So you’re thinking about traveling to watch the Red Bulls play on the road, but you’re not sure which games to go to and which to avoid. After making it to every game last year, and nearly all of them the year before, I’ve learned a few things about each MLS city, including pregame spots, sights to see, and which supporters you’ll want to hang out with before and after the game. So come along as I profile which games in 2018 you can’t miss and which ones you might want to pass up on.
⚽️— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) January 4, 2018
The #RBNY 2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣8️⃣ MLS Schedule has been Announced! https://t.co/9123t8bKBm
First up we have Real Salt Lake: RBNY’s first road-game of MLS 2018, scheduled for March 17. The land of Mormons, salty lakes, more Mormons, skiing, and even more Mormons is also the home of the patron saint of all things Metro, sworn enemy of printers everywhere and friend to mattresses: Michael Petke.
Step 1. Get the Purple Mattress up 3 flights of stairs @LifeOnPurple pic.twitter.com/yXoVfs6WOA— @petkemike (@petkemike) January 24, 2018
Step 2. Pull it out of packaging. @LifeOnPurple pic.twitter.com/pLKSM4aufd— @petkemike (@petkemike) January 24, 2018
Step 3. Cut it open. @LifeOnPurple pic.twitter.com/4Va5KiD5Lp— @petkemike (@petkemike) January 24, 2018
Step 4. Fall asleep even before you make the bed. @LifeOnPurple pic.twitter.com/5VB82gPItR— @petkemike (@petkemike) January 24, 2018
After his controversial firing from RBNY at the hands of Mr. 300 Pages, Mike was given the chance to rebuild RSL from the ground up. Taking the helm shortly after the start of the 2017 season, Mike and the Salt Lakers barely missed out on a trip to the playoffs. This year, they look to build on their successes and climb the ladder in the west.
For me, this is a must see game. The chance to see Mike Petke coach again is hard to pass up, but add in the fact that the game is on St. Patrick’s Day and we suddenly have a party on our hands. The folks out in Utah are among the nicest supporters I have ever dealt with. No, most of them aren’t Mormon. Yes, they do like to drink the devil’s nectar and know how to have a good time. If you’re flying into town early, I suggest hitting up Legends. No really, they have a soccer bar called Legends and it’s awesome. Unfortunately, they don’t have an Irish bartender named Jack who will take care of your every need, but they have really good food and drinks aren’t that expensive. There’s also a Brewvies right next door, which is exactly what it sounds like, a movie theater that serves beer. Who said Mormons don’t know how to have fun?
Before the game, swing by the Rouge Cavaliers Brigade tailgate to discuss all things Mike Petke and show them how well you can sing the RSL fight song. They’re some of the coolest people you’ll hang out with at a game and will make sure to show you a good time. After the match, hit up The Republican, an old Irish pub with a mural to the IRA on the wall for drinks and to unwind and dissect the game you just watched - and maybe Petke will throw in one of his can’t-miss post-game pressers for added value.
The next road game is in Orlando on March 31. Now, we’ve all been there before, either for a game or for the pilgrimage to the land of the Mouse, but it’s still a fun city to hang out in. Flights are so frequent and hotel rooms so abundant that it’s easy to swing a trip down there for a game without breaking the bank. It’s also a good excuse to take the family to a game and having something for the whole family to enjoy. That being said, the section that away fans are located in is not covered and is in direct sunlight. Luckily our game is early in the season and we can hopefully avoid heatstroke.
For a pregame spot, I suggest The Harp and Celt in Downtown Orlando. From past experiences, most Orlando supporters are…not overly friendly to visiting supporters. Multiple groups have had issues with them at bars or walking to and from the stadium. I’m not saying Orlando fans will beat you up if you go to a game there, but the Harp and Celt is a neutral spot to meet up and have something to eat or drink without having to worry about dealing with a guy that watched Green Street Hooligans one to many times and thinks everyone wants to have a go, guvna!
If you’re looking for somewhere fancy to hit up to hopefully celebrate a road victory, I suggest making a reservation at Stk in Disney Springs. While on the pricey side, Stk is an above average steakhouse in the free portion of the Disney World resort area. I also suggest saving room for the bag of donuts. They’re fried fresh to order and truly complete the meal.
STK Steak House in Disney Springs. Had the 10oz Filet with Blue Butter sauce on the side, and Mac N Cheese. The food was on point, steak cooked to my preference Pittsburgh Pink Medium. Service ok pic.twitter.com/mvg4bic0Cc— Orlando Food Blogger (@orlfoodie) January 10, 2018
The next three away games are to LA, Colorado, and Atlanta. Two of those places have legal weed and one has more Waffle Houses than people. If you plan it right, you’ll still have the munchies by the time you hit Waffle House. ESC has a longstanding relationship with LA Riot Squad and Centennial 38, so if you plan on making either of those trips, you will find friendly faces welcoming you to their tailgate. The folks down in Atlanta are also a friendly bunch, as long as you watch your mouth, lest you want to get stomped out. I suggest hitting up the World of Coke and do a tour of CNN while you’re there. Alas, the World of Coke may leave some of you disappointed, but they have an amazing polar bear that will give you a hug and take pictures with you. That makes everything better.
This season, we finally have a game in New England on a Saturday - June 2 - which means we can plan a bus trip up there. The last time we had a Saturday game in New England was before Tom Brady had ball deflating issues. I highly recommend any and all bus trips to New England, Philly, and DC. You’re in for many hours of drinking, making up songs on the fly, and general debauchery that you won’t experience anywhere else. With DC finally getting a stadium of their own, the bus trip down to Audi Field should be memorable to say the least - and there are two shots at that this season: July 25 and September 16.
June 9th could be the last time we ever play in Columbus, Ohio. While the city isn’t much of a draw, and the stadium isn’t much to write home about, there is a really good Mexican restaurant you should try should you decide to make the trip. El Vaquero is a local chain that offers awesome food and drinks. I have personally eaten at three different locations around the city and have never been disappointed. Their supporters are going through a rough patch right now and are probably looking for hugs, so if you head out there, you should go hug a Crew fan.
Our trips to Toronto and Montreal this year are around holidays. Toronto away is on Canada Day (July 1) and Montreal is on Labor Day weekend (September 1). While neither fan base is particularly friendly to visiting fans, we have carved out a couple of bars for our own that have been nothing but great to us each time. In Toronto, there is Scotland Yard, located close to Union Station. They are a typical pub with one of the best sliders I’ve ever had on the menu. They sell Quebec sliders, which are beef sliders with cheese curds and poutine gravy on top. I’ve definitely ordered more of these than I’m proud of. In Montreal, we normally pregame at Peel Pub. The staff there is friendly and has allowed us to take over the place before heading up to the game.
We’re blessed enough to travel to Yankee Stadium twice this year - July 8 and August 22 - because you know, watching soccer with a foul pole in your sightline is everyone’s dream. If you’ve never gone to one of these before, you should. The march through Midtown and the train ride up are highlights of the season for a lot of us and the banter only gets better as more blue team fans get on the train. While security is always a concern up there, things have calmed down over the last couple of trips to the South Bronx.
August features two of my favorite trips, Chicago and Vancouver. Both Section 8 and Southsiders have welcomed traveling Red Bulls fans with open arms. Chicago’s Section 8 tailgates outside of Toyota Park and if you’re brave enough to try a shot of Jepson’s Malort, you’ll have a great time bantering with the second most creative and cynical supporters clubs in MLS. Vancouver’s Southsiders meet at a bar called Doolin’s, which features good drinks, above-average poutine, and is a short walk to the stadium. I highly recommend both of these trips. Of all the places I have been to, Southsiders are some of the friendliest bunch I have ever met.
The final trips of the season are San Jose (October 6) and Philly (October 21). Philly is a terrible city with no redeeming qualities. They stick us next to the Sons of Ben and security is heavy handed and ruins the very little fun we could possibly have in the city that celebrates a fictional sports hero. San Jose has a beautiful stadium that seems to have been built in a wind tunnel. Or at least, that’s what the visiting supporters section is like. Visiting section aside, the stadium is pretty cool and features The World Largest Outdoor Bar and food trucks of every kind. It’s also a short drive up to San Francisco, which has far more touristy options for you to entertain yourself with. Unfortunately I do not have any food recommendations for San Jose, but there is an In-N-Out right next door, and you can’t go wrong with In-N-Out.
All in all, we have a plethora of away trips worth making this year. If you can only make one long distance one, I would suggest Vancouver, followed by Chicago, and RSL. If you’re looking for a trip you can drive to, you can’t go wrong with Toronto or Montreal. And if you want something that the whole family could enjoy, definitely hit up Columbus. You can see their one building and the road that leads out of town. Wait, no I’m sorry. You’ll want to go to Orlando. The call of a giant mouse and his friends is hard to pass up.