The New York Red Bulls and D.C. United played to a 1-1 draw in the final tuneup before the real thing on April 17.
Playing in front of a select group of supporters, friends and family, the Red Bulls used a Danny Royer penalty kick goal to draw even with D.C. at Red Bull Arena.
"A very, very good feeling when I can see fans in the stadium. Right now, this is what we need in the whole football world," Head Coach Gerhard Struber said following the match. "Fans, supporters in the stadium, we need the normal football atmosphere back. Right now, I can feel a little bit today, it gives me a good feeling. Hopefully we can come quick back in the football life and many, many fans can come back in the stadium."
Struber was on the sidelines at RBA for the first time as Head Coach, following his first match with the club, away in the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Struber said he was impressed by the defense and the counterpressing opportunities that came about in the match. He said he'll use the next week to further solidify the club's identity and playing style heading into the first match of the year.
Captain Sean Davis said even with a few fans in the stands, it was still so much better than playing in front of an empty arena.
"It was still unbelievable how much better that was than last year," Davis said. "I just can't wait until we can have everyone back and really looking forward to that home opener next weekend."
New York opens the season against Sporting Kansas City on April 17 at 8 p.m. ET.
"Having the South Ward, even in lower capacity, is still a game-changer for us," Davis said. "It's going to be exciting being back with them at the start of the season."