PA. USA is far from my most adventurous tick but it proved to be one of the most unique. If you do find yourself in New York then simply take the PATH train from the World Trade Center. Who knows, you may even get to see Lloyd Sam reach the bye-line.


  • Great article RP. A line up that included Lloyd Sam alongside Thierry Henry for me is the perfect definition of surreal.
  • If you do find yourself in New York then simply take the PATH train from the World Trade Center.

    SEE, just follow the PATH and you will find......

  • During the game someone called Lloyd Sam 'the fastest man alive but terrible at soccer'


    Love that quote !

    Great piece RedP, cheers pal
  • The 'yes' chant is taken from WWE, heard it has spread to pretty much any sporting event in the states now
  • During the game someone called Lloyd Sam 'the fastest man alive but terrible at soccer'


    Love that quote !

    Great piece RedP, cheers pal

    I must be missing something, every time I saw Lloyd Sam play he barely broke out of third gear.

    He was a decent enough player but not exactly speedy by any means.
  • Fascinating, great stuff, RP
  • edited May 2014
    Superb report and pictures, RedPanda. Your mention of tail-gating reminds me of an observation from the Italian keeper Dino Zoff, who said you can tell that American 'sports' aren't real sports because all the punters pitch up at the stadium and consume vast quantities of food before entering. "At football, you can't eat anything before watching the game because your stomach is knotted with excitement and anticipation."

    Brilliant that you copped a BWP hat-trick. If I had been at Blackpool the other week for Harriott's three, I too would have pointed at the sky and chanted: "Yes, Yes, Yes!".
  • I was at a PDL (level below the MLS) game on Saturday in Austin Texas, the American soccer experience is definitely different - but it seems the sport is growing in popularity and has a certain hipness about it.

    Austin were PDL Champions last season but lost their head coach, Paul Dalglish, to an MSL club. Their roster was brimming with young English players who had failed to make the grade back home and who were now getting a college education and playing professional football - not a bad gig.

    Am actually now in Vancouver and have just noticed Toronto FC are playing here tonight (Defoe etc) - unfortunately I cannot make it.
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  • Great read RP.
  • 'Deep in the heart of Texas, all day and night, Houston sucks at football'

    An actual laugh out loud moment reading that.

    MLS is a really interesting league and the fans are decent, especially if you head over to the west coast where Seattle and Portland often sell out.
  • Going to see the all-time Charlton III this Saturday when they're in Toronto. Thanks for the preview of what I'm in for! I suspect there may be more of a crowd this weekend than you witnessed in the wilds of New Jersey...
  • This reminded me of a book I once read (I know!) called playing for pizza, about an american football player plying his trade in Italy. I know nothing about american football, but it's a good read.
  • There's a great film, Pelada, about two Americans travelling the world finding football games in which to play. This includes a prison in Latin America that is effectively run by the inmates. When they get to Iran, the woman is told off for playing in a men's game, but she does manage to find an illegal women's game. On returning to the US, she tries out for the new women's professional league but doesn't make the cut.
  • Saga Lout said:

    This reminded me of a book I once read (I know!) called playing for pizza, about an american football player plying his trade in Italy. I know nothing about american football, but it's a good read.

    Playing for Pizza is a very good read. Not at all what you would expect from John Grisham.

  • Whilst on an American tip....thought some of you guys would be interested of these photos of the old abandoned Detroit Tigers NFL Stadium:
  • And also on an American tip. A fantastic US sports book is Heaven Is A Playground, about the NY playground basketball scene of the Seventies.
  • Really enjoyed reading that, Red Panda.

    Look forward to your next episode!
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  • Thanks for the write up, was good to see how they have progressed.

    I was there in 2007 when they played in the Giants stadium, 80,000 seater for 5,000 fans, was a bit soulless to say the least. Watched Clint Dempsey tear the Red bulls apart for New England Revolution.

    Must say, to anyone visiting the States make sure you try and watch a footy game.
  • Thanks for the comments. Apparently there were leaflets being handed out today to Arsenal fans asking them to do the 'Yes!' thing. I didn't know it had come from the WWE. The Nigels will probably be all over it next season.
  • Sat way too far away to let Bradley know how much better he was than Shaun. Managed the Charlton hat-trick of seeing Bover, Sam and BWP all play though. Defoe's great finish at 2:39, BWP's howler of a miss at 3:47...
  • Thinking of going to a match in May. What block did you sit in @RedPanda ?
  • edited February 2015
    My ticket's at home, looking at a map it was block 101 or 102. I bought it at the ground about two hours before kickoff.

    As you're going in May I'm guessing it to be a normal season game, so you should be able to do the same. Otherwise their website also sells tickets.

    You get the PATH train from World Trade Centre to Harrison, that takes 10/15 minutes. It's then a 10 minute walk to the ground, you can't miss it.
  • Nice one. They have New York City early May but I think it's more likely we'll go late May .
  • I got the train from Penn Station to Newark Penn where there is a free shuttle bus service that takes you to the arena. Definitely worth going to watch and as Red Panda states, all of the action takes place in the supporters area of the ground (We didn't have tickets for that area but sat in there for the 2nd half)
  • Only just seen this - a great article. Still hard to believe the ex-Charlton, erm, legends playing with Mr Henry...Thanks RP.
  • The Detroit Lions stadium pics were fascinating, very sad to see despite their new ground and Valleyesque during our exile, there is something fascinating about abandoned stadiums. Last time I was in Detroit I think it had been levelled?

    anyway great article and I will be going to a sporting KC game when I am over there later this year.
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