March 16, 2013
By Charles Cuttone
A tale of two cities, two stadiums and four teams
The opening of this Major League Soccer season and Rivalry Weekend has brought about an interesting challenge—catching two games involving four teams that are covered by Soccer News Net sites.
A tricky, but certainly doable challenge, given that the two stadiums are barely 90 miles apart, so we’ll start the day at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ for the 12:30 matchup between the New York Red Bulls and DC United, then head on down the New Jersey Turnpike to Chester, just south of Philadelphia for the Union-Revolution clash at 5:00 pm.
To be prepped and ready for the doubleheader, we drove up to New Jersey and spent Friday night. We’re out of the hotel by 9am for a quick breakfast and up to Red Bull Arena for an early kickoff thanks to NBC Sports going nuts with soccer coverage on this Rivalry weekend.
10:30 am. Arriving at Red Bull Arena early, with some of the closest lots to the stadium are already filled, mostly with media and TV production crews. The fan zone area is set up. As we walk up to the stadium, I think this is the first soccer opening day for me that I know I won’t see my friend, the late Ike Kuhns at the game.
10:45 am. Sit and chat with colleague Michael Lewis to go over the day’s coverage plans. Definitely need the cup of the coffee.
11:30 am. The cramped press room at Red Bull Arena has pretty much filled up. The close proximity to D.C. means several regular United writers have made the trip.
11:45 am. Lineups for the United-Red Bull game are out. Dwayne DeRosario, back from a two game suspension as the result of a pre-season incident is starting up front for D.C. along with Lionard Pajoy and Chris Pontius. New York is going with two strikers, Thierry Henry and Fabian Espindola.
12:30 pm. In my seat in the press tribune at Red Bull Arena. No better or closer vantage point to watch a game in MLS, but the cold does make typing a bit of a challenge.
12:40 pm. The Red Bull Air Force starts their descent into the stadium to deliver the game ball. Always amazed the skill and precision of these guys dropping into the stadium.
12:48 pm. The national anthem singer flubbed the words as the American flag was delivered from the sky. RBA is far from full. Can see the empty seats even through the smoke from the pyrotechnics.
12:50 pm. Kickoff
1:06 pm. Starting to see some small snowflakes.
1:25 pm. Snow flurries really becoming visible. More visible than DC United’s attack.
1:38 pm. End of first half. United 0, Red Bulls 0. New York had the better of the play, but few real chances despite getting into the 18 often.
1:45 pm. MLS Commissioner Don Garber is doing an impromptu press conference in the media room. He’s not disappointed with the crowd. “This is a big stadium that was built not for today, but for the long term.”
Garber also addressed the issue of the league’s efforts to add a second New York team, the decision by the Cosmos to go into the NASL, and the interest in expanding to Florida.
2:50 pm. Game over. Its scoreless, DC 0, New York Red Bulls. As we hit the parking lot.
3:00 pm. Game story written and posted on D.C. Soccer News.
3:10 pm. We are cruising through increasingly heavy snow flurries on the NJ Turnpike on the way to Chester. Hope the weather is better down south.
3:34 pm. A couple of accidents on the turnpike, one in each direction, just below exit 7.
4:40 pm. Coming down the ramp off the Commodore Barry Bridge. Not much stadium traffic.
5:07 pm. Union and Revs kick off.
5:52 pm scoreless at the half. So far 135 minutes of soccer I’ve watched today and not a single goal.
7:00 pm The Union defeat the Revs for the fifth time in eight meetings, 1-0 on a goal by Jack McInerney.
7:05 pm Game stories filed for Philly Soccer News and New England Soccer News.
7:35 pm Back from the lockerrooms and post game press conference. A happy John Hackworth.
8:15pm Two games in one day in two stadiums done!