I’m coming to you from the Red Bull Salzburg-Wacker Innsbruck match in Salzburg Austria and there are definitely moments where you can imagine this being a Red Bulls match in Red Bull Park two years from now. Well, except for the whole everything being in German thing.
It’s a cold Wednesday night, a Champions League night, and this match was rescheduled after Saturday’s snow storm. Despite all that there is a pretty lively, if small, crowd. That’s the thing about soccer-specific stadium done right. Even when you don’t get a full crowd of 25 to 30,000 you can still have great atmosphere. I would put tonight’s crowd at about 12-15,000.
The best part of the stadium? The supporter’s section, which looks to have concrete pillars instead of regular seats. It is also guarded from projectiles by a net and a phalanx of security on each side. Will this be the setup in Red Bull Park? I can already see the Screaming Eagles filling a corner of Red Bull Park with all that protection around them.
The soccer is pretty good, with some sharp passing from both sides. The artificial turf surface makes for some quick ball movement and Salzburg does a good job of keeping the ball on the ground. No goles through 30 minutes but it’s been entertaining.
I will say that I am more intrigued than ever to see a Salzburg-Red Bull New York match. The Red Bulls are scrimmaging Salzburg’s senior team on Thursday, but only players who don’t play much tonight, so that won’t tell us much. I think a full-strength Red Bulls team would match up well with Red Bull Salzburg.
I’ll give Salzburg manager Giovanni Trappatoni credit, it feels like it’s 20 degrees out and he’s wearing just a suit. Me? I’m wrapped up in a wool blanket (l didn’t bring a winter coat to Austria. Yes, I’m a genius). Also deserving some credit is Red Bull Salzburg defender Jorge Vargas, the only Salzburg player wearing a short-sleeve jersey. Yes, he’s crazy.
Interesting note about Vargas. I’ve spoken to him a few times during the trip and he admitted that Bruce ARena had inquired about acquiring him a year ago, but Trapattoni wanted to keep him. It should noted that Vargas’ contract expires at the end of this Austrian season and he told me that he would be interested in joining the Red Bulls. The only problem, I would imagine, is that the Red Bulls wouldn’t be able to afford him.
I’ll offer a more detailed report of my game-day experience in Salzburg. I just wanted to give you guys some insight into what it’s like here.