New York Metrostars 2 v 1 Chicago Fire (31.05.2005)
There was a touch of ‘after the lord mayors show’ about New York Metrostars v Chicago Fire. This game perhaps should have preceded the England v Colombia game rather than followed it. The Metrostars home gate had ‘officially’ swelled to 50,807 compared to a season average home gate of roughly 10,000. 50,807 was generous, as half the crowd had left as the final whistle was blown on England v Colombia. The remaining fans were a combination of England fans enjoying the unique opportunity of ‘drinking in your seat whilst watching football in the sun’, and of course the Metrostar regulars. I wasn’t complaining though, its not often you get the chance to see two games in one day at the same stadium, and not having to move was a bonus.
The game had a pre-season friendly feel to it and due to the size of the stadium and lack of fans; it was comparable to the soulless experience of sitting watching a game at the Stadium MK for example, or any equivalent team with a stadium far too big for them.
Metrostars most notable big name player was former French world cup winner Youri Djorkaeff. This was a period when ageing big name stars were starting to filter over to the MLS for one final pay cheque. They were doing their bit to raise the profile of the MLS. Indeed David Beckham would sign for LA Galaxy only a few seasons later in 2007.
The highlight of the game was a 100 strong conga started by the England fans that snaked its way around the entire lower tier of the stadium – sparking off strange looks from the yanks and comments such as “you guys are crazy”. A long range curling effort from Guevara in the 93rd minute that sealed a 2-1 win for the Metrostars wasn’t bad either. A proper way to wina game.
The FA had been heavily criticised for arranging the USA tour, but a number of younger players were given the opportunity to gain match time in an England shirt and my seven day trip split across Chicago and New York had been well worth the effort.