The New York Red Bulls attendance numbers receive more scrutiny than the National Budget – or so it seems. Announced crowds are often dissected by fans and pundits alike who refuse to let their eyes be deceived by the “tickets sold” number when butts-in-the-seats clearly do not reflect the claims.
There may have been some blue seats left empty for Sunday’s derby against DC United, but to focus on that would be nitpicking. The overwhelming majority played host to a fan base that was enthralled by an exciting victory that catapulted New York into a first place tie with their age-old foe.
A record 25,187 fans rallied behind their team as New York overcame an early deficit to dispatch DC United 3-2.
“I am going to have to mention the fans tonight – they were outstanding,” team captain Thierry Henry noted post-game. “Sometimes we say they don’t come, but we have to be honest – tonight, we needed that. They tried to give us that extra push, to make sure that we can keep the win. They were outstanding.”
Facing a one goal deficit only :30 seconds into the match, the capacity crowd, led by the supporters of the South Ward, never stopped pushing for their team to play on. Brandon Barklage, who played the hero against his former team, credited the fans for the drive to press forward.
“The crowd? Unbelievable,” he said. “From what I heard, they oversold 300 tickets or something like that, so Red Bull fans – thank you so much for the support. We’ll keep it coming for you guys.”
Likewise, veteran Red Bull defender Jan Gunnar Solli couldn’t help but acknowledge the role the capacity crowd played in such a crucial match. “The atmosphere and the way the people support us – it’s good for everybody,” he said. “It’s good for soccer, it’s good for Red Bull the brand and our team. That’s exactly what (the fans) wanted to see; to see a team – everyone – working so hard.”
“The fans were amazing,” rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara said. “It was definitely the best atmosphere I’ve played in since I’ve been here this season. Just to do it for the fans – we are in first and hopefully we can stay there for a while.”