By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench
Saturday, April 27: 1-0 Win
The weather is warmer, the sun staying a little longer. The tailgate celebrations are louder, the crowds… a little bigger. The New York Red Bulls welcomed class of 2019 expansion side FC Cincinnati to Red Bull Arena. The teams last met in the 2017 Open Cup; it ended as any Red Bull fan had hoped.
He may be mellow: Saturday marked the 5th annual Autism Awareness night. The “Light it up Blue” event was marked by a slightly quieter public announcement system, free sensory aids, and a reminder of the league’s only permanent Sensory Room for overwhelmed visitors. The usual red numbers on the team kits were replaced with a dazzling blue. These kits, as well as the team’s walkout shirts, will be auctioned off to benefit Autism Speaks. I don’t think I can afford any of them, so if anyone wants to send me one, feel free*.
Take my time: The whole first half was rather slow. The Red Bulls dominated possession, but didn’t really do anything with it. Possession isn’t usually their thing, anyway. And it was unclear how the team would operate without Bradley Wright-Phillips and Cristian Casseres Jr.
Something just beyond what he’s told: The lone goal of the game came from… a defender. Connor Lade, that lovable veteran homegrown player, who had to recover from knee surgery–something I have to say way too much– to fight for his spot in a suddenly strong back line. He’s no massive centerback like Tim Parker and Aaron Long. He’s not an international outside back like Kemar Lawrence or Michael Amir Murillo. But what he is, is just what the team needed in that moment. This is the goal that helped Lade onto Team of the Week:
One hundred days, one hundred nights: It took a little longer than fans would have liked. Getting to one hundred wins at Red Bull Arena is an impressive feat. It took nine years and one month: the Red Bulls won their home opener on March 27th, 2010 against the Chicago Fire. Since then, this Cathedral of Soccer has hosted playoffs every year, as well as several Lamar Hunt Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League matches. It commemorates Bradley Wright-Phillips’ contributions to the team, and holds the names of several Metrostars and RBNY legends like Tony Meola and Thierry Henry.
Most recently, the team’s three Supporter’s Shields were memorialized. This year, some sections in the upper level have been cordoned off, presumably for upgrades to the overall fan experience. Fans will have to trust the process, as they have with the team itself. In the meantime, I will continue to focus on what’s on the field instead.
*– I’m totally kidding, don’t send me free stuff. Unless, you know, you’re into that sort of thing.
Featured image: Bill Twomey
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