Colombia 2 v 3 England (31.05.2005)
So on to New York for the 2nd game of the US tour – England v Colombia at the Giants Stadium in New Jersey.
Following a 2 hour internal flight in to New York’s La Guardia airport, I went for the lazy option – a cab transfer to get out to the distant East Rutherford area of New Jersey. The meadowlands sports complex – which is home to the Giants Stadium, is located there and I’d decided to base myself out of the city to make life easier getting to and from the game itself. The cab transfer didn’t prove as smooth as id hoped as the cabbie got lost and I was left sweating in the back over the ever increasing meter as it moved into triple figures! Surely a New York cabbie would get tougher jobs? It would be like a London black cab driver getting lost on a journey from Gatwick to Wembley!
Despite negotiating a discount with the driver I was several dollars lighter in the pocket. Whilst staying out here was great on match day I’m not sure it paid off considering I made a number of journeys in and out of New York City.
If you ever go to a game at the Giants Stadium there is a regular bus service (#351) from the Port Authority bus terminal in downtown New York that comes to the Meadowlands area and takes about 30 minutes. I feel duly obliged to pass that on after my cross city travel struggles!
Similarly to Chicago my strict itinerary allowed for a day of sightseeing in New York of which I fully embraced. The sheer size of New York, and Manhattan in particular is awe inspiring. Just walking up 5th Avenue and glancing upwards you feel minute compared to everything else around you. In full tourist mode and on a mission my tour included the Empire State Building, Ground Zero (quite an eerie experience), Statue of Liberty (from the mainland!), Times Square, Madison Square Garden, Greenwich Village and more Avenues than I care to remember! By the time I got back to the hotel I was finished.
Match day and it was baking hot in New York. It was the perfect day to go to a game where they allow you to drink beer in your seat. Budweiser’s it was.
The Giants Stadium – home to the New York Giants – had turned to the dark side and was hosting a football match of the round balled kind. $150,000 had been spent on replacing the astro turf pitch with a grass surface specifically for this game. Actually it was two games as New York Metro Stars would face Chicago Fire in the MLS straight after the main event. Two for the price of one, I’m all over that!
The stadium itself is impressive with an 80,000+ capacity and it was plenty large enough for this fixture, even though a sizeable crowd of 50,807 turned up to see the Three Lions on tour. The game also attracted a lot of interest from New York’s Latin American population.
England brought some of the big boys back for this game, with Beckham, Owen, Cole and Crouch coming back into the side. It was still an indifferent line up though with the likes of Zat Knight, Jermaine Jenas and Phil Neville keeping their places from the game 3 days earlier. Colombia’s most recognisable players were Juan Pablo Angel (formerly of Aston villa) and Perea of Atletico Madrid.
For a friendly, the game was a good one with plenty of attacking play, five goals in total and a hat trick from Michael Owen (36’, 44’, 58’) securing a 3-2 win over the South Americans. That hat-trick would take him to 4th on England’s all time goal scoring list behind Sir Bobby Charlton, Jimmy Greaves and Gary Lineker. It was hard to imagine at this point that Owen wouldn’t go on to be top of that list in a few years time.
The Twin Towers – a sobreing reminder of the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York City