RJ Allen’s ties to the New York City area run deep. The New York City FC defender grew up across the river in Old Bridge, New Jersey, and he was an NSCAA All-American at Monmouth.

Allen signed with NYCFC last May and made 13 starts in 2015, plus two more this season. Perhaps he will start again when he faces the Red Bulls and brother Brandon Allen next weekend.

Allen offered amNewYork his thoughts on city life and soccer ahead of the team’s visit to the defending MLS Cup champion Portland Timbers on Sunday.

 

What did you think of New York City when you first visited?

Obviously being from the area, I had spent some time in New York City growing up. I really love the city. It’s a city of full of energy, and it’s a great city to be part of.

 

How do you like riding the subway?

I’m not much of a subway guy, I’ve got to be honest. I don’t really love it, but [if] I have to take it, I will.

 

What do you love and hate most about the city?

What I hate most is the traffic. It’s tough to get into so I take public transportation. Train is usually best. What I love most about the city is the energy that comes with the city and all the multiple restaurants and sightseeing that you can do throughout New York City because it’s so massive.

 

Favorite restaurant in the city?

I’ll stick STK up there. STK downtown is one of my favorite spots. I went there for my friend’s birthday and my girlfriend’s birthday as well and loved it. I’m also trying to go to Cipriani. A lot of people have recommended it and I’m looking forward to trying it.

 

What is your favorite off-the-pitch memory of the city?

Visiting the newly renovated World Trade Center with the team. It was a great experience full of spectacular views of New York City.

 

Favorite New York team other than New York City FC?

Rangers. I’ve been following hockey for quite some time. I love going to the games. Playoffs are another level, but unfortunately they didn’t make far in the playoffs this year.

 

What makes New York soccer fans unique?

I think it’s their passion, passion for the sport, passion in the stands. Every day, you see people with soccer jerseys walking through the city. There are so many fans out there in New York City. It’s really appreciated and it’s something we don’t take for granted.

 

Do you have any gameday rituals?

No real game day rituals. I’d have to say just eat well, rest and mentally prepare going into the match.

 

Who was your childhood soccer hero?

I watched a lot of Marcelo growing up as well as Dani Alves, guys who like to attack out of the back coming into late spots, those are guys I like to mimic.