Wednesday, August 27, 2014

C.D. FAS 0 at New York Red Bulls 2 (CONCACAF Champions League) - August 26, 2014


My office is located in Jersey City, just three stops on the PATH train from Harrison, home of the New York Red Bulls. Last season, the Red Bulls won the MLS Supporters Shield (most points in the regular season) thus granting them entry into this year's CONCACAF Champions League (CCL). Many fans are indifferent towards these non-league competitions, but I always enjoy them, because you can see teams from other nations. The lack of interest from the average fan means that tickets on the secondary market are very cheap, and with the game being held on Tuesday, it was convenient to stop by Red Bull Arena after work.



The CCL consists of 24 teams: 9 from North America (4 each from Mexico and the USA and one from Canada), 12 from Central America and 3 from the Caribbean. Teams are selected based on their performance in the previous season or in the domestic cup competition. Eight groups of three are drawn and the teams play home-and-away contests against the other two clubs between August and October, with the group winners moving on to the knockout stage. The Red Bulls were drawn into Group 3 with Montreal Impact (who won the Canadian Championship back in June) and Club Deportivo FAS from El Salvador. Montreal and FAS had already played twice with the Impact winning both games by a goal, so the Red Bulls needed to win over FAS to keep pace.



I arrived about 30 minutes before game time and stopped by Five Guys next to Harrison Station, which is the recommended dinner spot for any Red Bulls game - cheaper and better than what you will get inside the stadium. As you can see, there wasn't much of a crowd to worry about when I did arrive; I was able to sit wherever I wanted and move around freely during the game.

The Red Bulls dominated proceedings, scoring just 11 minutes in when Saer Sene (who had been traded from New England just two weeks prior) was left alone in the box to receive a headed pass from Tim Cahill. Sene (below) slotted home easily and the Red Bulls had all they would need.



That didn't stop them from trying to add to their score, but their finishing was terrible. Cahill missed about 3 glorious chances such as the one below that was blocked by a defender, while Sene bumbled away two open nets.



It didn't matter as FAS were no match of New York, perhaps getting a single chance over the 90 minutes. Midway through the second half, the Red Bulls Lloyd Sam took a pass from Péguy Luyindula and raced in on the right, doubling the score with a hard shot that went in off the keeper's gloves. The rest of the match was pretty forgettable as New York prevented FAS from attacking for the last 15 minutes to clinch the 2-0 win.

Overall, this was a pretty fun evening. The game was cheap, entertaining, and those fans who were there truly enjoyed themselves, even those supporting FAS, most of whom seemed to be local to NYC and happy to have the chance to see their team live. Sporting KC, D.C. United, and Portland are also in the CCL this season, so if you happen to live in one of those cities, consider a game in this league for a chance to see a club you've never seen before.

Notes

FAS is the first club to be eliminated from the Champions League after 3 straight losses.

Montreal visits the Red Bulls on October 22nd to end the group stage in what should be the deciding match, and I already have my ticket for that, thanks to a great StubHub campaign. Buy two tickets to any Red Bulls home game (or FC Toronto or Portland Timbers) and receive $25 towards a future MLS purchase. I got two tickets for $22 for this game, sold one for $10, and used the $25 gift to buy a good seat for the Montreal match. Two games for $12 - not bad in my books.

Next Up

Off to Alabama this weekend, starting in Montgomery on Friday evening for some Biscuit baseball. Check back regularly as I begin an exciting fall of Sports Road Tripping.

Best,

Sean

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