Category Archives: New York Red Bulls

New York Red Bulls

Hydration Breaks & the End of the Dry Spell

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official New York Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Sunday, June 18: 2-0 Win

Happy Father’s Day, everybody. After spending my midday watching one of my favorite players of all time (my 9-year-old) in his last game of the season, I made it home just in time to watch the New York Red Bulls (7-7-2, 23 points) take on the Philadelphia Union (4-7-4, 16 points). Let me state for the record: I do NOT believe this matchup qualifies as a rivalry. If anything, RBNY fans seem indifferent towards Philly. That’s understandably odd, since the NY/Philly rivalry is common across other sports. But between DC United and NYCFC, there’s just no room for more animosity.

Panamanian International Michael Amir Murillo is back, as well as Jamaican International Kemar Lawrence, who was under the weather and didn’t make the Starting XI. With the heat and humidity, MLS allowed for hydration breaks during the match.

A key for RBNY was to contain attacking midfielder Chris Pontius, who has scored more goals against the Red Bulls than any individual opponent. They also had to look out for CJ Sapong, who scored a hat trick in the last meeting of these sides. A major obstacle for the team is that while the Red Bulls go 1v1, the Union seem able to double- or triple-team attackers. Red Bulls have no choice but to play the ball into traffic, which prevents them from finishing their attack. All too often, striker Bradley Wright-Phillips ends up behind the defenders as teammates Alex Muyl and Felipe cross the ball towards him. Additionally, RBNY had made great progress in years past on their set pieces, but it just doesn’t yield any results this season. There is an implication that some variety is in order: Captain Sacha Kljestan steps up for most free kicks and corners.

As Murillo gets an increasing number of starts, he is clearly showing the talent that makes him a Panamanian international. Without Kemar on the left, the ball is played up the right channel, and Murillo owns that entire space.

In the 22nd minute, Pontius proved once again how dangerous he can be; however, RBNY goalkeeper Luis Robles got a hand on a ball in his 156th consecutive appearance (a previous report by yours truly implied his streak was over when he did not appear in the Open Cup match vs NYCFC—his record is only for regular league matches). A call of offside on the subsequent corner kick caused a Union goal to be called back.

Kemar Lawrence comes in at the start of the 2nd half for Aaron Long, who rolled his ankle and could not continue. Knowing he was unwell, this development was disconcerting, but Lawrence quickly showed that he was feeling fine. Then the advantage increased: Union midfielder Derrick Jones received a straight red in the 53rd minute for a dangerous foul on Felipe, who is the most fouled player in the league. Unfortunately, RBNY could make no progress for more than 30 minutes of play against a team of 10.

Argentinian midfielder Gonzalo Veron was subbed in for Daniel Royer (84′). He doesn’t get many minutes, and it’s not clear why. Especially when he clearly changes the game. He created a chance almost immediately after coming on, but nothing came of it until the 87th minute, when BWP *finally* got in front of defenders and scored, ending a 524-minute goalless streak on the road). Then came an almost carbon-copy goal from BWP in the 92nd minute. Veron was a factor in both goals. Sounds like he’s a real game-changer…

In more pressing matters, the next installment of the Hudson River Derby will be played against NYCFC at Red Bull Arena this coming Saturday. As for the Union, they come back to RBA on June 28th for the Round of 16 in the Lamar Hunt Open Cup. I’d like to see more of what I’ve been seeing.

Featured image courtesy: New York Red Bulls facebook

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This Win is So Metro

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official New York Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @whitezinwench

Wednesday, June 14th: 1-0 Win

Derby.

Dar-bee.

New York Derby.

Metropolitan Derby.

Hudson River Derby.

I’d pay NBC Sports anchor Rebecca Lowe five bucks to record the words “Hudson River Derby.”

I was in the press box for this New York matchup. The press access is a completely different experience than any I’ve had at Red Bull Arena. The only rule was that I couldn’t be a fan– business casual dress, no fan gear, no asking for autographs or selfies. A fair trade for the view. There was food and drink available, as well as a workspace for taking notes during the game. I fully enjoyed the game from my unique vantage point, and I look forward to having the opportunity to visit the press box again.

The New York Red Bulls (6-7-2, 20 points) took on NYCFC (7-5-3, 24 points) in the Lamar Hunt Open Cup, a tournament open to professional and amateur soccer clubs throughout the US. It’s a time for Cinderella stories (like Christos FC and the LA Wolves, coached by US Soccer Hall of Famer Eric Wynalda), but it’s also an opportunity to get in some extra battles between regional rivals.

There was no doubt this game was going to be chippy. I don’t think the fans would have it any other way. Having a colleague who is the official reporter for NYCFC, I can appreciate a healthy amount of banter. This is not the first time I have been to Red Bull Arena for a matchup against NYCFC. It was electric even then, the hottest day of summer 2016. But this was a much more comfortable evening in more ways than one. Gathering up my gumption, I applied for a media pass and got approved. So, on a much cooler evening, I got to see the game from the press box just above the Red Bulls bench. 

Biggest news of the evening is the end of the Iron Man streak: Goalkeeper Luis Robles did not take his place in goal after 155 straight matches. Ryan Meara, GK for the USL-trophy winning RBNYII, took his place in the net. While he had his work cut out for him, Meara was up for the challenge, making 3 saves throughout the game. Most notably was in the 16th minute, when NYC midfielder Tommy McNamara nailed a shot at Meara, who caught enough of it to send it bouncing off the crossbar and the ground a couple of times before getting cleared. I can’t help but wonder if the moment will be used in the argument for VAR. Then in the 40th minute, NYC striker hit the far post and Meara grabbed the ball as it bounced out again. The goal frame proved a formidable member of the RBNY defense.

During the entire first half, RBNY was capable of breaking up the counterattack but they were subsequently running more than playing (a common complaint in MLS).

After a scoreless first half, Dani Royer was subbed in for Grella at kickoff for the 2nd half. The expected chippiness of the rivalry continued to grow, with a total of 29 fouls committed by both sides.

Tyler Adams, fresh off his run with USMNT U20s, continues to amaze in the defense. Adams’ frustration was visibly increasing in the attacking third. From my vantage point, I could see what Adams was trying to create, but his teammates just weren’t cooperating.

Finally, the stalemate was broken by a goal in the 67th minute from Royer following an assist from forward Bradley Wright-Phillips. BWP lured NYC GK Sean Johnson off his line and allowed Royer to tuck it home. RBNY were able to hang onto that lead for the rest of the match and advance to the Round of 16, where they will face the Philadelphia Union. As for NYC, they’ll be back for league play on the 24th, the game following RBNY’s next league match on Sunday the 18th, against…. the Philadelphia Union.

I guess that’s what is known as the “magic of the Cup”.

Featured image from press box courtesy: Sylvana Budesheim

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Slumping into the Break

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official New York Red Bulls Reporter

Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, June 3rd: 1-0 Loss

MLS. It’s not the league of the road warrior. It’s ridiculously difficult to go into an opponent’s stadium and do well. Going into Stade Saputo, the New York Red Bulls (6-7-2, 20 points) had not won an away game since Opening Weekend (vs expansion team Atlanta United) and haven’t scored away since April 1st (in a 4-1 loss against Houston Dynamo).

The form that sent them to the playoffs, that won them the Supporter’s Shield twice in 3 years, and that fans saw coming back in their two most recent wins at home, is slipping away again. Facing the Montreal Impact (4-4-4, 16 points) didn’t make matters easier. This was the team that ousted RBNY from the playoffs last year, Red Bulls Midfielder Felipe’s former team, and the club that had traded to acquire Chris Duvall from RBNY.

During most of the game, the ball stayed on the right side of the field while the Red Bulls had possession. The problem with that is it kept Kemar Lawrence and Mike Grella out of the mix for most of the match. However, a lot of the responsibility fell to Michael Amir Murillo at RB, and he handled the job well. Considering the perceived instability of the back line, defenders Murillo, Lawrence, Aaron Long, and Damien Perrinelle held up quite well throughout the match. Even when Montreal midfielder Blerim Dzemaili made a goal in the 30th minute, it was not because the back line was sleeping on the throw in. Fortunately, the deflection off Dominic Oduro caused the goal to be called back for an offside play.

Following the match, Captain Sacha Kljestan admitted that the team cannot rely on striker Bradly Wright-Phillips to score all the goals; he and the other attackers have to pull their own weight. He should have pointed that out before the match: Grella attempted some fancy footwork in the 42nd minute, as if he was going to dribble the ball right past Impact GK Evan Bush. Then in the 50th minute, Kljestan himself either whiffed the ball or went for the assist: either way, the ball went wide and was another wasted opportunity. Even Felipe, who drew several fouls and took a few free kicks, couldn’t land the ball in the net.

And then, just what the Red Bulls feared came to fruition: in the 67th minute, the Impact earned a free kick and re-started faster than the Red Bulls thought they would. This allowed Dzemaili to poke the ball straight through to the back of the net. They were caught slow, lost, and behind the run of play.

Coach Jesse Marsch called in the reinforcements (Fred Gulbrandsen in for Sean Davis and Gonzalo Veron for Grella in the 75th minute) and the attack was back on. Had the game been maybe ten minutes longer, RBNY might have had a chance to level it. But then in stoppage time Impact midfielder Patrice Bernier slid off the field and fell into the Montreal bench (they have dugout-style benches very close to the touchline—I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often). While Bernier got up and walked out on his own, the incident killed the run of play and referee Mark Geiger did not add additional time to the three minutes already in place.

The International Break is coming up, and prior USMNT call-ups Luis Robles and Sacha Kljestan are staying home (Murillo has been called for Panama, and Lawrence is expected to be called for Jamaica). This is the time they need to rest and refocus. RBNY is hovering at the red line that dictates who makes the playoffs: while they’ve been there before, it’s not where they belong. They have what it takes to climb the standings. They just need to find it in themselves again.

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

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Giving TFC the Horns

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official New York Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Friday, May 19: 1-1 Draw

Looking to save themselves from a 3-match skid, the New York Red Bulls (5-6-2, 17 points) hosted Eastern conference leaders Toronto FC (7-1-5, 26 points), who were enjoying a 6-match winning streak. Even though TFC were missing league MVP Sebastian Giovinco to injury, the team was by no means suffering, with USMNT and former Metrostar/Red Bulls players Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore leading the team.

Having broken their 19-match winning streak at home with the loss to LA Galaxy, RBNY once again hit the field looking as if they had something to prove. And indeed they started strong: the key to the match for the Red Bulls was to contain Altidore, which defenders Aaron Long and Damien Perrinelle did in no uncertain terms.

Frederik Gulbrandsen, still looking for his first goal with the team, had a great opportunity in the 15th minute, but it was saved by TFC goalkeeper Alexander Bono. (After taking a hit just at the end of the first half, Gulbrandsen was substituted at halftime.) TFC forward Tousaint Ricketts kept the defense busy, notably stopped by Kemar Lawrence in the 29th minute.

RBNY kept hammering away, finally drawing a foul in a dangerous area in the 37th minute. Set pieces, an important element of Red Bull game preparation, paid off when Bradley Wright-Phillips received the kick from Sacha Kljestan and put it into Toronto’s goal. The team relies on Wright-Phillips, who made his 74th career goal, to be the finisher. It’s what he’s been known for his whole career: makes no sense to stop now.

On the other hand, Kljestan, a perfectly capable midfielder, who has done some amazing things for club and country, is still wasting multiple touches in the attacking third. It’s disheartening to see a player who led the league in assists last year seem to not have options. He needs to get back to what he knows and forwards like Danny Royer and Alex Muyl need to be there for him.

RNBY goalkeeper Luis Robles didn’t have to make a save until the 2nd half. But then came the 70th minute: Benoit Cheyrou scored with a header off a free kick. It’s important to note that both goals for the match were scored off of set pieces, which really should be considered a plus for RBNY. To keep Toronto from scoring in the run of play is no small feat.

But nothing could have prepared us for the Save-of-the-Week-worthy moment in the 80th minute. A poor clearance by Perrinelle resulted in a penalty kick for Altidore. The stadium lit up when Robles read the kick and punched the ball to the far sideline. Moments of brilliance like that are hints that the spark that takes the team into the playoffs is still there.

The ball made its way up and down the field following Toronto’s failed PK. Even from home (and even on the 2nd viewing) I could feel the electricity in Red Bull Arena. It wasn’t the nervous and frantic pace seen in previous matches; this was passion and purpose.

There was also a few moments of confusion and palpable tension in the 87th minute when a shot by Ricketts made it to the back of the New York net but was called back. In the confusion and conferencing between the lead referee Robert Sibiga and the linesman, Vìctor Vásquez celebrated the goal in Luis Robles’ face… a bad choice. Turned out the goal was called back for interference from Raheem Edwards. Robles received a yellow card for his physical reaction to Vásquez. And honestly, if RBNY has to go the path of the Bad News Bears to get their passion back, keep those yellow cards coming. Just not too many, okay?

The pace remained to the final whistle, and lifted the spirits of this fan as well as many others. Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, includes another home match at Red Bull Arena. Hopefully, the summer of soccer love awaits us.

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

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No Joy in Harrison

Sylvana - NY Red Bulls
Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Sunday, May 14th: 1-3 Loss

So here I am again, having watched the New York Red Bulls (5-6-1, 16 points) lose to a non-conference team that has been suffering this season (LA Galaxy, 3-5-2, 11 points), and feeling the urge to explain what is going wrong for the Red Bulls. But I also insist that the answer is above my pay grade. So I can’t explain. I can only guess.

Watching the team in action, it’s almost as if no one is showing the necessary initiative. Sure, Sacha Kljestan was a natural successor in the role of team captain, and he takes the role seriously enough. The roster is full of players who have been a part of the system for a long time, from veterans Felipe and Bradley Wright-Phillips to Homegrown players Connor Lade and Alex Muyl. But it seems that everyone is more willing to let someone else take the lead in the moment.

The back line, with its near-constant rotation, isn’t taking charge of the space in the defensive third while opponents are on the attack; Bradley Wright-Phillips seems to be aiming for the assist rather than the goal; Sacha Kljestan spends several touches squaring up the ball for someone who just isn’t coming.

When Galaxy DP Roman Alessandrini scored a brace in the first 10 minutes of the game, it’s not because he was waiting for the injured Jermaine Jones to return, or depending on just the right pass from Gyasi Zardes. He just went for it. This evening, I sat closer to the field than I had ever been, and could hear Luis Robles screaming to his teammates to “wake up”. But they never did. There isn’t the explosiveness on the field that made them Supporter Shield winners in the past.

On a more positive note, Mike Grella made his return from injury in the 2nd half. He tried to help turn things around for the team, and the fans were happy to see him back on the pitch. The frustration levels were rising, leading to a penalty in the box in the 78th minute that was converted by Giovani Dos Santos, bringing the Galaxy to a 3-0 lead.

Galaxy defender Bradley Diallo was issued two yellow cards which resulted in a sending off in the 90th minute, and that opened the door for Daniel Royer to make the consolation goal in the 93rd. It was a welcome celebration, but too little too late. As the rain was falling in the waning minutes of the game, disappointed fans began to pour out of Red Bull Arena. Like the sad fans of Mudville, they had no choice but to admit that the mighty Red Bulls had, in their own way, struck out.

The team faces Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC this coming Friday, giving them only a few days to regroup. Who will be the team’s lightning rod? And how soon can they get the team charged up?

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

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So Much for the “A Game”

Sylvana - NY Red Bulls
Official New York Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, May 6: 3-0 Loss

MLS is unpredictable. People who want to be more assured of a game ending a particular way will look to English, German, or Mexican soccer. They can be much more confident where their Liverpools, Bayern Munichs, or Pumas will rise and fall, and where they will end up at the end of the season.

It’s just not so with MLS teams. A team like the New York Red Bulls (5-5-1, 16 points) should have sailed into Talen Energy Stadium and taken down Bottom-of-the-table Philadelphia Union (1-4-4, 7 points). Sure, they just came off a loss against Sporting Kansas City. But that was with all sorts of tweaks to their system. Maybe they just underestimated Union’s hunger to win.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying, though. The familiar faces were back in the starting XI, and the bench included a recuperated Mike Grella. The first half was largely uneventful, with solid saves from goalkeepers Luis Robles and Andre Blake. Defender Damien Perrinelle was in the action all over the defending third, and winger Alex Muyl was on the attack. However, striker Bradley Wright-Phillips seemed to give up the ball in an effort to create chances for other Red Bulls. The Union defensive line figured out BWP quickly and shut him down at every turn.

The second half became the CJ Sapong show. He scored 2 goals in the run of play (74′ & 81′) followed by a Penalty Kick (85′) for a handball in the box by Perrinelle. Despite using all three available substitutions, including Mike Grella, manager Jesse Marsch could not right the ship and the game ended in a shut out of the Red Bulls on the road.

Remember when I said MLS is unpredictable? Well, the one thing the MLS fan can count on is how difficult it is to win away from home. No team has won more than 2 away games so far this season. So perhaps it was inevitable that Philly would win. They have a town hall meeting for season ticket holders this week, and had to have been feeling the heat.

The Red Bulls have another 3-game home stand coming up, beginning with Western conference underdog LA Galaxy. They might not be hungry for their first win, but they could pull out all the stops for a solid road win. The Red Bulls have to snap their slump before it gets out of hand. This promises to be a more important game than originally expected, for both sides.

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

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On the Road, Out of Order

Sylvana - NY Red Bulls
Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Wednesday, May 3: 2-0 Loss

Mid-week. On the road. Non-conference. Apparently, it was time to change things up a bit.

The New York Red Bulls (5-4-1, 15 points), coming off a successful home stand, hit the road with their first stop in Children’s Mercy Park to face Western Conference powerhouse Sporting Kansas City (5-1-3, 19 points).

Having started a run of three games in 8 days, RBNY coach Jesse Marsch made significant changes to the lineup. Sacha Kljestan gave his captain’s armband up to Luis Robles. Defender (and reality TV star) Sal Zizzo made an appearance at center back, since Aurelien Collin is week-to-week with a groin injury. Panamanian international Michael Murillo made his long-awaited debut for RBNY. Bradley Wright-Phillips took a well-deserved break, making way for Designated Player Gonzalo Veron and Frederik Gulbrandsen to lead the team in a 4-2-2-2 formation.

On the other hand, SKC was not interested in making significant changes. Captain Matt Besler, USMNT notables Graham Zusi & Benny Feilhaber, and the ever-popular SKC striker Dom Dwyer were ready for a fight in front of the KC Cauldron. It’s worth noting that a win for either side would have put them in 1st place in their conference. In hindsight, that doesn’t seem to have been the priority for New York.

The starting whistle was more like a starting pistol for both teams: pace and passing were intense in the first 20 minutes.  Both sides were held scoreless in the first half, despite the solid chances for Gulbrandsen and Zizzo. Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia made several saves to keep his side in the game.

Then the second half happened. Sporting KC decided they wanted it more and acted on it. In the opening minute, Feilhaber made a shot into the NY box that Zizzo couldn’t clear and Dwyer sunk the ball into the back of the net. Although the rest was over for usual starters Klejstan, Wright-Phillips, and Dani Royer, it proved to be too little too late: in the 68th minute, the combination of Feilhaber and Dwyer caught the defense sleeping and scored a second time. The game ended in a 2-0 loss for the Red Bulls, and fans were left questioning the lesson that was meant to be learned.

Was it a night for experimentation? If so, Marsch had the right idea putting in Murillo and Derrick Etienne, and starting Gulbrandsen, to see what they could do in unfamiliar territory. Was it worth losing? No one is happy to lose, especially when the chances were there for the Red Bulls. Honestly, this is the first write-up I’ve had to make with a RBNY loss. It’s not fun.

Next game for RBNY is this Saturday, away at Philadelphia Union, who must be very hungry for a win. How will the Red Bulls handle this very different situation?

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

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A Homecoming Dance to Remember

Sylvana - NY Red Bulls
Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, April 29: 2-1 Win

The New York Red Bulls (5-3-1, 16 points) faced a revitalized Chicago Fire (3-3-2, 11 points) at a well-attended Autism Awareness Night, amid discussion about supporter’s group sanctions, continued injuries, a legendary Designated Player (Bastian Schweinsteiger, World Cup and Bundesliga champion), and the return of previous RBNY captain Dax McCarty.

I still remember the moment I learned McCarty had been traded to the Chicago Fire.

An English teacher by trade, I treasure that Dead Poets Society reference. So I cleared my schedule when I learned the date of McCarty’s return to Red Bull Arena. There were many posters and signs for “The Ginger Ninja,” and he was up to the task of bringing the excitement that made him a fan favorite in RBA. But it was the home team who struck first: Striker Bradley Wright-Phillips scored off a cross from Dani Royer (37’) and brought the crowd to their feet. BWP’s 73rd career goal, he just keeps building his resume as a future all-time club legend.

As expected, Schweinsteiger was a force to be reckoned with, even after a head-to-head collision with defender Damien Perrinelle left them both bleeding and momentarily out of the game. But it was the interaction with midfielder Felipe that made a lasting impact. Head referee Hilario Grajeda had to pull them both aside in the first half, ultimately issuing a yellow card to Felipe in the 81st minute.

While Goalkeeper Luis Robles made 4 huge saves, his most recent run of clean sheets ran out in the 59th minute with a strike from Fire forward Nemanja Nikolic, with the assist from—who else?—Dax McCarty. Though Robles argued a missed foul by David Accam, there was nothing to be done except applaud RBNY’s former hero and charge on.

RBNY Designated Player Gonzalo Veron, in his first appearance since he was sidelined by injury, came on for Alex Muyl in the 65th minute and tried to make his presence known, a welcome sight for many fans. But it was defenders Kemar Lawrence and Damien Perrinelle who had the breakthrough moment, with Lawrence scoring his first RBNY goal this season in the 71st minute. The home team was able to hold on for the remainder of the game, including 5 minutes of stoppage time to give them all 9 points in their run of home games this month.

And although it was a bitter pill to swallow, Dax McCarty returned the love he had been given by remaining on the field long after the final whistle, signing autographs and taking selfies as if he was home. And in a way, he still was.

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

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Father Knows Best

Sylvana - NY Red Bulls
Official New York Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim @WhiteZinWench

When I was a kid, my dad put me in rec soccer. It was something to do, and didn’t take a lot of effort. I was cool with it. When I was old enough to play on a travel team, it went without saying that I would join, becoming part of the first all-girl travel team the club had seen. I played until I was in 6th grade. And frankly, I kinda stunk at it. I had decent pace, I understood the game. My coach loved how far and accurately I could throw in the ball.

But I didn’t have the passion. That, and puberty hit me quite hard (chest traps are no fun when your sports bra can’t handle its contents). And it was the early 90s—there was no way a girl could make a living playing soccer. I went on to be moderately successful in music and studied things that I thought would bring me more job security.

Then, when my kids were old enough, I put them in soccer. It seemed the natural thing to do. In 2014, my two oldest sons were selected to be on-field escorts at a New York Red Bulls game. They looked so cute, in little replica uniforms, holding hands with members of Chivas USA. It was cold, it was rainy, it was windy. I don’t remember the score (I think it was a tie), but I was HOOKED. The arena, the competition, the familiarity: it all made sense.

Suddenly soccer was everywhere. That summer we all watched the World Cup on TV, the English Premier League and MLS were increasingly easier to find, followed by the Champions League and Bundesliga. The next year, I was watching daily Periscope broadcasts by former USMNT defender and Fox Soccer analyst Alexi Lalas, who was covering the Women’s World Cup in Canada. I’d ask him questions… and he would answer them! I’d make snarky comments… and he would laugh!

Then I started looking up other soccer broadcasting personalities. Twitter made them approachable, which gave me a chance to learn (or, perhaps more accurately, remember what I already knew) about the Beautiful Game. I found podcasts, and websites, and other fans who shared their excitement. My cousin got a job with NBC Sports and most of her work involves English Premier League: I think I’m more excited about her job than she is some days. I met front office types and sports writers. And I found what I should have known all along: there just might be a way to make a living with soccer. Young me was very short-sighted.

When the Copa America Centenario was announced, I realized this was my chance to thank my dad for introducing me to soccer, a game he had played against seminarians at his Catholic School in his native Ecuador. Two tickets, Ecuador vs Haiti, at MetLife Stadium. Lower mezzanine, front row, behind the goal. His first live professional soccer game in an arena.

If you have a good relationship with your parents (and I recognize not everyone does), you want to do what will make them proud, regardless of how old you get. For me, this is it.

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East or West, Home is Best

Sylvana - NY Red Bulls
Official New York Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, April 22: 2-0 Win

I live by the notion that it costs me nothing to be nice, and indeed it makes my life infinitely better. Thanks to a particularly generous season ticket holder, I was able to take my 9-year-old son to the New York Red Bulls (4-3-1, 13 points) game against the Columbus Crew (4-3-1, 13 points) and sit in a none-too-shabby location (lower level, above the corner flag to the right of the goal). I’ve been to Red Bull Arena a few times before, enough that I didn’t need my GPS to get there or to find the arena from my rather distant parking spot.

With the increasing popularity of soccer broadcasting, it’s easy to watch a game at home or in a bar. But nothing beats being in Red Bull Arena. We sat near the Supporter’s Section, full of shirtless screamers and flags and smoke. We yelled out “RED!” during the bridge of the National Anthem, the only color mentioned in the song. We sat with our fuzzy throw blankets and cheered the team on. And my son looked at that field and said, “Someday, I’ll play out there.”

Unfortunately, there was a false start of sorts when midfielder Artur went down in the first minute. (It was later confirmed that he suffered a broken wrist.) But the Red Bulls were riding the wave that comes with a very comfortable 18-game undefeated streak at home.

In fact, it only took 11 minutes for Alex Muyl (pronounced “M-wheel” — reporters and analysts are pronouncing his name incorrectly; that should be changing very soon) to find the back of the net following a cross by Kemar Lawrence. This was Muyl’s 2nd goal in as many games.  Goalkeeper Luis Robles was able to keep a clean sheet once again, most notably against Crew striker Justin Meram—any Red Bulls fan can tell you it’s not fun to see that Audi Player Index commercial where Meram gets past Robles, no matter how long ago it was.

Then in the 38th minute, RBNY striker Bradley Wright-Phillips was brought down in the box by Crew defender Alex Crognale, who was injured in the incident. Another Crew injury, another forced substitution. Austrian winger Daniel Royer converted the Penalty Kick and doubled the lead. Both teams were held scoreless in the second half, even though some great chances came to subs Frederik Gulbrandsen and Derrick Etienne Jr.

Gulbrandsen, on loan from Red Bull Salzburg, actually did find the back of the net but was ruled offside. When the final whistle blew, the home team was victorious and the sizeable crowd made their way back to their cars or the train station. My son promptly fell asleep in the backseat on the ride home, happy to have been in the arena for another Red Bulls win.

Same time next week, guys? I’ll be sure to let you know.

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