By Craig Kwasniewski
Being a huge hoops and fútbol fan, I'll always post a crossover story.
Yesterday afternoon Steve Nash and a few members of the NY Red Bulls of the MLS tried to organize a pick-up soccer match in Sheep Meadow in Central Park. According to This is American Soccer:
The whole production, and I'm using that term loosely, was intended for little else than a fun day for RBNY players, families, and friends. And by friends I mean two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash and one of his several local soccer teams (this one sponsored by Promofact and made of all Italians; he plays with them in Chinatown, sometimes against the RBNY front office pick-up team).
Nash has grown friendly with Red Bulls players and staff since their meeting during the Barcelona tour last summer when Nash trained with RBNY, traded jerseys with Ronaldinho, and attended the match between the two teams. Nash lives in Manhattan during the NBA off-season. He told me last year at Pier 40 when one of his team's was playing before mine, that the city's soccer was a large part of the reason for being here.
Eric Tosi, the Red Bulls press officer on duty, said only that they were looking for "pick-up in its purest form," and that RBNY had no other agenda. No press was previously told of the event, but obviously they got club brass' blessing before showing up. Red Bull participating players consisted of Juan Pablo Angel, Claudio Reyna, Jerrod Leventure, Dane Richards, Joe Vide, Elie Ikangu, John Wolyniec, and Seth Stammler.
For those non-soccer fans out there, the Red Bull players involved were not your run-of-the-mill bench-warmers. Juan Pablo Angel is the third highest paid player in the MLS ($1.5 mil. per), the reigning All-Star MVP and one of the best forwards in the league. And we've all heard of former Team USA Captain Claudio Reyna from the World Cup. So basically, when Nash calls for a pick-up game in Central Park, the MLS comes a-running.
Unfortunately the Central Park staff shut down the gathering before it started citing that Sheep Meadow is designated only for "passive playing." With gear on, full teams and photographers around this came off as a sponsored event which was prohibited. Too bad.
Still, you gotta love that the 2005-06 NBA MVP is down for a pick-up game in Central Park of all places.
Here's Nash speaking with Captain America.