All sports play a role, even soccer
Harrison- As a full moon rested brightly above the rim of Red Bull Arena, thousands of American flags waved in unison throughout the stands. In remembrance of the September 11th terrorist attacks of ten years ago, the New York Red Bulls handed out the flags to every fan that entered the stadium, and directed them to wave the flags between the ninth and twelfth minutes of the game. To complete the patriotic scene, a choir of diehards bellowed an impromptu rendition of God Bless America.
Attending a soccer game one might expect goose bumps courtesy of a dazzling play or horrific injury. But Saturday night provided a unique experience to those young and old, American and foreign. Oh yeah, there was a soccer game played also.
From the pregame onward, The 1-1 draw between the New York Red Bulls and Vancouver Whitecaps seemed insignificant. Somehow, it was unimportant that the home squad, who hasn’t won a game since early July, was also fighting for their playoff lives. A beautiful Juan Agudelo goal, a controversial red card, and a hectic finish all took a back seat to the bigger picture of this anniversary weekend. The mood was somber yet proud- an uncommon mix of emotions, fitting for an uncommon anniversary.
We remember George W. Bush throwing a fastball right down the pipe before game 3 of the 2001 World Series, and we know Rex Ryan feels Sunday night’s game against the Cowboys is the most important game he’s ever coached as a Jet. Those sports, baseball and football, are woven into the fabric of the American identity. But Soccer? That’s the rest of the world’s game, and the MLS is a second tier league in this heterogeneous sports culture. Of the 30-man roster, only 13 Red Bulls are native to the United States. And yet on Saturday night, soccer felt as American as the home run and touchdown last night.
“Absolutely. A lot of emotions, its one of the most important dates in this country’s history and its close to all American’s hearts,” said Dax McCarty, a midfielder from Florida, when asked if the date affected his play. “You can’t really define the magnitude of the moment, it’s certainly in the back of your head.”
McCarty hit the nail on the head. Like baseball and football, 9/11 is also a part of the American identity. Everyone knows how old they were, what the weather was like, and what they were doing when they heard the news. Sports have always been tied to the tragedy. It helped the country heal. It was something to rally around. As far as I’m concerned, the Yanks won that World Series; that little flair from Luis Gonzalez never happened. And When Piazza hit that walk off everyone was a Mets fan.
It doesn’t matter if you were in Yankee stadium when the clock struck midnight on November 1, 2001 or Red Bull Arena on Saturday night. It's unimportant if you are from New York or Newfoundland. For the next few days, we are all American, and we all know what this weekend is about.