For the first time since 1997 when the MLS All-Star Game was held in Giants Stadium and it was a West vs. East match-up, New York was host to the big MLS midseason event last night. In front of a beaming, sell-out crowd of 26,760, the MLS All-Stars dropped 4-0 to the hot Manchester United squad that have been tearing up the US during their summer 2011 tour.
The sell-out crowd got to experience a wonderful array of pre-game events, including a row of festivities on the road leading up to Red Bull Arena. Many of the sponsored booths had games or events and gave away free prizes, such as jerseys, scarves, magnets – even autographs by Red Bull players Dane Richards, Medhi Ballouchy, and Luke Rodgers.
The pre-game festivities saw the FDNY and NYPD soccer teams lining up to kick soccer balls into the crowd, the voice of Manchester United reading out their starting line-ups, and – the most exciting one – two sky divers landing onto the pitch with fireworks attached to their heels.
Overall, Red Bull Arena was rocking and boisterous leading into the night’s match.
Red Bull favorites Thierry Henry and Tim Ream received a deafening amount of applause and excitement during the pre-game line-up announcements – though David Beckham and Wayne Rooney were no slouches either. Beckham in particular received the loudest ovation of the night.
Juan Agudelo, subbed in the 81’, got his fair share of excitement from the home crowd. All in all, it was a good night to be a Red Bull.
In terms of play, not a whole lot went well for the MLS squad last night. Thierry Henry played a solid first half, with several great opportunities. Henry seemed to link up best with David Beckham all night as the two combined for some of the best chances of the evening. On the other side of the pitch, the United forwards gave Ream and the rest of the MLS defense fits all night, able to create space and chances from nothing at almost any time.
All-in-all, the MLS had their best chances and even played a very potent game in the first half. By the second, when Henry and a slew of others were subbed out to give the others playing time, things did not go as well. It’s certainly a testament to how well the entire Manchester United club is overall – that even their bench is an extremely potent force.
Despite the outcome, the night was an overwhelming success for MLS and the New York Red Bulls. It is always a wonderful sight to see the arena completely packed and bustling, and kudos to the Supporters who came and sang and chanted for the full 90 – even when the MLS fans were outnumbered by a seemingly 10-1 margin.
With the festivities over, New York heads across the pond to take part in the Emirates Cup with another Premier League powerhouse, Arsenal, this weekend.