"Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress."—Charles Dickens
In less than a day, the New York Red Bulls will open their 2011 MLS season against the Seattle Sounders at the most electrifying soccer-specific stadium in the United States, Red Bull Arena.
While covering the Red Bulls Media Day, which entailed the team practicing before their Q&A session, I have to admit that it felt good to be back at Red Bull Arena and to catch up with other journalists and the Red Bulls staff.
As I watched the team practice, the only voices I paid attention to in the 25,000 empty seats of Red Bull Arena were the players. During their session, I was already visualizing the southward section where I will hear the Viking Army, the Garden State Supporters and the Empire Supporters Club bringing their ruckus and inspiring the fans to disrupt their opponents' flow.
Last year's 2010 MLS season was a memorable one. With the opening of Red Bull Arena, the signings of manager Hans Backe, Joel Lindpere, Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez, and the emergence of Bouna Coundoul, Dane Richards, Tim Ream and Juan Agudelo, Red Bull fans have many things to be proud off.
Despite their regular-season Eastern Conference-leading success, the Red Bulls and their fans were bitterly stunned at Red Bull Arena when the San Jose Earthquakes and two Bobby Convey goals ended the Red Bulls' quest for the MLS Cup. Following their elimination, the only thing Red Bull fans could do was simply wait for the 2011 MLS season to begin while hoping the management doesn't make too many drastic changes.
No longer with the team is Juan Pablo Angel. While he will be missed, Red Bulls fans will salivate over the potential of 18-year-old sensation Juan Agudelo and the team's potential attacking firepower.
Much like Persephone leaving the Underworld, Red Bull fans have many reasons to look forward to the 2011 MLS season. For the first time in a long time, the New York Red Bulls have a realistic opportunity to give their fans something they've been yearning for for the past 16 years.
And I'm not talking about pomegranate seeds. I'm talking about the MLS Cup.
The Red Bulls have a chance to demonstrate to their fans and serve notice to every MLS team that they will be a force to reckon with. While fans were patient last year, that may not be the case this year.
All of this begins on Saturday, March 19, 2011 at Red Bull Arena. There's nothing else to explain, analyze or justify. The Red Bulls have their players and now it's up to the team to simply produce goals and win.
To see more of Bill Menzel's Red Bulls Media Day photos, please go to this link.
Cesar Diaz covers Soccer for Latino Sports. You may follow him on Facebook at Covering Soccer and at Twitter at @CoveringSoccer and @LatinoSports143. Please email your questions and comments to Cesar at firstname.lastname@example.org.