Shep Unleashed: August 2
Dear Thierry and Rafa,
Welcome to NY Red Bull. We’re all very excited that you're here. To help you get acclimated, I wanted to give you both a preview of the best and worst of the Eastern Conference in order to help you enjoy your stay:
New England- Boston is a great city and sports town. 400,000 college students keep the city vibrant, exciting and alive. It’s also dog friendly if you guys have pets. Unfortunately, the team plays in Foxboro, so you'll have nothing to do with Boston. Shalrie Joseph is a beast, so try to stay away from him.
Chicago- Another fabulous city. Spend an extra day or two there if you can. Sophisticated fans who will welcome the opportunity to see you both play, especially the Mexican contingent. As for the team, they now have Freddie Ljungberg and Nery Castillo, so the next major investment should be for a quality psychiatrist.
Kansas City- This one might surprise you guys as it is a fabulous city to visit. The restaurants, nightlife, cafes and bars are superb and the barbecued ribs are not to be missed. Peter Vermes has this team going in the right direction. Look out for Jimmy Conrad. He's a warrior who also doesn’t care where you two have played before.
Columbus- Always one of the better teams in MLS. Very well balanced and Chad Marshall is a player you want to avoid at all costs. Also, if there's a corner kick for you guys, stay away from taking it. The bad news is that it is Columbus (where the USA schedules their Mexico games in December). It’s not on Barcelona's radar screen either when they look to visit the United States. Another one where you get out of town as soon as possible.
Toronto- You fellows will love Toronto. It's obviously a fantastic
international city and fan base. You've both played against de Guzman
and Mista. Add De Rosario, and they are very good at home. But on your way
out of the stadium, while you're looking for a late night meal, don't
spend a lot of time with ex-Scottish international, Mo Johnston. They
call him "Trader Mo" and he'll offer you anything to come play there.
DC United- This is the real rivalry. Think Barcelona-Real Madrid. But right now, DC United is more like Oviedo. Once a great franchise, with history and tremendous teams, they are down and can't figure out how to build a stadium. Not surprising, given how well our nation’s politicians are doing. Take the Amtrak and start thinking about Baltimore for next year.
Philadelphia- Our supporter group is called Empire Supporters Club and their's is called SOB. Someone in the front office can explain what SOB stands for. That really illustrates the difference between Red Bull and Philly. Another one where you can get out quickly on the Amtrak.
Hope this helps you guys out and I will preview the Western Conference for you next week
Shep Messing is a guest columnist for NewYorkRedBulls.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.