After four hours of traveling from Reno, Nevada to Santa Clara, California, I arrived at Levi Stadium. It was warm, but not Nevada Warm. 45 minutes and a ton of questions later, I found my way to media will call. The stadium loomed in the background as I sent my bags through a machine that looked straight out of the Jetsons. My journey to get into Levi’s stadium was all but complete.
The first thing I noticed was how gorgeous the stadium is. 49ers red was, unsurprisingly, everywhere. Far from a bad thing, as the stadium is stunning. The stadium’s capacity is 75,000 and all of the empty seats made it look massive. After entering Levi’s, I made my way to the press box.
En route to the press box, just about everyone I talked to was helpful. A gentleman told me that the box was on the eighth floor, so I hopped on the press elevator and was in the box in no time. The press box was also massive and consisted of three different levels with glass windows from the floor to the ceiling. After about 10 minutes of soaking in the press box and about an hour before match start, I decided to head to the field to take some pictures.
As many of you probably know, I try to take my own pictures for my articles. With the Reno 1868 FC and Reno Aces, I am allowed to take these photos from the sidelines or from a place very close to the field. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do either of these things for this match because I did not have access with my media badge. Either way it was really disappointing to not be able to take pictures from some of the field’s better angles. That’s not to say that I didn’t get quality pictures, just that I could not take them from field level.
After my failed attempt to get on the field, I returned to the press box where the game began. I was pleased to see that J.T. Marcinkowski, Reno 1868 FC’s usual starting goalie, was between the pipes for the San Jose Earthquakes. Chris Wehan, Joel Qwiberg, and Luis Felipe were also a part of the Quakes starting XI.
The first half included a few chances from Manchester United with one shot being stopped by the pipes. Marcinkowski looked solid, as did the rest of the squad as they held Manchester United to 0-0 at halftime.
The second half saw Matt Bersano and Paul Marie enter the match. Both players have played for Reno’s team this year. Vako, Chris Wondolowski, and Magnus Eriksson were also among those subbed in.
I spent most of the second half in the stands trying to take pictures of the action. I was unable to get too close, but was surprised to find that the lower level stands weren’t that far from the field. Thus, my aforementioned photo problems were solved! I also took this opportunity to further explore Levi’s Stadium while looking for different angles of the field. It was at this time that I really started to feel the 35,000 people in attendance. You can hear the crowd in the press box, but it was an entirely different atmosphere being amongst the crowd.
I spent the last 10 minutes of the match back in the press box, where it ended in a 0-0 draw. With all of the hype behind Manchester United and European soccer, I was expecting at least a couple from the visiting club. San Jose is also far from being one of the better American clubs, but I was pretty happy with how it performed and with the Reno 1868 FC regulars that played.
Following the match, I headed down to the press conference room where Manchester United Manager José Mourinho fielded questions from the media. I was hoping to get a chance to talk to some San Jose players who have played for Reno 1868 FC, but Mourinho was the only individual who fielded questions.
Following the short press conference, I headed to the exit and found myself walking alongside Wondolowski which was very cool. Overall, my experience covering the San Jose Earthquakes and Manchester United friendly was overwhelmingly positive and is something I would like to do again in the near future.
Since the friendly, the Earthquakes have lost an MLS match at home against Seattle Sounders FC, 0-1. Manchester United has since defeated AC Milan 9-8 on penalties following a 90 minute 1-1 draw. The match was Manchester United’s first International Champions Cup match.
Featured image by John Macaluso