State 2: New Jersey (East Rutherford)

July 25, 2018

For the second year in a row now, I went out to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford for a Liverpool soccer match. It was a bit rainy, but all in all a good evening. I do think this may be the last time I pay that kind of money to see Liverpool play stateside though. I’ve seen them 4 times now – twice in the states and twice in England. It’s just not the same experience stateside because it’s always in the off-season. Nonetheless, the experience reminded me about why I love this team and all the wonderful people I’ve met in life simply by being a fan of a soccer team.

I went with the soccer group from Bloomberg, where I used to work. It is amazing to hear that the soccer chat group I started way back when is now up to 300-400 people. It was honestly just a group of 6 initially for us to talk smack throughout the season. I guess during the World Cup it really grew. My friend, Raed, had organized it once again this year, so it was a large group of engineers and some tech-ops people. I met up with Nico and Greg at Penn Station after work. First, we had to find a liquor store to pick up a bottle of vodka for the train ride. Once we got to the New Jersey Transit ticket counter, the red shirts started popping up. There was a fair amount of Manchester City fans but New York is definitely red.

We had to go to Seacaucus and transfer to get to Meadowlands/MetLife Stadium. It was relatively hassle free considering New Jersey Transit’s reputation. At Seacaucus we ran into a large group of Scousers (people from Liverpool) singing Liverpool songs on the platform. It reminded me of England. They came up and immediately started with the banter, saying Greg’s vintage 90s jersey was fake. It was a good adventure down there and I saved some money on drinks in the process; the same way I used to in university.

The game itself was alright. They did end up winning 2-1. There had been a Taylor Swift concert the night before so the pitch was all torn up. Again, just furthering my point about it not really being worth it on this side of the Atlantic. Our seats were also way up in the nosebleeds since we couldn’t get Bloomberg to sponsor the outing this year. Overall, the social aspect of it and seeing some old friends really made up for a mediocre soccer experience.

I got home around midnight and didn’t sleep all that well. I definitely paid for it the next day at work. I think I’m just getting old and can’t go out like that in the middle of the week. My lesson from Philadelphia ended up being reiterated here as well – carry cash always. I had to check my bag at the stadium gates and didn’t have the $5 in cash.

While I am checking New Jersey off the list for now, even though it does feel a bit like cheating since I did it in a night. I do plan to return and do an honest to god visit of New Jersey at some point. I feel like it is a state that gets a bad reputation – but like everywhere, there has to be good and bad parts.