Later this month, the Red Bulls will play host to a major European side for the first time at Red Bulls Arena when Italian Serie A powerhouse Juventus visits on May 23. The 27-time Italian champions from Turin have a worldwide following and are one of the most recognizable clubs in world soccer. It will be the first time that Red Bull Arena will host some of European soccer’s greatest players, as Juventus features Italian stars such as Alessandro Del Piero, among others,. Aside from their many Italian greats, Juventus has quality players from all over the world including France’s David Trezeguet, Mali’s Mohammed Sissoko, and Brazilians Amauri, and Diego.
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While Juventus’ players have played in some of the most famous cathedrals of soccer across the globe, the prospect of playing in the best stadium in the United States is an exciting opportunity. Juventus midfielder Diego, who used to play for Brazilian club Santos, has heard nothing but positive things about the Red Bulls’ new palace.
“Of course, the information is really good about Red Bull Arena,” Diego said. “So that’s what I expect, a beautiful stadium.”
Juventus will wrap up their 2009-10 Serie A campaign on May 16th, and will quickly be on their way to Harrison. While their season will be over, the club will be in match-form and will look to put on a show for soccer fans in the New York area, where the club surely has many supporters. Diego, in his first year with Juventus, is expecting a competitive affair.
“We are at a very good level at this moment,” Diego said. “The last two weeks, three weeks the team is very tired, but it’s not a problem to play one game, ninety minutes. We are ready to do that.”
The Red Bulls’ future has never looked better since the move into their new home. Diego understands the growth that Major League Soccer is going through and how important a stadium like Red Bull Arena is to the success of the league and its individual teams.
“They (MLS) can improve a little bit, but in this moment it’s a very good option for the players,” the Brazilian said. “They have the organization, they have very good stadiums. They have everything to be able to improve, and for sure they will do that.”
A grand stadium like Red Bull Arena is sure to be attractive to foreign players, as it has set a new standard which all venues in North America will be compared to. Perhaps the allure of the stadium will attract fresh faces to Major League Soccer. Diego sees it as a distinct possibility.
“It’s an attractive proposition,” Diego said about one day playing professionally in the United States. “It’s a really nice country. I also like the organization, which is very important for players. So it is a possibility.”
The Red Bulls are no strangers to welcoming in foreign powerhouses. In the past, the club has hosted world famous clubs Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Barcelona. Just a few months ago, the Red Bulls welcomed in Diego’s former team, Santos. Red Bulls fans witnessed a great event, and an even better soccer match, a rousing 3-1 Red Bulls’ victory. With the amount of support that Juventus has in the New York metropolitan area, the match should be every bit as exciting as the team’s previous international friendlies, and then some. It is sure to be a festive day.
“It will be a really nice game, a really nice party for the fans and for us,” Diego said of the upcoming match. “It would be perfect if we could play in a full stadium. I hope I can see a lot of fans there.”
Christopher Celletti is a reporter for NewYorkRedBulls.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.