Red Bull New York striker Juan Pablo Angel is nursing a knee injury and Brazilian international Robinho picked up a thigh strain, so both players will sit out tomorrow night’s friendly between RBNY and Santos, which marks the Grand Opening of Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.
While it’s disappointing that the teams’ marquee players will be on the sidelines, it doesn’t detract from the genuinely historic occasion: the New York–New Jersey area, one of the cradles of soccer in this country—the region that birthed the Cosmos and brought Pele to the U.S., that bred John Harkes, Tab Ramos, Tony Meola, Claudio Reyna, Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore and many other U.S. stars—will finally have its own soccer stadium.
And not just any stadium: This place is gorgeous (except for the parking lots, which at this point have yet to be paved). It should not only draw crowds and create a great atmosphere, but also help produce better quality soccer than its predecessor in East Rutherford. Seriously: We’ve talked to multiple former MetroBull players about it, and they were unanimous in their opinion that Giants Stadium was not just unsuitable, but actually a negative, a place with no home-field advantage that would wear players down physically and mentally, and generally hinder the ability to play good soccer.
There’s also the chance to see the Red Bulls’ new players in action (Roy Miller, Joel Lindpere, some of the rookies), to get a feel for how the Erik Soler–Hans Backe regime is shaping up, and to see a stylish Brazilian team in action.
In the pomp-and-circumstances department, there will be appearances by Super Bowl–winning running back Reggie Bush of the New Orleans Saints, Olympic skiing gold medalist Lindsey Vonn and other celebrity types.
Finally, we will be there (hopefully shooting video), and a very, very close associate of Backpost—some say they’ve never been seen in the same room—will take part in some kind of penalty-kick event during halftime, down on the field. We’re not clear on the format, but come out and watch him sky it over the bar while falling on his keister, John Terry-style.
The game is also on the tube: Fox Soccer Channel and MSG at 6:00 EST.