Well hello! Yesterday I dragged my sweaty, hungover ass out to New Jersey’s Red Bull Arena via the WTC PATH, and I could not be happier about my decision! This is basically going to be a big ol’ not-sponsored (I WISH) post about why it is a very good idea to go see NWSL matches when/if possible!
I don’t have too many soccer friends in this city, so it was with great pleasure that I accepted a ticket from my friend Derrick (an official New York Red Bulls member) to see Sky Blue FC face off against the Seattle Reign at 1pm. Yes it was in the middle of the day, yes it was swampy AF, yes New Jersey (or at least the Newark area) smells terrible (I am sorry but it’s true), yes the match resulted in a draw, but I had the best goddamn time!
Megan Rapinoe (currently injured) did not play, and I’m sure there were more than a few people who were disappointed at the lineup as a result. I knew in advance that Pinoe would not be playing, so I did not mind in the slightest. (Also, the Reign has players like Jodie Taylor and Allie Long who DID make appearances, so I extra did not mind in the slightest.) Have things been as great for the Reign since Laura Harvey moved on over to coach the Utah Royals? No, but I still love and respect the Reign, the Royals and Laura Harvey. (Basically, I love most everybody in the NWSL, and only really actively dislike the NC Courage thanks to resident homophobe Jaelene Hinkle. But that’s neither here nor there. Let’s zone back in on yesterday’s match.)
It seemed like the support was fairly even for both sides yesterday; the Reign are known for their devoted fan base, and I was impressed by the volume of them that showed up for yesterday’s match. I also imagine there are some new buddies for that squad due to the aforementioned (usual) presence of Megan Rapinoe. Meanwhile, Carli Lloyd (who DID play in yesterday’s match) drew a solid number of Sky Blue FC enthusiasts. The two goals that were scored came within two minutes of each other, and both were (I felt) pretty amazing – the first was in the 36th minute from Elizabeth Eddy of Sky Blue, and the second was by Jodie Taylor for the Reign in the 38th minute. Aside from the equalized scoreboard, there were plenty of tumbles and collisions, and both squads battled it out through the crippling heat. Again, color me WAY impressed.
And as I say, I had a great fucking time watching! This is a big deal for someone who reverse-hibernates in summertime; I cannot believe I sat outdoors sans AC in the muggy awfulness for 90+ minutes, but between the match and the IPAs and the genuinely incredible company of soccer fans, I was completely distracted by how much I was perspiring. From the guy sitting alone to my and Derrick’s left who chimed in every so often to say “Wow, you guys are saying everything I’m thinking!” to the guy sitting to our right with his mom, both from Peru and avid Sky Blue fans who I spoke to in Spanglish while Derrick went to grab some empanadas (he says the only worthwhile Red Bull Arena food stall, and I believe him), everyone was just in the best spirits of all time. There were also a billion queers (a tribe to which I happily belong), loads of kids (all genders), and it basically just felt like a v. egalitarian/utopian/etc. audience.
My favorite moment probably came on the train back to Manhattan, where I found myself sitting next to an eight year old with a slight stammer named Hudson; I asked him if he felt gutted about the draw (he was wearing a Sky Blue shirt which he had totally sweated through, and we were in that moment soggy twins as I had destroyed through my own t-shirt), and he said he was fine with it, but he did wish Sky Blue had pulled out a win. I also asked him if he played any sports himself, and he said he used to play soccer, but his team was doing abysmally, so he quit. Now he boxes on Sundays. (Fair, Hudson. Fair.)
This was a million percent my favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and I hope that the record number of turnouts at these matches post-FIFA WWC continue to help the equal pay/equal play fight. Regardless, I think it’s an amazing place to bring kids of all genders; seeing women be badasses on the field is a fundamental part of dismantling ye olde patriarchy. You can typically purchase tickets starting at $20/$25, which I think is an absolute bargain. (Will the stadium beers run you significantly more? Sure, but that’s all part of the fun!) If you’re in the DC area, you can catch a home game for the Spirit (ft. Mal Pugh, Rose Lavelle and more) as soon as this Wednesday August 21st at Maureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex – they’ll be playing the Utah Royals (ft. Christen Press, Kelley O’Hara and more) which sounds like an absolute delight, AND the Spirit will also face off against the Orlando Pride (ft. Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger, Alex Morgan, Marta…like, ALL of the people, slash I do not get how they’re doing so badly this season) at Audi Field this Saturday August 24th. If you’re in the NYC area, you’re gonna have to hold off until September 7th to slog it out to Piscataway, NJ for a Sky Blue match against the Courage. Full schedule can be found here, though, and even if you can’t make it to a game, PLEASE TUNE IN on either ESPN or Yahoo Sports // the more support, the (hopefully) closer we get to the aforementioned equal pay/equal play!!!
Wow, I hope you have enjoyed this #AD (again, not-spon, I just care about this a ridiculous amount) and I hope you get your face out there for at least one more match before the season is over! K BYE!