A year ago this Monday, shiny $250 million Allianz Field made its debut with Minnesota United playing to a 3-3 draw against New York City FC in a match that featured a kaleidoscope of color and sound, a frantic pace and one point gained for the home team.
Supporters arrived four hours early, some carrying banners and maybe even a tune as well.
Most everybody wore scarves — a soccer tradition turned practical on a windy, 40-degree day — to cheer a Loons team that started the season 3-2 in five road games.
The afternoon began with a flyover by two Blackhawk helicopters and an elegantly performed national anthem.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber, U.S. soccer officials, mayors and rapper Slug from the Minneapolis hip-hop duo Atmosphere and the team’s ownership group were among the dignitaries who came to an architectural jewel envisioned by United managing partner Bill McGuire and Kansas City stadium designer Populous.
“This probably will be the only time in my career to do what we did today,” Loons midfielder Ethan Finlay said.
“It was special. I had hairs on back of my neck standing up as we came out of that tunnel.
Attendance: 19,796 fans, a sellout.
First goal: Four-time MLS All-Star Ozzie Alonso, after 10 seasons in Seattle, needed just 13 minutes inside his new team’s home to score Allianz Field’s first goal.
His powerful volley came from 8 yards out after an NYCFC defender headed away Loons forward Angelo Rodriguez’s scoring attempt.
“And it was a class goal,” teammate Brent Kallman said. “What a finish, perfect technique. Yeah, I was a little jealous.”
First yellow card: Alonso’s foul on NYCFC Maximiliano Moralez in the eighth minute.
First blue smoke sighting: The Loons’ supporters section let loose after Alonso’s goal.
First assist: Finlay, on Rodriguez’s goal that tied the score 2-2 in the 20th minute.
First big oops: NYCFC keeper Sean Johnson turned the most innocent of long balls played back to him into a weird own goal after he tried to switch the ball from one foot to the other and it got away.
It gave the Loons a 3-2 lead in the 32nd minute.
Big smile, bigger capacity? Garber attended his 20th opening of a new MLS stadium with a big smile.
“It has been a happy day,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of happy days lately. Every one of them is special in their own way … I wish this stadium wasn’t 19,000, I wish it was 27,000.
“I think at some point we’ll be thinking how do you make the stadium bigger, and I think we’ll be dealing with that in a number of markets.”