Initially, I did not want to write this piece until the Red Bulls game was over, for fear of jinxing the result, however, when Eric Alexander made the score 4-1, I figured it was a safe bet at that point. OaM Managing Editor Matt Coyne asked me to write a short recap since I could not attend the game, instead I was watching from my home in Maryland. So' s here the short recap, and then the real thing I want to write about.
The Red Bulls entered their Sunday match against the Chicago Fire needing a win to clinch the Supporter's Shield for the 2013 MLS Season due to Sporting Kansas City's 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union the day before. Former Metro Bull Mike Magee made his usual impact putting the Fire up 1-0 inside the first 10 minutes. While the stadium did not get quiet, you could tell that the optimism that filled the fan base in the lead up to today was slowing disappearing. Thankfully, Thierry Henry answered in the 24th minute with a beauty of a goal that kissed the crossbar. The first half ended 1-1 and a sense of more to come. It only took 4 minutes into the second half for the Bulls to respond on a scrum in front of Sean Johnson. Depending on who you ask, that goal was scored by either Tim Cahill or Ibrahim Sekagya.
The rest of the second half was Chicago fighting for their playoff lives, and New York countering very well, with Lloyd Sam, Eric Alexander, and Johnny Steele scoring. Early in stoppage, Chicago got one back from a Quincy Amarikwa header. Then, it was time to celebrate.
Now, the real thing I want to talk about. There's moments in life where you can remember where you were and what you were doing, those "where were you when?" moments. For long suffering fans of the MetroStars/Red Bulls, this is one of those moments. While I honestly never went through all the suffering of no trophies since 1996 (I started following in 2010), I know what this moment means for most people. Most people who are reading this were probably in Red Bull Arena on Sunday night and got to witness this first hand. Since I was not, I want to describe it, because this is something I never felt in following professional sports, even when the Yankees have won multiple World Series.
Today in Maryland had pretty good weather for late October. Mid-50s and Sunny. Because of that, it only seemed natural to enjoy the game on my deck in the my back yard. I had a laptop setup to watch the game, and a fire going to my right, which is currently on it's dying flames as I write this. The only RBNY gear I am wearing is the hat I bought on my first visit to RBA on June 2, 2010. At the beginning of the second half, I broke out a cigar, a Cortez Cigars (a company based out of NJ, fittingly) Edicion Limitada. The cigar was meant to serve one of two purposes. If the Red Bulls won, it was my victory cigar. If they lost, well, it wasn't needed for that. At this point of my writing, the temperature has dropped to where I can see my breath, and the fire doesn't provide any warmth; yet I am not cold. I'm too happy about what this team achieved to let it bother me.
I know NY's job isn't done, but tonight is for all of us. Those who have been with the team since 1996, and those who only started this year. There will be other "where were you" moments for all of us, but this is truly something special, and on this cold October night, I can't think of anything more special than Mike Petke, who bleeds New York and doesn't want to be anywhere else, leading this team to it's first real trophy. For now, I'm going to finish this cigar, and pick up another one, and hope to be smoking it on December 7th, again in celebration, but this time, in Harrison, NJ.