Barcelona Sporting Club midfielder Janner Corozo defends against a player from Unisamba Futbol Club Silk City during Barcelona's Noche Amarillo at Hinchliffe Stadium on Sunday, February 11, 2024.
Ecuadorian Soccer Takes Center Stage at Hinchliffe Stadium
February 12, 2024
PATERSON, N.J. – While many had their focus on Sin City, and the whereabouts of Taylor Swift, nearly 7,000 people shifted their attention to the Silk City, as Hinchliffe Stadium welcomed, arguably, the most popular soccer team in Ecuador, Barcelona Sporting Club. At the start of each season, Barcelona S.C. presents La Noche Amarilla, which means the Night of Yellow, the club's dominant color. To kick off their 2024 campaign, this storied club selected Hinchliffe Stadium for this monumental event.
Although the temperature was in the high 40s, there was an indescribable warmth at the corner of Liberty and Maple. The Barcelona faithful arrived early to see the Great Falls, then began filing into Hinchliffe Stadium a full two-hours before kickoff to see their beloved club take on the Unisamba Futbol Club of Silk City, a team that plays in the United Premier Soccer League.
A packed Hinchliffe Stadium sang "Salve, Oh Patria," the national anthem of Ecuador, waved large supporter flags, and orchestrated chants ahead of kickoff.
"This atmosphere is inspiring," said Christian Bermudez, a player on Unisamba F.C. "Seeing the beautiful people here today on Super Bowl Sunday shows you that soccer keeps growing in America."
Once the game started, the packed house saw midfielder Fernando Gaibor just missing a goal wide left that hit an advertising flag in the 11th minute. In the 21st minute Barcelona's Francisco Fydriszewski attempted to score, but Silk City's goalie made an incredible block, however, the block landed right in front of forward Djorkaeff Reasco, for the easy goal, to make it 1-0 in favor of Barcelona.
Gaibor, who just missed a goal earlier in the game, redeemed himself in the 40th minute as he weaved past Silk City defenders, created separation, and struck a goal from 20 yards away to give Barcelona a commanding 2-0 lead going into halftime.
During halftime, the crowd was entertained by traditional Ecuadorian music, and upon return to play, the enthusiastic throng even entertained itself, when in the 51st minute, the entire stadium started doing the wave multiple times. This uniquely American tradition, during an international friendly, precisely describes how sports has the power of uniting people.
The wave would quickly turn into cheers as Barcelona forward Allen Obando scored the third goal for the Men in Yellow off a pass from Anibal Chala. All was not lost for Silk City, in the 66th minute, the club was awarded a free kick. Silk City's Julian Lenys was up to the challenge and struck a successful goal to put Silk City on the board avoiding the shutout.
"I'm very proud to have played in this match in front of the people of Ecuador and against such a storied franchise," said Lenys immediately after the game. "For me, this is my Super Bowl."
Prior to this game, the last soccer game featuring a professional team at Hinchliffe Stadium occurred on August 6, 1989 when the New Jersey Eagles defeated the Washington Diplomats 3-2 in an American Soccer League contest in front of 576 people.
The last time that Hinchliffe Stadium held this many patrons for an event was Thanksgiving Day 1988 when 7,500 people came to see the Eastside/Kennedy game. This game was won by Kennedy by a score of 33-6.
In the 33rd minute, Barcelona's Adonis Preciado attempted to score the second goal of the game, but was wide right. The groan of the crowd resembled the roar of the Great Falls. Preciado fell to the Hinchliffe Stadium turf in disbelief.