A Night of Firsts at Red Bull Arena

It was a night of firsts Sunday evening when New York defeated DC United 3-2 on the pitch at Red Bull Arena. The sell-out crowd was deafening, the vibe was electric and the result was divine. It’s safe to there is a healthy dose of anticipation as all Red Bulls fans impatiently wait for the next home match on July 15 against the Seattle Sounders.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the “first-time highlights” from Sunday’s match:

Match Photos: DC United

Red Bull Arena Hosts First Sell Out of 2012

Over 25,000 fans packed the house Sunday night as the Red Bulls posted their fifth home win of the season in front of the first sell-out crowd of 2012. Jan Gunnar Solli, who also registered a first of his own on the night (we’ll get there soon), had this to say about the buzz at Red Bull Arena:

“The atmosphere and the way people support us, that’s good for everybody. It’s good for soccer, and it’s good for Red Bull the brand and our team, you know people come out and I think that’s exactly what they wanted to see. To see a team, everybody working so hard.”

New York’s next home game is part of a three-match July home stand, as they host the Sounders July 15, Chicago Fire July 18 and close out the run with a rivalry match against Philadelphia July 21. Tickets for all three matches are available on Red Bulls Ticket Central or by calling 877.RB.SOCCER.

Heath Pearce Wears Red Bulls’ Captain’s Armband for First Time

Heath Pearce didn’t know what to make of the captain’s armband he saw hanging in his locker when he arrived at Red Bull Arena Sunday evening. He was a bit hesitant, to say the least.

“I didn’t put it on until I got outside because I thought somebody was playing a joke on me,” he said.

Pearce picked up his first-career MLS goal Wednesday against Vancouver and followed that performance up with another solid outing that nearly saw him pick up his second goal late, had it not been for a strong save from DC’s Bill Hamid. Nevertheless, the newly-acquired defender was happy to sport the armband while holding down the Red Bulls' back line.

“Any time you get a chance to do that and represent your team as a true leader is an honor and I was excited to be able to do that [Sunday].”

Barklage's First

Brandon Barklage Scores First-Career MLS Goal

“It took four years, but it feels unbelievable,” Brandon Barklage told the media Sunday night.  “To do it against a team that told me at the end of the year last year that I couldn’t cut it there, so it feels unbelievable.”

The 25-year-old St. Louis native notched his first-career MLS goal in the 20th minute when a Joel Lindpere corner kick found its way into the box and met Barklage’s foot as he flew in on goal.

Barklage would later pick up his second goal in the 45th minute thanks to a bullet of a shot taken from just inside the box that gave the Red Bulls a 2-1 lead heading into the half.

Solli's First

Jan Gunnar Solli Nets First-Career MLS Goal

Over the span of 42 regular season games with the Red Bulls, there were times when Jan Gunnar Solli had come this close to notching his first-career MLS goal. In game 43, he finally hit pay dirt.

“It was a long run for the first goal, but it will be nice to see it in replay because I haven’t done it,” he said after the match.

Solli’s goal found its way into the mesh when he followed up his initial shot that was pushed aside by DC’s Hamid and sent the rebound into the side netting to give the Red Bulls a 3-1 lead. His tally in the 55th minute stood as the game winner, as the Red Bulls improved their home record to 5-0-2 and moved into a tie for first place in the East with DC United.