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Recap: Showdown in Chinatown 2012
Fresh with Euro Cup fever and following a battle of the Iberian Peninsula, fans gathered for another showdown at Sara D. Roosevelt Park. The weather was sunny and steamy – the perfect atmosphere for Steve Nash’s 5th Annual Showdown in Chinatown street footie match, benefiting the Steve Nash Foundation. This year’s big names included Salomon Kalou, Patrick Vieira, Maurice Edu, Stuart Holden, and Robbie Rogers.
Youth football clubs warmed up the field with drills, and mini games, an hour prior to kickoff – quality entertainment for the early birds roasting in the bleachers. Fans lined the field fence two and three deep. A few hung out of windows in neighboring buildings. Kids showed off ball tricks on the basketball court. The crowd was diverse, sporting a myriad of kits and after work attire – but unified by the love for the beautiful game.
I asked the guy next to me if he’d ever been to a Showdown. “No! I’m going back to Puerto Rico, but I heard my favorite basketball player, Steve Nash, was hosting a match, and Thierry Henry is my favorite footballer, so I had to check it out. Only in this city could this happen in the same place – incredible, you know?”
On the other side of me, a man was giving exasperated directions to the field. “You need to get on the F train! I told you weeks ago about this! You better hurry, I’m not going to be able to hold your seat much longer!”
The talent rolled up around quarter past six and the bleachers rose, as if for the national anthem, as the players unloaded and took to the field for pregame interviews and warmups.
The rosters were stacked to please both football and basketball fans alike. The first half kicked off with some quick paced footwork on the pitch. ESPN writer (and Manchester City supporter!) Mark Stein had a gift-wrapped opportunity for the Green Team that he couldn’t put a bow on, but then answered the crowd’s good-natured jeers by burying the munchkin in the mesh.
Both keepers were hard at work, and the crowd oohed and ahhed with every diving save. The crowd also broke out the popularized-by-the-Euro “Seven Nation Army” chant. Better than breaking out a vuvuzela, we say.
In the second half the game really opened up, and we were treated to Kalou and his fancy footwork. He was show-stopping – literally. When the ball went out of play he sat down in one of the chairs on the touch line, and the kids who were sitting on the ground jumped up for high fives and back pats. Moments later, Kalou drove one home, and the same little fans rushed the pitch and piled onto the laughing Chelsea star.
And what of Steve Nash? He had some great assists and would do Arsenal proud with his pretty passing game. He had one rocket that took the paint off the post, for sure. Despite Robbie Rogers’ gym class hero drive, the White Team (Steve’s team) won 7-6.
A few things we’d like to see next year? A new pitch (it’s time, New York), Kevin Garnett and Zidane.
Sponsors included the new YouTube “all things footie” channel Kick TV, Watahh, MLS, Red Bulls, GNC, Modells, Gucci Time Pieces, Landmark Sunshine Cinema, and Naked Pizza. Full gallery below:
-Written by Holly Louise Perry