Photo by ISIphotos.com
BY DYLAN BUTLER
Khano Smith wasn't about to engage in any Dema Kovalenko-type trash talk about former head coach Stevie Nicol or anyone from the New England Revolution. He said he remains friends with many of his former teammates and credits Nicol and Paul Mariner with helping to advance his career.
But come Saturday night at 7:30 p.m., those friendships are out the window when one of the most intense rivalries in Major League Soccer is renewed at Giants Stadium.
"It's going to be strange because, being on the other side, we hated each other," Smith said. "I don't hate them, but playing for New York, I can't like them. I don't like them anymore. I can't. It should be fun."
Smith said he'd be excited about making his New York Red Bulls debut regardless of the opponent. But he also appreciates the irony that his first game will be against the New England Revolution.
"It's going to be strange, but at the same time it's the first game of the season," Smith said. "It's going to be good to play, get the first game under my belt. I don't care who it is against, but it just happens to be against them so it makes it a little more special."
Smith had to sit out New York's regular-season opening 3-0 loss at Seattle because he was serving the final game of a three-game ban for a red card in the final week of the 2008 regular season.
The Bermudian international spent four years with the Revs and has some fond memories of his games against New York, especially scoring the dramatic winner in the 2005 Eastern Conference Semifinal Series after New England rallied from a 2-0 deficit.
"It's been good because I've had some good moments and we've had some bad moments, too, but it always seemed like it was entertaining," said Smith, who called the MetroStars' wild 5-4 win on Sept. 17, 2005 "probably the most exciting MLS game I've ever been a part of."