Things heated up fast at Sara D. Roosevelt Park, on Chrystie and Stanton Streets, last night when the sixth annual NYC Showdown got underway. Fans gathered outside the field and filled the bleachers starting at 5 p.m., an hour before the game started, to see their favorite players and root for their favorite teams.
The eight-on-eight soccer match, hosted by the Steve Nash Foundation, inspired some friendly competition amongst international soccer stars and NBA players as Nash tried to keep his winning streak alive. The players were split into two teams: USA and International. Notable players on Team USA, wearing red, included Joakim Noah, Sacha Kljetan, Stuart Holden, Sammy Amoebi and Oguchi Onyewu. Team International, wearing blue, included Nash himself, Giuseppe Rossi, Simone Sandri, Massimo Ambrosini, Marco Bellinelli and others.
In just two 35-minute games, 16 points were scored between the two teams. There were goals one after another on both sides of the field. Rossi, Noah and Holden were among the top scorers for their respective teams. Nash, however, did not score any goals this Showdown. Still, fans were on their feet as they watched the intensity on the field. There were many oohs and ahhs, as well as laughter at attempted goals and great plays.
Both soccer and basketball fans came out for the Showdown last night, but it wasn’t the game alone that brought people to Chinatown. Siblings, Jim and Mary Pearl, in their Los Angeles Lakers jerseys, were here as dedicated Nash fans and because they liked his cause of helping underprivileged children. “I think what he’s doing is great, for the kids and the community,” Jim said.
As for the younger crowd, many were just excited to see their favorite pro athletes, playing their favorite sports. Omar Naimi, 18, from Whitestone, Queens who is both a soccer and basketball fan, thought the Showdown was “amazing” and he would definitely return next year. “I think the best part was Joakim Noah’s last goal of course, where he finally scored from long range then he ran around just celebrating with the rest of us,” he said.
Though Nash and his team fought for the win, they fell short by just two points. Team USA won 9-7. Noah, from the Chicago Bulls, who scored three goals last night, including the final goal, was awarded for Girard-Perregaux’s Most Valued Player for this year’s Showdown. Maybe Team USA will start their own winning streak next year at the seventh NYC Showdown.