Joel Lindpere scored the New York Red Bulls’ first ever goal at Red Bull Arena against Santos, and the Estonian midfielder went on to play 104 games for the club.
From Estonia, where he’s currently the Sports Director of JK Tallina Kalev, Lindpere remembers the inaugural match.
“It was a full stadium,” said Lindpere. “I know the cost of the arrangement for the game was huge, a big investment from the club. Not only the stadium, but also for the first game, and I know Franz Beckenbauer came and was in the stands. Neymar was playing against us, so a big name and big club from America.”
After three seasons with the Red Bulls, Lindpere scored 15 regular season goals, plus two postseason goals, to go with his 18 assists.
“I'm so happy that it happened,” said Lindpere on his goal against the historic Brazilian club. “Also I'm really happy that I'm in the history of one football club. For me it was also a proof that I was coming into a team, where I fit really well. I saw myself that I can count on this team and fans can count on me, so after this goal, I took down my emotions and wanted to get more, more and more. But also with this win, I think the team started to work more confident and understand how big it will be in the future.”
Hans Backe’s side finished atop the Eastern Conference in 2010 with 51 points and 38 goals scored.
“As we can see we dominated football-wise, we dominated most of the games during the season but slowed down later on,” said Lindpere. “Of course unfortunately we can always say that one really bad playoff game may have ruined a lot in the end of the year but overall, we were in a good run, and we had an amazing team that year.”
His time with the Red Bulls is one filled with special memories, which also include scoring the first ever MLS goal scored at RBA, the winning goal in the 1-0 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the Emirates Cup, and grabbing the assist that led to Thierry Henry’s first goal as a Red Bull player.
“Many great memories,” he said. “And I mean to step on these fields it means a lot to a player, and it means that also in the future you can give this knowledge and these feelings, if you can somehow give it through with your experience and knowledge to the young guys, then they know which are their goals and where they can work, especially in Estonia where there’s a population of 1.5 million.”
In May, Lindpere is set to receive his UEFA Pro Coaching License. After coaching at the youth national team levels, he’s getting ready for the opportunity to coach at club level.
“I think it's just the start because I've only been coaching at the youth national team levels,” he said. “But to coach a soccer club, it's a different thing. You need to put your time and effort on a daily basis.”
In Estonia, they know him as “a Red Bull player,” he says. Lindpere’s goals and assists will always be an integral part of New York’s history.