I was surprised to learn that not a single member of Once a Metro’s esteemed crew of journalists would be attending this week’s fixture between the New York Red Bulls and the Houston Dynamo, so I decided to take on the challenge. I’m not one for reporting, but I accepted my assumed assignment from the Managing Editor and made my way to Red Bull Arena.
I departed the PATH train at the Harrison station, taking a brisk walk to Red Bull Arena. As usual, I planned to pick up some of my favorite local foods: Five Guys and dollar water. But to my surprise, there were no $1 priced bottles of water for sale. Didn’t the purveyor know the Red Bulls are playing? He missed out on a lot of profit.
Oh well. At least the line was short at Five Guys, which is rare on match days. Usually I deal with the long line in order to support to local, small business owners and indulge in some authentic Portuguese cuisine.
After enjoying my meal, I continued marching to the stadium, but noticed that there wasn’t much of a crowd. This wasn’t odd, though, considering MLS ingeniously decided to schedule an early afternoon match on a beautiful Saturday in April. What was strange was the lack of promotion or pre-game festivities by the Red Bulls. I know the club doesn’t put a lot of money into marketing, but it appears they’ve completely given up on any sort of game day experience.
“Outside the stadium,” I told myself. “Once I get inside there’s still the best soccer team in the world and my favorite genre of music: unintelligible music played at an eardrum shattering volume.”
Unable to find someone to admit me to the stadium, I did what any reasonable person would: threw my ticket on the ground and scaled the fence. It wasn’t really an issue for me because I’ve been going to the gym a lot lately, but I’m not sure if new or potential fans would be open to such an experience (demanding whiners that they are).
The stadium, to my delight, was a ghost town. “I must be really early,” I thought to myself and took a leisurely, ovular stroll around the field.
People say that Red Bull Arena is at its best when attendance is lower due to the increased walkability of the concourse. It’s hard to disagree.
To my surprise, all of the food stands and vendors were closed for the match. “They must be taking today off to clean,” I thought to myself.
People say that Red Bull Arena is at its best when concessions are closed due to the decreased digestibility of the food. It’s hard to disagree.
So, I took my seat and waited for warm ups to start.
To my shock and surprise, both teams independently decided to forfeit. Neither showed up, but at least they had the common courtesy to inform the referee crew in advance.
Anyway, here are my THREE STARS for a perfect defensive performance and non-existent attack from the Red Bulls:
3) Luis Robles: Hard to argue with a shutout. Didn’t have much to do, but also didn’t allow any goals.
2) Jesse Marsch: Ignored the haters and continued his sporadic, Spartan substitution pattern. Kudos, gaffer, we will follow you and your oftentimes confusing in-game tactical decisions to the gates of Valhalla.
1) Aurelien Collin: Probably his best performance in 2018. Virtually error-free and managed to not get a card or give up a bad goal. The French center back displayed perfect positioning by not being on the field.
And here are my three TSK TSKS:
3) Alejandro “Kaku” Gamarra: Couldn’t get off the bench again after remaining curiously sidelined in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals. Is the Red Bulls’ newest Argentine superstar not fitting in with the club? Is this Veron 2.0?
2) Bradley Wright-Phillips: The English striker never seems to show up when it counts. He missed a golden opportunity to boost the Red Bulls’ goal differential by scoring on an empty net against a team that didn’t show up. One begins to wonder if BWP is transforming from “The Ultimate Scoring Machine” to “The Ultimate Selfish Machine”.
1) The South Ward: Disappointingly quiet and sparsely attended. While the absence of infighting and drama must be applauded, that’s no excuse to skip the match and leave the section empty. Hopefully the supporters defend their home against Chivas or else they’ll be scolded again.
Unsure of how to update the standings and my box score when both teams forfeit, I contacted Major League Soccer, but was unable to get a suitable answer other than what I believed to be a very rude “Get out of my living room” from Commissioner Don Garber. A very typical reaction from a league that wants coverage yet is unwilling to respond to simple questions from reporters.
So for now, I’m scoring it as a 0-3 loss for both teams until I receive further confirmation and my minor legal issue is resolved – something about “trespassing” and “breaking and entering”, both patently ridiculous.
The New York Red Bulls are back in action Tuesday, April 10th when they take on Chivas Guadalajara in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals. As of publishing, neither team intends to forfeit.