I went to my first MLS soccer game yesterday to celebrate the coming of David Beckham to the NYC area with the LA Galaxy playing the NY Red Bulls (unfortunately corporately-branded) at Giants Stadium. The Galaxy lost, but Becks brought it.
It's clear what a good player he is, especially compared to all the Americans around him. And because our seats were so amazing (2nd row in the corner), we got to see Beckham bend it, up close.
It was a really high-scoring, exciting game - especially for a casual fan (not even) such as myself, who was just there for the event. Soccer is definitely in a league of its own: there was less music than baseball or basketball, less food barkers than baseball, and, at least in the U.S., less crazy fans than, say, the Jets fans. Even so, every time I heard people boo Beckham, I thought, "Are there Red Bulls fans?"
Despite the lack of hysteria that you sometimes find at other NYC area major league sports games, it still was really entertaining - and easy to follow. I've watched my share of soccer games, but all of the amateur sort. When I worked at Atlantic, every Friday I would go see our club team play at Chelsea Piers. I went less for the sport and more for the guys on the team I had a crush on, and always for the post-game party (with the inevitable tequila shots). I felt a sense of belonging and camaraderie as one of two cheerleaders for our team, the aptly-named "Ahmet's Comets," in tribute to our fearless leader and founder Ahmet Ertegun.
Last night wasn't so different than back then - we had a huge group that took up the entire second row, and with tailgating before and after the game, it was a great social event. Besides, I got to see Beckham rip his shirt off after the Galaxy lost. Even from afar, a sight worth waiting for.
But the weather was fantastic, cool and comfortable, perfect for an outdoor stadium. So with such a good first experience, I'm totally spoiled. Too bad the Galaxy aren't playing when I'm going to be in LA in September...