by Jonathan Zeller, 04/17/2012
- more in nyc sports/
- events in nyc/
Soccer is alive and kicking in New York. Just ask Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara, who grew up near NYC and went to college at Fordham. "I think soccer has become a lot more popular," he says. "Not only in New York City, but throughout the whole country."
Meara knows of what he speaks. Last season, his energy drink–sponsored side averaged nearly 20,000 supporters per game, and Major League Soccer trailed only Major League Baseball and the National Football League in average attendance among US–based sports leagues. The enthusiasm goes beyond the numbers; step into Red Bull Arena for a big game, and you'll see a sea of red and yellow and hear cheers loud enough to drown out a space shuttle launch. The world's favorite sport has come into its own, right across the Hudson River.
The Red Bulls are just the beginning of the soccer action this summer; notable fútbol matchups are scheduled all season long. Read on to find out who's hitting the pitch and when, in and around the five boroughs.
Red Bulls MLS Season
Various dates and times; Red Bull Arena
Thierry Henry is unstoppable. That's the current storyline for the Red Bulls, who are off to a fine start largely thanks to the star's efforts—as of press time, Henry leads the league with seven goals. If he keeps up his stellar play, supporters may find themselves celebrating the club's first-ever MLS Cup this fall. For tickets, visit newyorkredbulls.com.
Tribeca/NYFEST Soccer Day
April 21, 9am; Pier 40
The Tribeca Film Festival hosts a daylong celebration of the world's favorite sport. Highlights include a juggling clinic with World Juggling Freestyle champion Eli Freeze, a celebrity game and an industry tournament featuring teams representing Focus Features, Sony Pictures Classics, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and many others. For more information, visit tribecafilm.com.
Mexico vs. Wales
May 27, 3pm; MetLife Stadium
The Mexican national soccer team's US tour makes a stop at MetLife Stadium, as El Tricolor takes on Wales ahead of its World Cup qualifying matches against Guyana and El Salvador. New York City is home to a considerable Mexican American population—319,263 as of 2010—so expect a large, vocal turnout for this one. For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com.
Brazil vs. Argentina
June 9, 3pm; MetLife Stadium
After dispatching the US national team in a game here last season, the Brazilian side returns to MetLife Stadium for a match against Argentina. The game is being promoted as a "Clash of the Titans," and it's hard to argue with that notion. Brazil and Argentina are two of the world's most imposing soccer teams—Brazil has won a record five World Cups, and Argentina has won two. Their rivalry is among the most storied in sports, and they'll write another chapter with the NYC skyline as their backdrop. For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com.
Showdown in Chinatown
June 27, time TBA; Sara D. Roosevelt Park
Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash joins a ragtag group of hoops stars and professional soccer players for an eight-a-side soccer game on the Lower East Side. Exhibition or not, the action on the pitch is competitive (and Nash can really play—look for a sweet bicycle kick). The event is free to watch and always draws a huge crowd. The Showdown also serves as the centerpiece for a number of related charity events benefiting underprivileged children. For more information on the event and related festivities, visit stevenash.org.
Kicking + Screening Film Festival
June 27–30. Tribeca Cinemas
Like film and European football? Head down to TriBeCa to see a slate of soccer-themed pictures including world premieres Rivals: Celtic vs. Rangers and 1:1 Theirry Henry, which follows the Red Bulls star during his transition to New York City and Major League Soccer. For tickets, visit kickingandscreening.com.
July 14–15, 21–22 and 28, times and locations TBA
Named for the famed New York Cosmos soccer franchise, Cosmos Copa is the kind of event that could only take place in a city as diverse as New York. It's a sort of mini World Cup featuring an "international" cast of teams with players from the five boroughs' many ethnic communities (e.g., NYC Ecuador, NYC Haiti, NYC England and NYC USA). For more information and a full schedule (when it becomes available), visit cosmoscopa.com.
Chelsea vs. Paris Saint-Germain
July 22, 7pm; Yankee Stadium
Two storied European soccer clubs—Chelsea of the English Premier League and Paris Saint-Germain of the French Ligue 1—are set to square off in the Bronx. Chelsea is coming off its big FA Cup win, and this is the first-ever soccer game at the new Yankee Stadium—so it’s sure to be one of the hottest tickets of the summer. For more info, visit yankees.com.
Le Trophée des Champions
July 28, 3pm; Red Bull Arena
As reported by The New York Times' Jack Bell, the best French professional soccer teams are set to fight for Le Trophée des Champions (the Champions Trophy) at Red Bull Arena. This annual game, dating back to 1949, pits the Ligue 1 champions against the winners of the Coupe de France—and this marks the first time it's been held in the New York City area. For tickets, visit newyorkredbulls.com.
Red Bulls vs. Tottenham Hotspur
July 31, time TBA; Red Bull Arena
Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur visits Red Bull Arena for a friendly. Led by Gareth Bale and Luka Modrić, the British side will provide a worthy challenge for New York's eleven. For more information, visit newyorkredbulls.com.