Before training on Friday, the New York Red Bulls stood arm-in-arm with members of the Special Olympics of New Jersey’s Unified Team, talking about both of their matches at D.C. United this Sunday.
It will be, in Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch‘s words, “two Classicos” this Sunday when his New York Red Bulls travel to play D.C. United. Following that match at RFK Stadium, the Unified Team representing New Jersey will play a team representing Special Olympic athletes from the Washington D.C. area. The team was at the Red Bulls facility to train on Friday and they were originally set to use the turf field right next to the MLS team.
But Marsch had another idea for how to start his training session. He brought the Unified Team athletes over to his group to link arms for the traditional team huddle before the start of the session. Then they went through the warm-up with the MLS stars.
There were smiles on the faces of both sets of players.
“I think it was a great experience not just for the Unified Team but for our guys too,” Marsch said.
“We all really enjoyed it.”
Marsch must be hopeful that this trip to D.C. United bears some fruit, especially after the debacle a few months back at RFK Stadium.
That match was their worst performance of their season.
In May, United won 2-0 in a game where the backline was a shambles, the midfield was over-run and the finishing was terrible. They hope to rectify things and in doing so take a big potential step in solidifying their hold on a top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Then in the following game, another team with the RBNY logo will look to come back from D.C. with a win.
The Red Bulls as an organization provide a high-level of support to the Unified Team. Over the past eight months, the team has trained weekly and there were tryouts at the start of the process, just like any elite team.
On Sunday at fabled RFK Stadium, they will wear personalized Red Bulls jerseys.
“We have two big games this weekend, two Classicos,” Marsch said. “Everybody is aware of that; we want to go 2-0.”