BY ERIC GIACOMETTI
There were plenty of positives to take away from the latest home stand. New York managed to take seven of nine points over a brutal three game stretch and posted two consecutive shutouts. Despite the slew of injuries that have befallen this team, the Red Bulls are on top of the East and in the hunt for the Supporter’s Shield. The crowd was lively and the team produced.
Yet there’s something that seemed a bit off to me.
As I sat in 101 for the Philly tilt, I saw plenty of great tifo as the players made their way onto the field. But the one in particular that irked me a bit sat near the sideline wall and read “This is not a rivalry #thatisall.” Whether I agree or not is neither here nor there. My gripe is instead with the delivery of the message.
There’s no question that D.C. is, and we will always be, New York’s greatest rival. The history between two original MLS sides is undeniable. While they may not be their closest geographical rival, the fierceness in competition over the years trumps all. While Philly may not ever get to the status that United is at, the banner may have the exact opposite effect it was meant to have.
I’ll use an analogy that’s near and dear to my heart. As a student at the University of Maryland, I hate Duke. Despise them. Not surprisingly, the annual meeting between the two sides at the Comcast Center is always a hot ticket and sure to be a sellout. The fans come out with their most creative posters, most raucous chants, and bring it all game long because of their total hate of all things Blue Devils.
They’re our biggest rival after all; at least that’s what a Terps fan would say.
If you ask anyone at Cameron Indoor, you’d know that that Tar Heels of UNC are their sole rival in the ACC. And that’s the worst part. Duke doesn’t acknowledge us as a rival. They don’t need any sign to prove it, either. They win titles, time and time again, and regularly sweep the regular season set, much to our chagrin.
Why do with a banner what you can let your team do on the field? New York is 2-0 against Philly this year, and that says much more about a “rivalry” than any banner can. I understand the sentiment of wanting to dismiss the Union, but stating that they’re not our rival in such a public and grandiose fashion can be counter-productive. If you want to put Union fans in their place, don’t feed into “17 years, no cups” taunts.
From my own personal experience, the sting of a fan base not acknowledging you is much more painful.