As the 2020 season opened with a victory against FC Cincinnati, we should also point out that the opening season victory also signaled a special day in New York City soccer history. After so many seasons of playing at Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands, finally, Red Bull Arena was built.
About ten years ago the brand new crown jewel of soccer stadiums in the United States was open for business as Brazilian side Santos that had a young Neymar graced the pitch against a Red Bulls side that brought over Estonian midfielder Joel Lindpere, rookie center back Tim Ream and new manager Hans Backe.
It was Lindpere who scored the first goal in the history of Red Bull Arena, followed by tallies from Mike Petke and a long-distance rip by Dane Richards, at the same time a full stadium filled with soccer fans and tons of celebrities who wanted to share in the excitement like Lindsey Vonn.
The move into RBA coincided with RBNY’s establishment as one of the league’s elite clubs as French superstar Thierry Henry was signed a few months later in the 2010 summer transfer window.
Since then the Red Bulls had Football superstars play for them or against them, like Tim Cahill, Rafa Marquez, Nani, David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and so many more that there are too many players to count.
Later on in 2010, there was the Barclay’s New York Challenge that had clubs from Europe such as Manchester City, Sporting Lisbon and Tottenham Hotspur, where Henry scored his first goal as a member of the Red Bulls against his old Arsenal rivals.
Let’s also not forget it held the first match of the first Hudson River Derby with New York City FC and that was a 2-1 win back in 2015. But the most satisfying win was the final match of the 2013 season when RBNY defeated the Chicago Fire, five goals to two and clinched the clubs first of three Supporters Shield. The celebrations that night was amazing as the South Ward sang and waved their flags to see the greatest moment in the clubs and the arena’s history.
While the season is suspended due to the COVID19 pandemic and it lays empty for the time being with no league matches being played, it remains the only professional level soccer-specific venue in the Tri-State area and one of the true landmarks of North American soccer.
Once this situation has passed, we can continue to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Red Bull Arena and hope to see either another shield or possibly the first MLS Cup title to be celebrated at the Cathedral of Soccer.