Sunday evening, following the Red Bulls' 1-0 win over FC Dallas, the NYPD and FDNY soccer teams took the field for the Fifth Annual Battle of the Pitch at Red Bull Arena. This year, despite good chances at both ends, neither team could net a goal in regulation and the match had to be decided on penalty kicks. The events certainly brought back memories of last year's match - a dramatic eleven-round penalty-kick win for the FDNY team.
Proceeds from the match went towards the Sergio Villanueva Foundation. Prior to his career as a firefighter, Sergio was a police officer and detective for the NYPD and a huge soccer fan. The Argentinian native was a victim of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, where he died alongside fellow policeman and fireman, and he is forever remembered for his bravery and devotion to the city. Sergio’s love for soccer lives on in the Battle of the Pitch at Red Bull Arena.
The NYPD had a chance at goal in the 18th minute. The ball was passed down the right wing and a low cross was sent into the box, but it was tipped right to the goalkeeper for the easy save.
In the 34th minute, the NYPD came inches away from scoring the first goal of the match when the forward took a shot from the top of the 16-yard box, but the FDNY defender deflected the shot. The ball rolled towards the far post, but hit the post.
In the 51st minute, a FDNY forward took a long shot that sailed over the goalkeeper’s head, but it hit the crossbar.
Just moments later, a NYPD forward intercepted a pass and attempted a chip shot, which beat the goalkeeper, but the shot hit off the post before being cleared out by a FDNY defender.
For the penalty kicks, the NYPD goalkeeper came up huge, stopping two of the four shots he faced. The NYPD forwards scored on all four of their attempts to win the match, 4-2, on penalty kicks.
Prior to the match, both coaches talked about the once in a lifetime opportunity it is to play on the field at Red Bull Arena.
FDNY’s coach said, “For us, it’s always exciting. It’s the nicest soccer stadium that we’ve ever played in. It’s a great atmosphere, it’s nice that some of the crowd sticks around; it’s always great coming off a Red Bull win and they’ve been very hospitable to us. It’s a great opportunity.”
“Playing at this stadium is the best thing for us. Most of these guys grew up playing in college, they’ve never played at a big event like this, so by the Red Bulls giving us the opportunity to play here, it’s a dream come true for most of these guys. I just want to thank the Red Bulls for the opportunity,” said the head coach of the NYPD.