Flushing, New York - For the first time ever, Citi Field hosted its first inaugural soccer match between Ecuador and Greece National Teams.
Both national teams entered Tuesday night's friendly undefeated in their last three matches. All three of Ecuador last matches against Canada (2-2), Mexico (1-1), and Argentina (2-2) has resulted in draws.
Greece on the other hand was 2-0-1 in their last three matches where they defeated Malta twice by a combined score of 4-0 and battled Poland to a scoreless draw.
Meeting tonight for the first time ever, both National Teams battled each other in a highly physical competitive match. In the first half. Ecuador appeared as the aggressor until Tziolis Alexandros gave Greece a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute when he scored of a set piece play.
Following the goal, Ecuador level of play was momentarily deflated after Greece took the lead. Eventually, they found their balance but it may have been to late as they repeatedly missed their opportunity to tie the score with their mistimed passes. As a result, Greece had a 1-0 advantage at Halftime.
In the second half, Ecuador missed another chance to tie to the game in the 46th minute. For the second half, Ecuador passed and advanced the ball better while Greece continued to play solid defense and spread the ball throughout the field with a combination of short passes and crosses.
They finally broke through when defender Fricson Erazo tied the game in the 59th minute.
For the remainder of the match, both teams were going for the win but each teams' defense and goalkeeper prevented the opposition to score. Numerous times, both teams aggressively checked the other that a total of four yellow cards, two to each team was awarded in the second half.
While both teams battled to a 1-1 tie, the real winners on Tuesday night were the fans. If Citi Field didn't sellout on Tuesday night, it was pretty close to it. The atmosphere was electrifying and the sight of seeing a sea of fans wearing both National Teams' jerseys was a marvelous spectacle.
Both sides cheered loud and proud, did the wave together, blew their vuvuzelas, banged on their drums and hearing the Ecuadorian fans chant "Si se puede" gave this reporter goosebumps. While it's easy to focus on the solely the game and its players, the fans at Citi Field on Tuesday night made the game.
For a few hours, Citi Field was soccer heaven. It was easy to forget that the New York Yankees were playing against their rivals the Boston Red Sox at home. For a few hours, Game 4 of the NBA Finals and the Gold Cup match between the United States and Canada seemed irrelevant.
If a New York-based ownership is awarded the 20th franchise in Major League Soccer, they can thank both the Ecuadorian and Greek community who predominately live in Queens for playing a pivotal role in tonight's monumental friendly. Not only did both communities proudly represent their proud heritage.
Along with the financial woes and legal issues the Wilpon family is facing, it is highly unlikely they have the necessary capital to pay Major League Soccer the expansion fee for a possible bid in becoming the 20th MLS Franchise.
What is realistic is if the Wilpon rented out Citi Field to let's say the New York Cosmos organization for the 2013 season while the Cosmos soccer specific stadium is being built. Since they've been open about wanting to become the 20th MLS franchise and have been clear about wanting to have the team play in Queens, this scenario maybe possible.
Other than agreeing to a rental fee, the issue of converting the diamond to a soccer pitch. With that said, the conversion of turning the pitch back to a diamond maybe costly and time-consuming. Should the Mets reach the playoffs, where would the NY 20th expansion team play?
Whether this theory materializes or not, the one thing certain is that Citi Field is a beautiful boisterous place when there's a soccer match to be played. While there's rumors circulating for another friendly match to be played at Citi Field before the summer is over, the real story remains if the 20th MLS Franchise is awarded to New York.
Cesar Diaz covers Soccer for LatinoSports.com. He also writes for 5 Points Press & USSoccerPlayers.com ; your source for American Soccer news brought to you by members of the U.S. National Team. Easily accessible, you may reach Cesar at email@example.com and at Twitter at @CoveringSoccer.