Friday, March 19, 2010

Better Red Than Dead: RBA - The Fountain of Youth!

Until now, I've avoided writing this piece. A couple of factors have weighed on me. First, the possibility of a work stoppage is like a harness trying to bridle the passion of Red Bull fans and all MLS fans. Second, well... I'm a relative newcomer to soccer, MLS, and the Red Bulls. I've told myself that, whatever enthusiasm I feel, how could it compare to my fellow bloggers, whoshotsam, a season ticket holder for many years, and viper, who goes all the way back to the earliest Metrostar days? I felt like I'd just leave it to them... after all, they're more entitled... so my thinking went.

To the first point... screw it. I went to bed with reports that the negotiating parties were well into their 12th hour of straight negotiating, and I expected to wake up and discover that either a deal was imminent, or with great exhaustion and frustration, the parties could not find common ground. Instead, there is no news, so it just hangs there. But... that is for another day. That is for Sunday, or Monday. I'm going to do my best to erase it from my mind, to "live in the now," as a new-age self-help book might advise.

To the second point... well, screw that too! My history as a fan may be shorter, by my capacity for excitement at the opening of Red Bull Arena knows no bounds! I feel like a kid about to hop on his first plane ride for his first trip to Disney World! I'm ready to don my mouse ears--er, bull horns! I've got my camera charged and ready, my awesome new season ticket holder scarves are sitting on the kitchen table next to the front door, season ticket cards are in the wallet--I know they are because I've checked about a dozen times! The Red Bull jersey I bought last year is a little on the small side--well, let's be honest, it doesn't really fit. I'm wearing it anyways! (Maybe the scarf will hide any fashion faux pas. I can hope.). The weather is supposed to be absolutely perfect. It is going to be the perfect day for the fans, players, the staff and owners who built it. Hell, it'll be a pretty perfect day for the local parking attendants, bar owners, and restauranteurs, too--the sell-out crowd will see to that.

Yup, you read that correctly. Sold out. A New York Red Bulls match. On fan message boards, there are people scrounging and begging for tickets. Seriously. Who ever thought they'd see THAT going on? I guess I'm not the only one excited about tomorrow. Also seen on message boards are people who've stayed away from the team since they were bought by Red Bull saying, "You know what, I'm over it! I want to root for my team again!" Red Bull Arena is calling the fans home.

Even the off-season has given plenty of reason for hope. Flying in the face of doubters, nay-sayers, and history, the European management team brought in this fall and winter is giving fans reasons to believe. Sporting Director, Erik Solér, has shown an ability to work within the myriad of MLS roster regulations and bring in a selective few players to bolster the roster. New Head Coach, Hans Backe, by all reports, walked into camp with an idea of how to play winning soccer, and worked with the team for the past seven weeks instilling this system--one that involves keeping defensive shape, and making sure players know what to do with the ball, and off-the-ball. The players have bought into it, and have played this pre-season with confidence and cohesion. I witnessed one game in person at the Disney Classic, and I could hardly believe this was the same team as last season. I'm telling you, they looked good. They were fun to watch. And they kicked Toronto's sorry collective ass.

I am excited for everything about tomorrow. I can't wait to wave my season ticket card in front of the scanner (and earn my day's loyalty points!), I can't wait to walk through the gate, and up the stairs, and into the opening to the stands--I can already see the sun-drenched Kentucky bluegrass, painted with ONLY soccer lines. I can't wait to be the owner of the first ass ever to sit in my seat. I can't wait to wander through the concourse and check out the concessions. I'm eager to buy a ridiculously over-priced beer. Hell, I hope I'm the very first to baptize one of the urinals!

The pre-game ceremonies, the pomp-and-circumstance. Rumours of one of those awesome crowd towel mosaics have been leaked. I can't wait for the starting lineups to be announced and see it emblazoned on the wrap-around LCD displays. The opening whistle, the first cross, the first attempt, the first goal. I can't wait for the first time the crowd starts riding the ref.

I'm excited to see how loud it can get--a full supporter's section chanting and singing, an upper deck made of aluminum, a partial roof to contain it all. The first "Red!.... Bull!..." cheer--where will it start? (I believe the word is out on this one, west side will call, east side will respond.) Will I have a voice left when I leave?

Leave? OK, I've reached the end of this post. I haven't even walked in yet, I'm not ready to think about the end of the day. For one more day, and one more night, I'm going to anticipate it all with the enthusiasm of a child. Red Bull Arena, here I come!
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