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When hindsight is 5-4

Dan Feuerstein joins the league in looking back on the last marquee night of soccer at Giants Stadium

MLS - Los Angeles Galaxy vs New York Red Bulls - August 18, 2007

As Major League Soccer continues to suspend the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we at Once a Metro will try to spend more time looking into the past of MetroStars and Red Bulls history.

So why not step into the time machine and discuss a match that was just rebroadcasted by MLS through Facebook, as we remember the first night David Beckham came to Jersey to play the New York Red Bulls.

Bruce Arena had recently taken over the Red Bulss after the US Men’s National Team was eliminated from the 2006 World Cup in Germany by Ghana. When the 2007 season began he retooled the club by bringing over former US National Team player Clint Mathis, Juan Pablo Angel who transferred over from Aston Villa as the first designated player in the club’s history, as well as bringing over Dutch Goalkeeper Ronald Waterreus to play at Giants Stadium that season.

On August 18th in a hot and steamy Saturday night in the swamp of the Meadowlands, Fox Soccer Channel was broadcasting the match and this was the first arrival for David Beckham as he joined the Los Angeles Galaxy from his time in Spain with Real Madrid and brought a huge crowd of over 66,000 fans for a stand-alone MLS match.

Three different players scored a brace as Honduran International Carlos Pavon got two for the Galaxy, Jozy Altidore got two and Angel got two of his own, as he opened and closed the scoring in the match. His first goal came in the fourth minute when Angel fooled the Galaxy taking his free-kick low and beating Joe Cannon inside the near post.

David Beckham showed his bending ability by taking a corner from the far side and finding Carlos Pavon to equalize and then on a free-kick two minutes later got the same result for the lead.

But in first-half stoppage time was when the Red Bulls equalized and history at that time was made. After Dane Richards tried to beat the defensive trap, he crossed the ball to the middle of the Galaxy area but deflected away straight to Mathis who ripped a rising shot that broke the club record for most goals scored in all competitions at that time with 45.

Then the spotlight turned towards Jozy Altidore as he was able to sneak one in past Canon in the 49th minute from a wonderful cross by Mathis, then in the 70th minute, he goes around two defenders and slots it home. But the Galaxy scored two more as Landon Donovan on the restart quickly made it 4-3, then Edson Buddle converts the rebound after the ball hit the far post.

As the clock ticked away much thought that a four-goal draw was going to be the result that would end the night of fun and entertainment at Giants Stadium, but the Red Bulls wanted that last goal as Mathis drilled a long-distance shot that forced Cannon to make a save.

He left a rebound available for a rushing Angel, who quickly got to it and shot it right at Cannon who fell into the net and brought the ball with him, that completely crossed the entire goal line for the ninth goal of the match in the 89th minute.

What I remember about that day was the atmosphere in the parking lot of Giants Stadium. Every single space was filled, grills and makeshift bars were set up for everyone who was tailgating to see the superstars of the game representing the USA and the world were on display.

When I reached the elevator to the Giants Stadium pressbox all seats were taken by local tri-state sports reporters, the Spanish language reporters and the international reporters who came over for this event.

When I sat in my seat in the front row of the press box, I saw the growth of the crowd from the lower level, to the mezzanine and my surprise was seeing the upper deck growing with people from the first row to the last row.

While we now have stadiums made for the game in the United States and thankfully we have Red Bull Arena, a spectacle like that will never happen again. But back in the day, it was a feather in the cap as the Red Bulls won that nine-goal thriller and that memory continues to be displayed on You Tube. But I hope we can do it again.

Here are the highlights from that wonderful event.