With tonight marking the grand opening of Real Salt Lake’s new home, Rio Tinto Stadium, I couldn’t help but start to think about what were my most memorable soccer stadium experiences.
Think about it. What were the most memorable soccer stadium trips, moments or experiences in your history as a soccer fan? Was it a World Cup match? An MLS playoff match? Some European or South American match you were lucky enough to score tickets to?
Soccer stadium openings usually rank pretty high on such lists, but not always. I can recall attending the opening of Pizza Hut Park and while it was a good night with a good crowd, that game doesn’t really stand out in my mind for best experiences.
Here are three experiences that stood out in my mind as being among the best soccer stadium visits/moments:
Old Trafford, 2003
I was on assignment in Manchester England for a series of stories for the Herald News. Part of the trip included attending a Manchester Derby. Walking to Old Trafford that day and seeing the fans pour into that cathedral of soccer was a sight to behold, from the shielded Manchester City fans, to the loud chorus of sungs from the Stretford End. I can only imagine how much louder it would have been if Manchester United had actually won. (Side note- Tim Howard was in goal for Manchester United while Red Bulls head coach Juan Carlos Osorio was a Man City assistant and Claudio Reyna a Man City midfielder.
Signal Iduna Park, 2006
World Cup 2006 featured an unforgettable semifinal between Germany and Italy. Borussia Dortmund’s home stadium is one of the most imposing venues you will find because of the acoustics and promixity of fans to the field. I was fortunate enough to have press seats three rowns behind the Germany bench. I could have hit Juergen Klinsmann with a piece of gum, but chose not to. The Germany fans were out in force, but even more impressive was the haunting silence after Italy scored a pair of late goals to win and move a step closer to the World Cup final.
Estadio Azteca, 2005
Pulling up to the Mexican national team’s preferred stadium was a memorable moment. With no really large buildings in the vicinity, Azteca looks even more imposing than you would expect from a venue that seats more than 100,000 spectators. I remember writing that the stadium looked like Godzilla terrorizing a countryside. The U.S. national team was overwhelmed by a Mexican team that fed off the energy of the crowd (the heat and altitude didn’t help the Americans either). I must admit that I hope I live to attend a match in Azteca won by the United States. I can only imagine what the crowd would be like on that day.
Now it’s your turn. What is your most memorable stadium experience? Share your experiences below.
Crew v. Galaxy with my daughter, 10/4/2008. Her first professional game ever.
P.S. That hatrick record by #17 still stands in MLS, 10 yrs later!
Great topic…over 20 yrs. its hard to pick! WC in Orlando w/ the crazy Holand and Irish fans closed street party Church Street Station, Intl games at Tampa, Joe Robbie and Orange Bowl 80k crowds of Colombia, Brasil, Argentina, Costa Rica, Peru, USA, Haiti, Jamaica, etc. Ofcourse the very best is My Beloved Fusion, four years of magic in a bottle. Was at RFK, on my birthday on a thurs., on the field at the half! They also played on a sat on my birthday…Mi Amor scored for me, great hatricks!!!
1)Suwon all the way! Surface to air missiles around the stadium. Pretty tense atmosphere! Even though there wern’t that many of us, the US fans stuck together both during and after that game, especially leaving the stadium, as it seemed everyone there was rooting for Portugal.
walking into Fritz Walter stadion for the US- Italy match back in the 06 World Cup. The team was fantastic, and we sang nonstop for the full 90 minutes.
What an amazing experience.
Being at Wembley for the US-England game. A crappy game from a fan’s perspective, but awesome to see the famed Wembley.
My most memorable soccer moments are:
1) Stadion Oláh Gábor Ãšt – I was in Debrecen, Hungary in the summer of 2005 and I was able to catch a UEFA Champions League 2nd Round Qualifier between the local side, Hungarian champions Debrecen VSC and Croation side HNK Hajduk Split. The match finished as a 3-0 win for the Hungarians and the traveling Croatian supporters launched fire flares towards the pitch in the second half. Amazing…
2) Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – I am a season ticket holder for the Colorado Rapids and I saw the Rapids take on LA Galaxy for the opening match of 2008. It was great to see Becks. Colorado won 4-0 too!
3) Toyota Park – I travelled to Chicago to see my first ever MLS All Star Game. Chelsea FC were the visitors and they fell 1-0 from a Dwayne de Rosario goal. The following year I saw Celtic FC lose to the MLS All Stars in Denver and I was in Toronto for the 2008 All Star Game! Next summer: Salt Lake City!
Holy cow Dave N…you win! Anyone who’s never seen that game should find a way to do so immediately.
“1982 – Estadio Sarria in Barcelona, I was at the Italy/Brazil World Cup”
WC 98 Italy-Austria @ Stade de France. Baggio came on in the second half and immediately changed the level of electricity on the pitch and in the entire stadium.
Fiorentina-Torino in 1999. First serie A game. The closest I’ve ever been to the field at a professional game. I’ll never forget the ridiculous athleticism of Batistuta.
USA VERSUS ENGLAND, BELO HORIZONTE CIRCA 1950
My First Soccer game!
Pizza Hut Park summer 07
FC Dallas v. Houston Dynamo
I went to support the “Hoops” because they are my “home town team” (I’m not from Texas, born and raised in Georgia; Go Silverbacks, Go Kandji).
I arrived at the stadium and saw four buses and a bunch of people dressed in orange and black. I figured they were the visitors because of the color clash. As I made my way into the stadium they were coming in also. They had drums, horns, etc. I thought to my self “these must be the fan-a-tics”.
After making it through security, I started for my seat. I noticed they were going the same way.
To make a Long story short. I was in the same section as the Texan Army!
They took all of the seats in the front row.
They took the seats of other people.
Of course Security Came and threw some of the guys out. They were loud and proud supporters of the boys in orange. They were so passionate about their team. 300+ ultras traveled to take over the opponents stadium.
Which was a stark contrast to the people I came to the game with.
That’s why I am a Texas two stepper.
two teams FC Dallas and Dynamo!
August 1984, Harvard Stadium, 1984 Olympics, Norway-Chile (scoreless tie). I went for the “Olympic Experience,” not the soccer. Bush senior, then-VP, was in attendance.
June 2006, RFK Stadium, my first DCU game in the supporters’ section. THAT made me a soccer fan. DCU won, but I forget the score.
June(?) 2008, RFK Stadium, Guatemala-El Salvador friendly, scoreless tie. Outside the stadium was the USA, inside the stadium was San Salvador.
Pele’s last game — Cosmos vs. Santos at Giants Stadium, 1977. I was nine years old, loved playing soccer, went with one of my teammates and his family. I don’t remember very much about the actual game, but it seemed so larger than life. If only a soccer game could always be that big a deal in the US…
1) Canada beating Honduras at King George V Ground (St. John’s NFLD) in Fall 1985…Canada’s only time qualifying for the World cup. 17,000 fans in a 5,000 seat ground.
2) Liverpool v Arsenal @ Highbury – 1998
3) Republic of Ireland beating Italy at Giants Stadium in World Cup 1994.
4) Toronto FC’s first win at BMO Field (2007)…the day 20,000 seat cushions flew.
Ok – admittedly, these are my biggest games/best fan atmosphere.
1: Camp Nou – Champions League Final ’99 ManU beats Bayern with added time comeback with 80k Man U fans in the stadium. I still get chills.
2: Jeonju Stadium – World Cup 2002 – USA beats Mexico to advance to QF against Germany. Try calling the boss and telling him you’re staying in Korea for another week…
3: Stanford Stadium – World Cup 1994 – USA loses a close one to Brazil with 100k fans on the 4th of July (my first USMNT game). This is the day I become a complete soccer junkie.
4: Spartan Stadium – Earthquakes come back from 4 goals down to beat LA and advance on towards their 2nd MLS Cup. Absolute riot erupts from fans after 5th goal.
5: Suwon Stadium – WC 2002 – US beats Portugal – Portugese fans stunned – US fans stunned (but hoarse from all the screaming) – an absolutely amazing result after the debacle of 1998.
US-Colombia in the Rose Bowl for the 1994 World Cup. What a great win, even though I still feel bad about cheering for the own goal that cost Andres Escobar his life.
US-Italy in the 2006 World Cup. The atmosphere was electric in Kaiserslautern at the Fritz-Walter Stadion.
ManU-Celtic at Qwest Field in Seattle. The first real footy event in that stadium. Sold out!
US-Canada at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, B.C. It doesn’t seat many but the US fans showed up and we didn’t sit down the whole game.
ManU-AC Milan at Giants Stadium. It was nice to see Giants Stadium full of footy fans instead of being empty like all the Metros games.
I haven’t been to too many games, as I just got into the beautiful game during the summer of 06 (seeing the US v Italy game on tv, with Dempsey standing up his Italian defender in the attacking third). but my favorite stadium match so far has been the 06 MLS cup match at Pizza Hut Park. I didn’t really care for either team, but the intense action in overtime and the PK’s was brilliant. Great seats in the houston supporter section too. Overall, my first live match and my most memorable.
WC 1994- Giants Stadium…Ireland over Italy…my dad and I had tickets in the section with all of the Irish Tour Groups…happened to be right above the goal where all of the magic happened…the experience of being in the crowd is unforgettable….
York, England…watching any game at Kit-Kat Crescent when I was on term abroad…lower division English Soccer experience is awesome…3,000 diehards rooting for their home team
Three matches stand out for me:
1) World Cup Final 1994 … not because of the soccer, but because it was the World Cup final. My dad and I were sitting on the end line (which wasn’t a great location, but, hey, we were in the stadium) on the end where they took the PKs from…
2) USA v. Trinidad & Tobago in Trinidad, 1996… again, not because it was the greatest game ever played, but to see a game in a foreign country was amazing…
3) USA v. Portugal, RFK Stadium, 1996 Olympics… the first time I remember being blown away by a US crowd…
US v Mexico 02/08
My first live soccer match and to beat arch rivals Mexico 2-0, nothing better.
El Salvador against Mexico in ES when El Salvador won.
Any game of the Galaxy in San Jose
I was at the Manchester United vs Chelsea game at Stamford Bridge last month. I wa sitting in the Manchester United supporter’s section, and wearing my Park Ji-Sung Korea Nat’l Team shirt. When Park scored the opening goal (right in front of us), the entire Man Utd section went nuts, and a guy behind me grabbed me and started shaking me while screaming. I caught the goal on my digital camera, and it was completely nuts in the stands. It will be an experience I will never forget.
Tommorows game against FIDEL Castro.
WE WANT YOU!!!
I already chimed in, but I wanted to say again what a great thread this is; lots of great stories!
1989 Highbury – Arsenal 2 West Ham 1 (league match after West Ham had eliminated Arsenal in the FA Cup) – Highbury was just a great neighborhood stadium
1994 World Cup Giants Stadium – I blew so much money for a VIP seat for all 6 matches that my one seat was the last one against the FIFA box and I could lean into it to watch the replays on television (thanks to Dr. Kolosov) – sitting behid me throughout included Joao Havelange, Rothenburg, Christie Whitman, Henry freaking Kissinger, members of the Saudi royal family (complete with bodyguards occupying seats on either side of me)
The most memorable matches
Ireland 1 Italy 0 (site opener)
Bulgaria 2 Germany 1 (quarters – best match I’ve ever seen – Balakov had the best tournament I’ve seen a player have)
Italy 2 Bulgaria 0(semis)
Worst Game – the Agoos debacle RFK 1998 qualifying USA 1 Jamaica 1
1982 – Estadio Sarria in Barcelona, I was at the Italy/Brazil World Cup game where Rossi got his hat trick and knocked out Brazil. I was standing amid 10,000 Italian fans 20 rows directly behind the goal that Zoff was protecting while under seige in the second half. there were 45,000 people crammed into a stadium that only had 15,000 seats and the atmosphere was tense, electric, crazy and loud.
Carolina Railhawks-Kansas City Wizards US Open Cup.
The ref had called a penalty and everyone was ticked. when it went silent i stood up and said, “REF GET OFF YOUR KNEES, YOUR BLOWING THE GAME!” Everyone was surprised because this was me, a 14 year old boy sitting next to my mom. She was laughing then but was pissed when we got home. I said “Mom its just a soccer game get over it”
A ’02 Flamengo match at the Maracana in Rio. Not for the game per se, but for the experience. It was absolute pandemonium and craziness, swarms of people would rush in a wave at any given time…inside the stadium during the match and you’d have to get up from your seat and run away to avoid getting trampled…and outside the stadium…same deal, with loads of police on horses breaking up gangs of people. It was completely out of control. Luckily I went with a few Brazilian buddies of mine who showed me the ropes and explained how it would be beforehand. I’ve seen some games in Europe and nothing I’ve witnessed compared to the craziness of that atmosphere…and it all taking place at such a huge and historic stadium made it all the more memorable.
I will echo all of the previous votes for US-ARG this summer in Jersey. The last 10 minutes were incredible.
Since I’ve only been to a handful of games, I will give a big thumbs-up to the US U-20 victory over Brazil in Ottawa last summer. Drove up to Ottawa alone, perfect weather, amazing crowd, old school stadium, small but passionate group of very welcoming fans from ESC (thanks for the ticket, Corey!), USA-BRA followed a great match between North Korea and a stacked ARG side. Both Korea and Argentina came into the stands between the two games, were greeted to a standing ovation from the fans and stayed to watch us hand Brazil their asses. A few 70 year old grizzled ARG fans stuck around to beat the drms and cheer for the USA. None of the replays I have managed to track down since have captured the beauty of Adu skinning his defender on the end line to cross to Jozy for the winner. Breathtaking.
Flamengo v Botafogo in Maracana Stadium (Rio, Brazil) 1978
Don’t remember much about the game (can’t tell you what the score was or who won), but the atmosphere of the place was incredible. I was 10 years old at the time and had seen a couple of Cosmos matches in NY before then, but when visiting family I had who lived in Rio my uncle took me and my cousin to see this match. I was just amazed by the atmosphere. All the huge flags waving all over the place, the way people just celebrated the game (and how nuts they went when a goal was scored). Nothing I had ever seen in the US prepared me for what they were doing there.
Also will have to say that earlier this year the US v Argentina match at Giant’s Stadium was a fun match to watch. Partly due to the fact I was cheering my team and through the match they got better and better. As a previous poster said, when the rain started to come down around the 80th minute the place just erupted and the match had turned all US. Score ended 0-0 but it was one of those games that shows that a 0-0 score can be a very entertaining match.