Red Bulls Visit “Powerful” 9/11 Memorial on Heels of Brussels Attacks

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by RUSS McKENZIE

East Hanover, NJ – Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan woke up early for no particular reason on Tuesday morning. Like many Americans, he was faced with the news of another terror attack.

This one hit close to home for Kljestan, who spent the bulk of the last few years living and playing soccer in Belgium for Anderlecht.

“I started reaching out to the friends I still have there to see if they were OK, and fortunately they all were. It hits close to home because that metro station is less than a mile from my old apartment,” Kljestan stated after training on Thursday.

“It’s just a tragic event,” Sacha continued. “This is just a sad day and this is happening all over the world right now. We just need to stick together and get through it.”

The events that unfolded coincided with a team field trip to the 9/11 Memorial. Although it was mere coincidence, the trip was even more powerful for Sacha, as it came on the heels of the Brussels attack. “I still remember 2001,” he recalled. “It was a sad day in American history. It’s something that will always stick with us.

“You see the little survivor tree – the tree that made it. There were Belgian flags planted in there and it made me emotional. It was a good experience for (the team).”

Sporting Director Ali Curtis introduced the idea of engaging and exposing the club to the fabric of New York City. Like Curtis, head coach Jesse Marsch believes a visit to the 9/11 Memorial is be an important part of what it means to be a member of the New York community — and a glowing example of the character and fortitude of this region.

Of course, Kljestan wasn’t the only player moved by the experience.

“You say 9/11, and it’s not really as personal until you go to the memorial and see the faces of the people,” Englishman Lloyd Sam stated. “It’s good that I finally got to go. Living in the New York area, I probably should have gone before that.”

“It was powerful,” Marsch added. “Our guys got to feel what it’s like to be in New York, to be a New Yorker, to play for these fans, and to be a part of this community.

“They’ve done a fantastic job putting that memorial together. It’s really amazing.”


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