Goalkeeper, Sean Johnson, currently plays in Major League Soccer (MLS) for the Chicago Fire and is also a member of the US Men’s National Team. Go on the road with Johnson this year as he gives you a player’s view into each MLS city, as only he can do. Take a look:
So 10 days after beginning my road trip, the journey finally is ending in New Jersey. This is officially the longest time I have spent on the road during a season in my career but the experiences I’ve had getting to explore amazing cities and play against good opponents, and even better friends, has been unforgettable. The best part about it…I have so many more cities to visit!
The last game of our trip was slated against the New York Red Bulls! The stadium (Red Bull Arena) is located in Harrison, NJ but we players stay in Hoboken, NJ when visiting town. Hoboken is a mystery to a lot of people because it typically isn't the first city you think of when you hear New Jersey. Located just across the Hudson River, Hoboken overlooks the beautiful skyline of NYC. If there was a city that had hidden gems, this had to be it but I needed to find someone who knew the city in and out. Luis Robles, was my guy!
Luis has been a rock in the back, minding the net for the Red Bulls for quite some time, even setting the MLS record for most consecutive games started for a club! There is a special goalkeeper brotherhood that exists only between us guys who stand between the pipes. To set a record like that, you have to be in a city for quite some time so it’s only fitting that I sat down to get his expertise on this city. Let’s see what he had to say:
SJ: What are your favorite restaurants in the city?
LR: The city has so many options to choose from that even when you find a really good option, you feel hard pressed to go back because there are so many more to sample. However, the restaurant that I frequent the most is Nobu 57. I have a friend that works in the vicinity so it’s an easy place to meet at and enjoy the delicious menu. I’m a huge fan of the washu new style and they have a butter leaf salad with lobster that is my go-to. Another restaurant that comes to mind is Wolfgang’s. They are a traditional steakhouse that places a lot of importance to detail. My wife and I went once and we would recommend the experience to anyone looking to satisfy their craving for a bone-in ribeye.
SJ: What’s the best time of year to be in the city?
LR: Fall and winter are the seasons that probably get the most acclaim. When the trees start to change colors and the temperature cools a bit, there is a different energy in the city. Just outside the city in North Jersey and the Hudson River Valley, the trees are on another level. Just making the drive north on Palisades Interstate Hwy, one’s aesthetic senses will be overwhelmed by the gorgeous yellows, reds and oranges. However, my favorite season will always be summer. In my opinion, summer takes the cake. The longs days are perfect for grilling and since the heat isn’t overbearing, one can spend all day outside doing leisurely activities.
SJ: What can fans expect when they come to a RBNY match?
LR: They can expect to take in a game at the best soccer specific stadium in North America. The South Ward bring an electric pulse to the experience that matches the tempo in which our team tries to play. The arena was constructed with the fan experience in mind, with plenty of shade provided, or cover for when it rains, to easy access to and from the city, Red Bull Arena provides the ultimate fan experience when it comes to experiencing Major League Soccer action in the NYC Metro area.
SJ: You are right over the Hudson from NYC, how easy is it to commute back and forth? And what transportation is easiest?
LR: Just last year, the Port Authority of NY/NJ announced that they will be constructing a new PATH station in Harrison. Since then, development of retail and housing options have been at an all-time high. With Red Bull Arena being the focal point, Harrison has never been so alive. Commuters can expect fast, easy service from NYC to Harrison in a way they have never before encountered.
SJ: Best hidden gem in your city?
LR: We previously spoke about places to eat, and the city has many options especially when it comes to getting a burger. Many places claim to have the best burger and some places charge $30-$40 for their claim. However, if you want a cool NYC experience while having a fresh, solid burger, look for The Burger Joint in Le Parker Meridien off of 57th. It’s in the lobby area but tucked away so that if you don’t know about it, you would have no idea that it’s there. But my favorite little hidden gem is a small restaurant in St Marks Place. If you didn’t know it was there you would miss it. It’s called Mamoun’s and they have the best ethnic food. Fortunately for me they have several locations including one in Hoboken, NJ. Sometimes after games, when I get the craving, this convenient location ends up being where I have my post-game meal.
SJ: Best breweries/pubs/bars in your city to watch a match?
LR: We have three different supporters groups that make up the South Ward. They each have their own meeting point, where they can have a pint before marching to the match. Catas is a place that I have stopped by a couple of times and it’s just a stone’s throw from RBA. If you are in the city, Legends is another great spot to take in the game or just enjoy the many beers available on tap. One other spot that doesn’t have a supporter group affiliation but is a cool place to hang out is the Penny Farthing off of 3rd Avenue.
SJ: What’s your dream car?
LR: I have two dream cars. Because I am a family man but have the desire to go fast, I would most like to have a BMW X5M. While I was in Germany I owned one briefly and it was everything I could ever ask for in a vehicle. It had the ability to take anyone off of the line, while having ample space to comfortable seat my entire family. But the ultimate would be post-kids and that’s the Porsche 911 Turbo S. My friend has one and since he rarely drives it, he lets me borrow it every once and awhile for a week or two. Every time I drive that beast, the exhilaration I feel is unlike any other feeling a car can give.