The Premier League came to Red Bull Arena on Friday night.
As part of the 2023 Summer Series ahead of the 2023-24 season, Newcastle United F.C. and Brighton & Hove Albion F.C. played one another on a scorching night.

Newcastle Brighton
Photo: Michael Battista/NYCSN

A late rally by Newcastle’s Elliot Anderson gave The Magpies a 2-1 win.

Overall the game was more spectacle than competition. While the Summer Series includes six Premier League teams in a single table, the one that finishes first will get little more than a trophy.

Both teams are set for major European competitions this season, so the risk of injury, especially on the hottest day so far this year in Harrison, was not a smart risk.

Newcastle Wins Late in Spectacular Second Half

Brighton played with eleven new starters from their game last weekend against Chelsea, with a huge bench of reserves.

Newcastle followed suit, but regular stars like forward Bruno Guimarães and midfielder Jacob Murphy made starts.

In terms of competition, Brighton won the scoreless first half. They led in shots after 45 minutes (8 to 2); however, only one was on target. The seagulls looked better in possession, held the ball more, and looked threatening against goalkeeper Nick Pope. Meanwhile, both of Newcastle’s shots were on target against Bart Verbruggen.

The second half was far more exciting for the announced sellout (25,000) crowd in Harrison. Former England National team player Danny Welbeck tapped in a cross from Kaaoru Mitoma in the 49th minute. A slight deflection off Pope’s hand put the ball right at the forward’s foot in front of an empty net. Brighton fans were the minority in terms of support on Friday against Newcastle. But the goal made the group sound just as loud as their black and white opponents.

However, Newcastle eventually demonstrated how they finished top four in the Premier League last season. That performance secured a place in the historic Champions League tournament for the team. A cross into the box in the 86th minute headed towards Scottish youth international Elliot Anderson. Despite him and a Hove defender falling to the ground, Anderson recovered quicker. He jumped on the ball and shot a missile into the left side of the net to make it 1-1. A few minutes later, in stoppage time, a long pass found Anderson on a run. He edged out a defender challenging him and shot low, and left past Verbruggen to score the game-winner in stoppage time.

Newcastle ended the summer series undefeated (one win, two draws) and with five points. Probably not enough to win the trophy. But enough positives against like Hove and London side Chelsea F.C. to call it a major success.

But as stated before, the game was more event than anything else. Despite being announced as a “sell-out,” the game felt did not feel like it broke the 25,000 mark that Red Bull Arena can hold. Something like last year’s friendly between RBNY and FC Barcelona did that in spades. Friday night, while well attended, felt closer to around 20,000 (if not 18k).

New Jersey Soccer Welcomes the World

Friday night’s match was a culmination of international events in the area. The day before, on Thursday, members of both Newcastle and Brighton took part in the opening and dedication of a new mini-pitch in Kearny, New Jersey. They were joined by members of the premier league, local government officials, and the Governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy. 

“When it comes to soccer, there are few places more special than Kearny, New Jersey – the birthplace of American soccer,” said Governor Murphy during the ceremony. “Soccer builds community, breaks down barriers, and forges relationships across cultural and geographic bounds. I am grateful to our partners – the Premier League, EA Sports, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the Kearny School District – for their help in building this mini-pitch and creating a lasting legacy for our communities to enjoy.” 

Following the presentation the Governor spoke with New York Sports Nation about the continued soccer expansion in his state. This includes being named a host region for the 2026 FIFA World Cup alongside New York, with the final being considered for Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford.

“This is a huge deal,” The governor said. “Ed Foster-Simeon and the US Soccer Foundation, he’s a dear friend for over 20 years, has made it his passion to bring soccer into communities like Kearny. Now Kearny didn’t need it, ’cause Kearney’s already a hotbed, but to get the next generation hooked on that sport, to have this field here, huge shout out to the Premier League leadership. They’ve been awesome. It’s just one of these days where one plus one equals three. You’ve got EA sports, the Prem, Kearny, British Government, New Jersey’s government. Good as it gets.”

The Governor was also adamant that his state was ready to host the competition, going so far to say it could have happened “this summer”. Under Murphy the state has hosted multiple major events including a WrestleMania and the upcoming NHL Stadium Series, both held at Metlife. The stadium has also recently hosted major concerts for Taylor Swift and Beyoncé. A series of shows for NJ legend Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are also scheduled for next month.

In terms of soccer, Metlife also hosted a friendly between English Premier League sides Arsenal F.C. and Manchester United F.C. last weekend which drew over 80,000 to East Rutherford.

But for Murphy the continued growth of the game also has another benefit; the continued growth of women’s soccer. Murphy is a part owner of NJ/NY Gotham FC, a professional women’s soccer team that plays in Harrison. He happy to see the women’s game “being thought of equally” as the men’s side, especially during the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup. Opening up access to the game with projects like the mini-pitch were steps to aid that.

That includes a recent Kearny signing to the professional leagues. Goalkeeper and Kearny local Meagan McClelland recently signed a professional contract with the San Diego Wave FC of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). While the contract is only temporary while the World Cup limits San Diego’s roster, Murphy commended another Kearny player going pro.

“Hudson County is a great location for us, Kearny in particular. But the women’s game, you look at the World Cup right now, the women’s game is on fire,” Murphy said.

The Other Teams Return Home Soon

Red Bull Arena’s other tenant will return on Sunday night. The New York Red Bulls host Liga MX side Atlético San Luis in the Leagues Cup tournament. New York needs a draw or win to advance into the competition’s knockout stage. San Luis is looking to avenge its loss, 5-1, to the New England Revolution earlier this week. The Mexican side will need an outright win to advance. New York returns to league competition later this month after losing to FC Cincinnati two weeks ago.

NJ/NY Gotham FC returns to Red Bull Arena on Saturday, Aug. 5. The women will host the North Carolina Courage in an NWSL Challenge Cup match.

Photo: —

One Comment

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    July 31, 2023 at 1:31 am

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