Bull’s Eye View: For Red Bull Fans, Change is Good

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Steve Hoffman
Staff Writer

The start to the New York Red Bulls season has been disappointing on the field, but so totally fascinating off of it, that I’m almost enjoying it so far. Hear me out.

It’s mid-April, and the team finds itself with a not very stellar six games played, four points, a goal differential of -4 and most glaringly, zero wins. This is not the way the season was supposed to start, not coming off of the high of last season’s Supporter’s Shield-winning campaign and an off-season of stability and depth-building.

There are plenty things to point to in terms of why the team is off to such a slow start. Four of those first six games were played on the road. Injuries, combined with Turphobia™ have led to a frustratingly slow integration of the back four into a cohesive unit. And probably worst of all, the team has been missing it’s talismanic leader, Tim Cahill, for most of the last three matches.

For fans of the team, this is a test. Not the kind of test for which you can build up slowly and prepare — like a mid-term or final exam. This one is more like a pop quiz one week into the semester. It’s the test that comes out of nowhere to make you think, “Uh Oh, this class is not going to be as easy as I thought. I’m going to have to pay attention. I’m going to have to really learn and not just manage through the work.”

You see, the end of last season allowed the Red Bull fan base a chance to exhale. We finally reached one of the goals that we had been longing for all those years. A trophy was ours. Whew, and wow! The curse (that NEVER was, by the way) was lifted, and at the time it felt like there was nothing but smooth sailing ahead.

Even when it seemed like the team let the MLS Cup slip through it’s fingers — after all, when will we once again be assured of home field advantage through the final — we were still riding the wave of an incredible late season run of form and luck. It felt like it would just go on forever. Forever is a long time.

The way the season has opened has been a bracing splash of cold water to the face, and it’s really interesting to see how the fans have reacted. The fan base is concerned (as it should be) and demanding better results (as it has every right to), but for the most part, I’ve not seen the type of defeatist wallowing in self pity that would have been rampant by now in any previous season.

The range of fan response has spanned the entire wide spectrum from “We’ll be fine” all the way to “Petke out,” and that’s about as encouraging as any bit of soccer we’ve seen the team play this season. Last season really has changed the way RBNY fans think about their team.

Apparently, in a twist that even the front office could not anticipate, it was somehow easier to kill “That’s So Metro” than YSA.