Because I don’t know squat about the East Coast, I’m hilariously incapable of putting together suggestions for travelers. Fortunately, though, Wayne Girard, who’s from the area and knows a thing or two about soccer, is on the job. Even though he’s an AS Roma fan, he’s a very swell dude and writes really good stuff; find his bylines at Roma’s official English language site, the Gentleman Ultra, These Footy Times, and others. Here’s his Twitter feed, which is also very good.
On Wednesday, July 24th, Fiorentina will play Benfica in the International Champions Cup at Red Bull Arena. With Roma’s loss becoming the Viola’s gain, Rocco Commisso will be relishing a chance to stage his new club in an international tournament—all coming right in his backyard.
Of 13 soccer-specific stadiums in Major League Soccer, Red Bull Arena is regarded as one of, if not the, best in the league. Opening in 2010 at a cost of $200 million, it’s located in a revitalized area of Harrison, New Jersey, just a 20 minute Path Train ride from World Trade Center. An area that used to be old steel factories and warehouses along the river, the location no supports mixed use buildings and a thriving commuter village in the stadium’s immediate surroundings.
With Fiorentina fans making their journey from far and wide, there are a few spots which can make the most of the day that officially commences a new era in Fiorentina’s history. With parking abundant at the stadium and in adjacent lots, it is just as convenient for those arriving via the Path Train system, which has schedule for the Harrison stop available here.
Those leaving from Newark Penn Station must take the red line towards the World Trade Center (it’s the only available train at the station anyway), and if you’re coming from Manhattan, you can connect to Harrison by taking the 33rd Street or World Trade Center Path to Journal Square, and then connecting towards Newark.
There are a few franchises around for eating, as well as street vendors (try the lady’s barbecued corn if you see her), but your best bet is Catas in Newark, where Viola Nation will be meeting with other supporters. Just steps from the bridge over the Passaic River, Catas is a Spanish tapas spot with drinks and outdoor space. It’s also a fan favorite for Red Bull supporters, who line up here before marching over and closing down the bridge down with flares. There will definitely be a lot of Benfica fans given the area’s demographics, so be sure to bring the purple ones if you’ve got them.
For tickets, be sure to try for section 127, which will be a supporters section along with Viola Club New York.
Everyone buy Wayne a beverage of his choice (he’s also willing to let you crash on his couch in exchange for a nice bottle of chianti, but that’s between you and him). We’ll see you there.