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New York Red Bulls v Spurs, 31.07.12

My thanks to David Kingsley for this eye-witness report

Tuesday July 31st, 2012. K.O. 7:00 pm
Red Bulls Stadium, Harrison, NJ, USA

New York Red Bulls 1 vs 2 Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs scorers:- Bale, Sigurdsson

Tottenham: Gomes, Walker (Naughton 60), Dawson, Vertonghen (Gallas 45), Assou-Ekotto (Bassong 82), Livermore (Carroll 62), Huddlestone (Jenas 45), Bentley (Kane 45), Sigurdsson (Kaboul 82), Lennon (Smith 82), Bale (Townsend 74)

Attendance: 21,701

The ugly ducklings came to New York with a waddle and a quack; their beauty tarnished by the old Duckmaster, 'Arry. They left as strutting, crowing Cockerels, led by the vibrant Cockmeister, AVB.

Spurs visits to the NY area are like London buses, you don't see them for decades, and then they arrive twice in three years. For me, the ex-pat, ex-season ticket holder, it was like Christmas in July.

Walking to the stadium there were lots of Premiership team shirts, even scum ones. Why a scum supporter would want to spend time and money to see Spurs I have no idea–even if it is to cheer on the Black Swan-led Red Bulls (although, thankfully he didn't play). However, as I got nearer, more and more Spurs shirts were present, with a plefora of Bale jerseys.

Just outside the stadium there were some Under Armour booths and trucks selling Spurs gear; I found some free blow-up 'happy clappers' with the team name that I grabbed. Also, there was a tent where you could have your picture taken with the EPL trophy. I passed. Like the Stanley Cup, I feel it unworthy to touch the trophy until you win it … maybe next time.

When I got to my seat, a very large Spurs contingent was amassed in the NYSpurs end (the end we defended in the first half). Reports of 1,000 Spurs fans attending were, I think, grossly underestimated. There had to be double that when taking into consideration the pockets of fans in the other areas of the ground.

American fans are very peculiar, the couple next to me arrived at the 30 minute mark of the first half, left their seats at half-time, never to be seen again. People arrived late for kick-off, and were still taking their seats 20 minutes after the break. The ground slowly filled as the game went on. At kick-off the ground was under half full. By the end it was 80% filled (I reckon that there was 20,000 present–the ground holds 25,000).

The sun was setting as the teams entered the field and I noticed that Tom and Benny seem to have a thing going about who's hair is the craziest. The game-time temperature was 79 degrees F. The sky started out ominously, with dark clouds, but by half time, cleared completely.

Spurs started slowly, very slowly. The passing was wayward and our 'high-line' looked like a disaster waiting to happen. Not only did Daws and Verty look uncomfortable, but as they were always back-pedaling, their defensive headers fell straight to a Red Bulls midfielder.

Lo and behold, long ball over the top and Verty flattens their forward. Penalty, 1-0. This may sound weird, but watching the games on TV over the past 30 years or so, I automatically waited for a replay of the incident, then I realized that it was live!

After that the back line looked pretty shaky until the end of the half. Livermore also started very slowly as did Walker.

On a positive note, Benny had a good game overall and he linked well with Bentley, although the latter kept losing the ball or going backwards. Siggy was immense; he harried and worked hard the whole half. Lennon was, well, Lennon. He was on the ball a lot but found it difficult to penetrate and when he did, his final ball was poor.

Bale led the line in the first half. He ran around without any obvious effects of the Adam horror tackle, but a center forward he is not.

At half time I was very concerned, not only for this match, but next season. Spurs were very poor and I had images of a Ramos-like start.

The second-half was a different story. We came out with more drive and verve. Gallas for Verty seemed to settle the back-line, so much so that the Red Bulls didn't have a look in (don't forget it's their mid-season). Also, the introduction of Kane improved our shape considerably and left Bale to be more of a creative influence.

Even AVB was up on the sidelines animatedly getting his point across (a big difference from 'Arry who used to just sit quietly). Also, AVB didn't get on his haunches in that annoying crab-like yoga position, so he seems to have learnt something from his blue scum days.

Spurs were on the front foot and a well-deserved equalizer from a corner, no less. Siggy to Bale and a trademark looping header into the back of the net, 1-1.

The Spurs crowd really started making some noise. My American friends asked what they were singing. I gleefully informed them that it was "Your support is f*cking sh*t," as they quickly put their hands over the kid's ears! The best chant was "You're not even from New York". This left the Septics rolling around laughing.

From then on, it was all Spurs. Siggy was immense. Gallas was making deep runs into their box; and Bassong, when he came on, had a great game at left back. He often came forward with overlaps and put the Red Bulls under a lot of pressure.

JJ didn't shine at all, but Townsend was lively and linked up well with Siggy. Gomes was catching well, but was not pressurized by the NY forwards.

Eventually, the inevitable winner. A typical surging run from Siggy and then a beautifully bending shot into the net, right in front of the adoring Spurs contingent, 1-2.

Bale was subbed to a standing ovation, and Spurs comfortably played out the remaining time. Spurs even won a trophy, the Barclays Challenge Cup!

The second half display gave me some hope, but we definitely need some forwards (Kane tried hard but is not up to standard at present), and we need someone to link better with Siggy.

On the way out of the ground, the Spurs fans seemed to be pretty happy and confident about next season.

I hope I don't have to wait too long before the Cockerel crows again in New York.

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