FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – As New York Jets kicker Nick Folk sat on a stool outside his locker at the team’s training facility on Wednesday afternoon, there was something unusual in his locker: a soccer ball.
Folk is a soccer fan, and one of his two younger brothers played on a youth national team. Growing up in Los Angeles, Folk played competitively and once trained at Manchester United's facility with his club team. He’s followed the Red Devils ever since and religiously watches the English Premier League, but he's an MLS fan, too.
“I followed it from the beginning,” Folk told MLSsoccer.com. “I’ve been to Galaxy games at the Rose Bowl and most recently at the Home Depot Center.”
His passion for the game runs deep. Folk said he watches matches from all over the world and even attended the World Cup final at the Rose Bowl in 1994. He’s hoping to see another World Cup soon — ideally, one hosted on domestic soil.
“I’m hoping the United States get the World Cup in 2018 or 2022,” Folk said. “That’d be great if we got the bid. I’d definitely go to a few games if it was over here again.”
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On Thursday night, Folk will definitely be watching the MLS Cup Playoffs. However, he won’t be plopped down on the sofa taking in the ESPN2 broadcast; rather, he will be at Red Bull Arena watching the second leg of New York’s Eastern Conference semifinal series with San Jose (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
Folk attended a game at Red Bull Arena earlier this year and described the stadium as “a really great place to watch a soccer game.”
He will most likely be joined by a teammate, too — defensive end Trevor Pryce, also a big soccer fan. Last month, Pryce told ESPN Radio 1050 in New York that he would rather watch Thierry Henry than go to Yankee Stadium, and recently told MLSsoccer.com that he was planning on going to a playoff game in November to watch Henry play.
Folk is also an Henry fan and hopes the French superstar, who has been troubled by a knee injury and missed the Red Bulls' last three games, will be available for Thursday's game.
"He’s a great player," Folk said. "I saw him play Manchester City [in the Barclays New York Challenge] and he looked good.”
Folk may have been to his fair share of Los Angeles Galaxy games, but he's looking forward to seeing more action at Red Bull Arena. In fact, he might soon become a member of Hans Backe’s Viking Army.
“Now that I’m in New York now, it looks like I’ll be rooting and pulling for the Red Bulls a lot more,” Folk said.
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012
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