Friday, April 19, 2013

Oh Brooklyn, Brooklyn, Take Me In.

Well that was kind of a fun game.

So this was my fourth road trip match with Kansas City, the first being to Columbus in 2007, then Portland and te first match in New York last year, and now New York again. New York last year was the first match I'd seen a win on, so I wasn't all that confident I'd go 2/2 in NY, but we all know how that went...

But some background.

I had to go to New Jersey for work and it turned out I was gonna have to be out there Monday-Wednesday and fly back Thursday out of Newark. Soooo, perfect timing, right?

Got to the airport early Monday afternoon and guess who's on my flight?

So that was kind of cool. I didn't really say anything to anyone as I figure they're basically commuting to work anyway, but I wondered what would have happened if I wore my SKC jersey and just sort of hung around and mingled with them...

They seemed to be pretty normal guys. Most of them were sleeping. A few playing cards.Besler was on an ipad watching what seemed to be the NY-Dc games. I sat across from Uri who seemed to be doing some homework. All in all very normal, and a very quiet flight.

So two days of work and then the drive to Red Bull Arena. Traffic was decent, beautiful day, and we got there early enough that we got to meet up with some other traveling/transplant folks and do some pregame beers at ODonnel's, which is a neat little pub not too far from the stadium and I guess the unofficially official away supporters bar, since we've been asked not to mingle with NY supporters in other bars. Got my first Facebook "like" from Jimmy Nielsen as well. Dorkishly excited about that.

Walked in to the stadium around 6:45. Were originally told to go to Gate C, but then were told that due to the low attendance they weren't opening Gate C and we had to go to Gate B, which wasn't too bad, but doesn't bode well for NYs attendance problems...

Stadium was incredibly empty. I know filling it up on a midweek game is tough in New York, but even still, I'd think in an area so populated they'd at least get 15k in there. But around 7:15 during player warmups it was all but empty...

After warmups for player introductions, they do this thing in New York I guess where they only announce a players first name and the fans are supposed to call back the players last name, but with only a few thousand fans (at most) there before kick off it was actually a little sad. I imagine it would be cool with a lot of fans present, but when the stadium is empty, just hearing players first names is really weird sounding. "Introducing your 2013 New York Red Bulls!" "Eric." "Brandon." "Tim." "Dax." "Marus." "THIERRY!!Y#@!!!"

Yeah. It was like that.

Banners went up and people took their seats. I think there were about 80 folks there. Many sat with the cauldron but a lot choose to sit below us in the section as well, which is fine, I guess, but it would have been cool to have had the biggest block as we could.

New York fans put up a good banner for Boston as well. I'm always a little cynical when it comes to using sporting events as remembrence for tradgedies, but it was cool to see non-the-less.

We got a LOT of security folks. We're badass, I guess. Dunno if it was related to Boston or what recently happened with San Jose and Portland fans or what. Maybe a combination. They were cool security guys though. I wound up talking to one for a little bit, apaprently his grandfather was a foudning member of Sporting Lisbon? Either way, good to banter with em, and they were cool.

 So that was basically the calm before the battle. Then. The battle.

Game started pretty well. SKC looked good in possession and tight defensively. Offense seemed to be more geared twoards short passes and linking through the middle while New York was dumping long balls over the top to Henry, which our defenders were doing well enough to cope with. Ref was letting players get physical, which I personally like but I know fans on both sides of the aisle had issues with (but what else is new.

Just like last year, Kansas City got ahead on a header (pun not intended) early on, which really put them in good position. With a defense like ours, an early road goal is huge. I was doubly happy about it  because I had Collin captaining my fantasy team this week.
And, honestly, I don't know that I have a whole lot more to say about it. Both teams played pretty well, and while I think we were a little lucky to get a point, CJ missed a few chances as well.One thing that's been discussed a bit was the time wasting and diving, and I think there were two obvious cases where Kansas City was clearly milking it. I don't remember who the first one was, but there was a definite dive during the run of play, and I feel like maybe one in the penalty box as well, and then, of course, Jimmy's Serie A-esque performance to get Juninho red carded. Now I do think the ejection was fully warranted and Jimmy didn't need to do what he did, but I can see why he did it. In my mind the proper response would have been to go to ground and then gotten up on one knee and glared at him, maybe get angry. But, card given and with that, New York was basically sunk.

In regards to Jimmy and time wasting, I will note that Jimmy was, in fact, issued a caution for time wasting, so it didn't go unnoticed by the ref. It seems a lot of NY fans were missing that.

So final whistle blows, security holds us for about 10 minutes after, and we depart, three points richer. Getting out wasn't too terrible, though finding our route back to the hotel by the Newark airport was damn near impossible. We did five uturns just to travel about two miles. It was insane.

Got to sleep in just a little bit before getting to the airport but was back on a flight around noon. I ran into another guy with an SKC track jacket and we wound up talking a bit. Turns out he was a trainer with the team who had been traveling with them since 1997. He said that normally Peter Vermes is pretty calm after games, win or lose, but he was really pumped up and congratulatory about this one, and I can sort of understand why. This is probably the hardest two game road stand we'll do this season, facing two good teams in hard to play places (though Red Bull Area is almost becoming a second home to us lately), so 3 points out of six is already a good start.

I did crank out some player ratings for this one as well. Some one mentioned that this might have been Collin's best game in an SKC jersey (maybe his best game ever?) and at first I thought it was hyperbole, but after thinking about it, it's kind of hard to argue. There's already a lot of nerves that Zusi and perhaps Besler will be gone sooner rather than later, and I can't help but wonder if Collin is on anyones rdar as well. My only thought would be his style fits in really well in MLS and Kansas City, especially with the cerebral play of Besler to partner with. Would it work in other leagues with other teams? Who knows... but I will say this. Collin played his balls off (almost literally) and I do think that maybe that was the best game I'd ever seen out of him. He was definitely the man of the match for me. Plus, 30 fantasy points almost single handedly carried my team this week. We'll see how he does in LA.

But, yes. Player ratings. Here we go.

Annnnnd with that, I've decided I need to get to Red Bull Arena more often. Two wins in two visits. I do think it's a great stadium and the location honestly isn't too bad, lots of stuff in the surrounding neighborhood and easily accessible by rail, but I know if you live in Queens or on Long Island and with traffic in Manhattan it can be truly hard to get to the stadium, especially midweek. Still, it's a shame it's been so cavernous when I've been there. Which shouldn't be confused as me wishing good thigns upon the New York team... they can all take a swim in the hudson and get water poisoning for all I care...

Collin. Man of the match. Awesome.

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