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2012 Bucket List - #25 Attend A Soccer Game

#25 - Attend A Soccer Game

Since about 2010, I've been loyal to this other New York (although in New Jersey) Franchise, and have seen the club improve year after year, including the construction of a new soccer-only stadium. 

They are the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer. 

And let's be honest, with the heartache the Knicks, Jets, and the once dependent-now problematic Yankees have given me, having another franchise to get behind might help alleviate some of the aggravation.

Nonetheless, since I've never been able to attend a professional soccer game in my life, I figured I was over due, and decided to attend my first Red Bulls Game this year. 

And to be honest, Red Bull Arena is awesome!

The facility, the access, the parking, the prices, and even the overall atmosphere and fandum is amazing. 

I've never been to a Jets game either, so traveling to New Jersey for a game seemed rather weird and kind of fraud-bagg-ish to me. As you come out of the Holland Tunnel and the surroundings just scream Jersey from the industrial mills and the broken down buildings, you start to wonder if the Red Bull company couldn't have found room in Queens or even Long Island to build Red Bull Arena.

Sorry Jersey folks, you know it's true...

As you travel on Route 139 in Jersey, the facility sticks out like a soar thumb. Sort of reminds me of Yankee Stadium in the South Bronx or even the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY. Either way, it's a tremendously looking stadium that has a great architectural feel.

As we slowly inched forwarded on the streets around the facility and parking lots, a very cool experience occurred for those of us waiting (and those of us were new like myself) where the Red Bulls fan club walked together in the streets with flares and smoke chanting as they walked in unison to the arena. I found that to be amazing, and quite fun, especially after seeing their unison and strength in leading the entire crowd later on.

Here comes the crew...coming up on you!

My only complaint with my experience at Red Bull Arena has to be their closest parking lot which was gravel. And I'm not talking gravel we've all driven on, I'm talking large amounts of gravel to the point where you feel you either need four wheel drive to navigate through it or you might have to dig yourself out from being stuck.

However, the tag team partner and I simply chalked that up to simply being newbies. We know where to park next time. 

The tailgating and atmosphere outside of the stadium before the game is something I rarely ever get to experience with the numerous Yankees and Knicks games I've attended. Heck, not even as a season ticket holder for the Brooklyn Cyclones. Actual tailgating. Beer drinkers, pickup soccer games, vuvuzela noises, and loud chants. Simply awesome. The Red Bulls also has a pretty nice set-up of a beer garden in front of the main entrance. 

Oh well, hello there Ms. Tina Cervasio

While we are indeed in Jersey, New York is My Home

As you enter the stadium, many might find this weird, but I was pleased to see there were actually steps to the arena and not escalators and elevators. Have we become that lazy? That is one of the things that breaks my heart in the New Yankee Stadium. Makes the place simply feel like a shopping mall. 

Anyhow, wrapping up the aesthetics and comfort approach of the stadium, another very cool change I found were the lack of arm rests on seats in the facility. You don't realize how inconvenient they are until they are actually gone. It made the seats more comfortable, and made for easy maneuvering as people came into your aisle, or for simply standing and sitting in key moments of the game. Something will find yourself doing a lot. 

I also lack Red Bulls gear, so my wife and I pretty much looked like the Red Bull Arena newbies that we were. There was Red Bull gear every wear. Shirts, hats, jerseys, wristbands, and lots and lots of scarfs. Yes, scarfs! And yes, I want one. 

Awesome at games, and could keep me warm in the winter

As for the game despite the Red Bulls sub-par play against a lowly Chivas USA squad, it was an overall fun experience. A genuinely feel-good experience that I can honestly say is probably one of the best sporting events I've ever been too. From the chants, the songs, the drums, the signs, the drama, and the overall atmosphere, it has been a long time since I've been engaged in a contest the way I was at Red Bull Arena tonight. 

Speaking of chants, I love a good chant. Which is probably why I enjoy soccer and professional wrestling so much. So much so, I had to laugh (and share) a response by my tag team partner to the home chant on opposing goal kicks. As the goal keeper draws back, the crowd all reach out with their hands as if putting a hex on him for future save opportunities. As he kicks, the crowd then chants "You suck..." follow by a word best described as a reference for an everyday jerk or a rear-end part of your body. 

To which my wonderful wife (and sudden ambassador for sportsmanship) stated towards the end of the first half, "I don't like that chant. I don't think it's called for...They don't know him personally. He could be a really nice guy". 

Nonetheless, whether it was because of the new environment, the close game (which finished in a draw) or simply because the product is worth it, the Red Bulls and MLS have themselves a fan with an even stronger connection. 

Such an amazing fan base and crowd

I can honestly say my first professional soccer game was an awesome experience. And one that leaves this fan wanting to return to Red Bull Arena, and possible future games elsewhere.

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