Monday, May 19, 2008

MLS Match Report 3: Red Bulls 1, Kansas City Wizards 1

East Rutherford, New Jersey -- Some of the scuttlebutt surrounding the Northfield, New Jersey Massive! (TM) has been, to say the least, scandalous. How can you be a crew, a firm, a massive (the doubters say, all the while clinging to their quaint views of football fandom, circa 1979) when you are comprised of just 3 members? Well, there are a few things those on the outside could never endeavor to know. For one, my fanny pack comes in hard-man black, thank you very much. Secondly, Alex spent Sunday afternoon in the hospital after rearranging (unintentionally, of course!) the underside of a fellow youth soccer player's cranium with his calcium-fortified forehead. And, to top it all off, Ben is a Newcastle fan, despite Damien Duff's tenure with the club. If that's not someone who specializes in pain, I don't know who is! As Marvin Gaye once sang, "Let's get it on!!"
*** OK, here's we separate the wheat from the chaff, among soccer fans, anyway. Anyone who knows the modern game will know that all this hoolie-chic talk is just that -- talk, and only for a laugh, at that !! Who is not repulsed by the scourge of violence that blighted the game (at least in England in the 1970s and '80s) ?? It's the idea of completely-friendly 'confrontation' and witty banter amongst the fans that excites and lives on. Real violence in the name of football is absolutely repugnant. The associations are just like a good punk-rock album -- think Green Day or, their predecessors, The Clash --- in that it's all about the figurative suggestions and portraits you render. Anything beyond that is pure and utter folly, as well as small-minded !! The Beautiful Game is much too precious to be made intentionally ugly. ***
With that said, the Massive! took on members of the Nutile clan for Saturday night's visit of the Kansas City Wizards to play the host Red Bulls at Estadio de Gigantes. When we arrived at the stadium (after U2's "Achtung Baby" and Stereophonics' "Performance and Cocktails" got us the 120 miles up the Parkway), the wind was whipping. Sam got out his mini-grill and needed about 38 match strokes to get a light, while the lads were joined by Tyler and Nicky ("The One") for small-sided games in the parking lot. Only, there was a slight problem. I had forgotten the beer! Inexcusable! Or, as Sam said, "I am going to kill you." Yikes. The saddest part is that I had individually wrapped a cooler full of Coors Light 16-ouncers with ice packs, so they would be cold and frosty upon arrival. Alas, they remained in the freezer as my mind went completely blank.
But, where there's a will there is always a way, and I quickly found a collective of families from Brooklyn who were overflowing in suds. Having gained access to as many pint-cups of Yuengling Black & Tan as we wanted, Sam grilled up some awesome sausage, burgers and dogs. By 6 p.m., it was time to head inside.
Eventually, a crowd of about 16,000 filed in, making some nice noise during a match the Bulls never seemed to gain a foothold in. USA defender Jimmy Conrad gave the Wizards a 1-nil lead with a headed goal, and KC had some nice possession, but the chances were primarily created by New York. Juan Pablo Angel showed his usual nice touches, and Dane Richards was a revelation out wide on the right. As the rain started to fall down, Bulls rookie Danleigh Borman equalized late in the second half during a sequence when Jozy Altidore seemed to come alive for the home side.
Thanks to my RBNY contact, the lads and dads made it down to the tunnel after the match, and the boys got their shirts signed while I chatted about injuries with Claudio Reyna and Mike Magee. Cool stuff, and lucky to boot.
The ride home was all about 80s hits on Sirius and Sam snoring! Oh, and the lads singing "Crank that out, Soulja Boy" about 675 times. You gotta love pre-teens, iPods, North Jersey, Parkway rest-stops and, mostly, MLS.