We arrive late, due to horrific NY/NJ traffic, and are amazed by the number of cars around the sports field of Drew University; turns out, the vast majority of people were there for various other activities. We pay $5 per person to get in, but don’t get a ticket.
I am surprised to hear the British anthem “God Save the Queen,” but then remember that the opponents are the Bermuda Hoggs. There are ca. 100 people on the one stand, but it later turns out that roughly half are parents of the kids who play a game at half time. Interestingly, many speak Portuguese and some wear jerseys of the national team of Portugal. Among the non-affiliated supporters are also a large number of Hispanics.
The game is played on Astroturf, which is remarkably dry and dusty. In the 7th minute the hosts score a goal, but it is (correctly) ruled offside. The NJ rangers have mostly local college players, while the Hoggs have a more diverse selection in terms of age. In the 13th minute a great pass is met by a good header from 10 meters: 1-0.
It is a very slow game, with huge spaces and poor control. In the 16th minute terrible defense by Bermuda leads to a Rangers shot from the edge of the penalty box that is stopped by the goalie. A minute later the Hoggs have a half decent attack over right B. The hosts are the better team, but the visitors get some chances (but they are too often offside).
After half an hour bad defense sets a Rangers striker in front of the goalkeeper, but he misses. Ten minutes later a good Rangers shot from 22 meters goes just over. In the last minute of the first half a shot from 5 meters is deflected by Bermuda defenders. Half time score: 1-0.
After the crowd finally got excited during the half time game of their kids, they returned to semi-hibernation in the second half. In the 47th minute a good attack over left by the hosts leads to a hard low shot that is saved by the goalie. Six minutes later a rare counter of the Hoggs is headed at the Rangers goalie. Again six minutes later a good Rangers attack leads to a shot at the hand of a defender and a penalty: 2-0.
In the 62nd minute a great counter opportunity of Bermuda is wasted with bad passes. Seven minutes later an almost random long free kick of the Rangers is volleyed from 5 meters and ends at the back post: 3-0.
It’s only in the last five minutes that Bermuda starts to play. In the 87th minute a long ball by the Hoggs is headed to the goalkeeper, who slips, and the striker finishes with an easy tip: 3-1. In the first minute of extra time a good Bermuda attack is blocked by a defender. Final score: 3-1.
The PDL is a hit or miss league. Most teams don’t survive for more than a couple of years or forever operate in the margins of USL soccer. The New Jersey Rangers FC are a clear miss. They have nothing to do with professional, or even amateur, soccer. They have neither fans nor a home ground. Given that they exist since 2002, that doesn’t bode well for the future.