Thursday, March 27, 2014

I'm Back In Business -- And The Arsenal Are Coming!

Two pieces of very good news came today. Far more important, especially in the short term, is that I got a new job.

This past Monday, I interviewed at an office in Queens, a short Subway ride from Port Authority. Three days later, I got the offer. I start a week from this Monday.

It means I'll have to get up at 5:30 in the morning, but for a job in New York, I'll do it. Besides, if I'm still tired, I can take a half-hour nap on the bus ride into The City. I can even add a half-hour nap on the bus ride back home to Jersey, if I still need it.

*

And, today, the New York Red Bulls and Arsenal Football Club announced a preseason friendly will be played between the teams at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, on Saturday afternoon, July 26, at 5:00.

Red Bull Arena says they seat 25,000 people. This game could be moved to MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands, with 80,000 seats, and it would still sell out. This is because it's the first game Arsenal are playing in America in the age of global satellite access to sports anywhere. Both Manchester clubs, both Liverpool clubs, Glasgow's Celtic, Chelsea, and, ugh, Tottenham have come to America. So have British clubs that not only aren't big, but (unlike Tottenham) don't even pretend to be, like Stoke City and Cardiff City. So have teams from elsewhere in Europe. The Red Bulls, themselves, have already hosted Tottenham, Manchester City, Juventus of Italy, Sporting Lisbon of Portugal, and Santos of Brazil.

Indeed, the last time Arsenal played in North America was in 1989, coming off their amazing League title win, in Miami, against Club Atlético Independiente of Avellanada, Argentina, who had just won that country's title, one of 16 they've won. (Why there, and why them, I have no idea.)

The fact that the Red Bulls' Captain is Thierry Henry, Arsenal's all-time greatest and most popular player, who is rumored to be retiring after this year's MLS season, is a big reason why.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “This will be a great chance to play in front of supporters who have not seen the team play before. The New York Red Bulls will be midway through their season, so they will provide a good test. Obviously, it will be good to play against Thierry. He is a very special player in our club’s history, and I know the players and the supporters will enjoy this very much.”

Henry himself: “It goes without saying that hosting Arsenal at Red Bull Arena will be a special moment for me, both on a professional and personal level. As I have said before, the club is in my heart, and this will be another terrific chapter in my relationship with Arsenal Football Club. Along with my team-mates, I am excited to host Arsenal in New York - one of the greatest cities in the world - and hope that Red Bulls and Arsenal fans will be able to enjoy the match."

Red Bulls Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh: “Under the guidance of Arsene Wenger, Arsenal FC has established a style and approach to soccer that is globally recognized and admired. The quality and caliber of talent that has played at Arsenal is personified by our own captain Thierry Henry – an Arsenal legend. We are thrilled to host Arsenal at Red Bull Arena in what should be a very special day for Thierry and supporters of both clubs.”

Ticket information has not yet been specified. Because I know certain people, and have gotten in good with them, I have a shot at a ticket. If, that is, I can come up with the money.

And now, unless the deadline is before my first paycheck, I will be able to come up with the money.

This is going to be a great summer. Now that I can afford to have a great summer, that is!

Now, if the Yankees can just shake off last season...

*

Days until the Devils play again: 0, as they are about to get underway, just as I'm typing this,
at home, against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Days until Arsenal play again: 2, this Saturday afternoon, 1:30 PM U.S. Eastern Time, home to Manchester City. It's no longer a question of winning the Premier League title, but of securing no lower than 3rd place and a berth in the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League, without having to play a play-in game, which they would have to do if they finished 4th.

Days until the Devils next play a local rival: 2, this Saturday night, away to the Islanders. We also host the Islanders on Friday night, April 11. We do not play the Rangers or the Philadelphia Flyers again for the remainder of the regular season. As for the Playoffs, I wouldn't worry about that. As Jim Mora Sr. would say, "Playoffs? Don't talk about Playoffs! You kidding me? Playoffs? I just hope we can win a game!"

Days until the Red Bulls play again: 3, this coming Sunday, 3:00 PM Eastern Time, home to Los Angeles-based Chivas USA.

Days until the Yankees play again: 5, this coming Tuesday, April 1, at 7:10 PM Eastern Time, away to the Houston Astros.

Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 6, this coming Wednesday night, at 11:00 PM Eastern Time, a "friendly" (exhibition game) vs. arch-rival Mexico, at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Home of the NFL's Arizona Cardinals, college football's Fiesta Bowl, and the Giants' Super Bowl XLII win over the New England Patriots.
Days until my new job starts: 11, on Monday, April 7, at 8:30 AM.

Days until the Yankees' home opener: 11, on Monday, April 7, at 1:00 PM (well, 1:07 or so), vs. the Baltimore Orioles.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 14, on Thursday, April 10, at 7:00 PM (well, 7:07 or so), at Yankee Stadium II.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 16, on Saturday, April 12, 2:30 PM, vs. D.C. United, at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington.

Days until the FA Cup Final, for which Arsenal is still eligible, at the new Wembley Stadium in London: 51, on Saturday, May 17. A little over 9 weeks.

Days until the 2014 World Cup in Brazil: 77, on Thursday, June 12. Just 11 weeks.

Days until the Arsenal-Red Bulls match at Red Bull Arena: 121, on Saturday, July 26. Just 4 months.

Days until the next North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham: Unknown. The next season's schedule, or "fixture list," usually comes out on the 2nd Friday in June. The new season usually begins on the 3rd Saturday in August, but derbies are rarely held that early in the season -- this season's September 1 match was unusually early. That opener will most likely be on August 16, which would be 142 days, but don't count on it being a derby.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 156, on Saturday, August 30, away to Washington State, at CenturyLink Field, home of the NFL Champion Seattle Seahawks. A little over 5 months.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: Unknown, as the schedule has yet to be released.  Most likely, it will be on the 2nd Friday night in September.  If so, that will be September 12, therefore 169 days.

Days until Rutgers makes its Big Ten Conference debut: 170 days, on Saturday, September 13, time to be determined, against old enemy Penn State.

Days until Derek Jeter's last regular-season game (barring injury): 185, on Sunday, September 28, against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Just 6 months.

Days until Game 7 of the 2014 World Series -- the absolute latest you can ever again see Derek Jeter in a competitive game: 216, on Wednesday, October 29. Just 7 months, and no more Jeter -- not as an active player, anyway.

 Days until the next East Brunswick vs. Old Bridge Thanksgiving game: 245, on Thursday morning, November 27, 10:00 AM. Just 8 months.

Days until the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 739, on Friday, August 5, 2016. A little over 29 months.

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