Bull’s Eye View: What the Red Bulls Have That NYC FC Don’t

IMAGE, ROB TRINGALI, NEW YORK RED BULLS

BY STEVE HOFFMAN
Staff Writer

It’s finally happening.

After a false start or two (or three) with the return of the NY Cosmos, “NY2” is finally entering the last phase of it’s birth process. With less than a year to go before they play their first game, we are in for a 12-month-long, steady stream of stadium announcements, player signings, and kit unveilings. Not to mention, approximately 365.25 days of hand wringing, doubts and a general feeling of discomfort from the New York Red Bulls faithful.

As RBNY fans, we’ve lived through the first few phases of this process and survived fairly well. The team is (well, was; ok, maybe, is) performing well on the field and we had the Supporters’ Shield win last fall to help ease us through a long, cold winter. Last week’s debut of the official New York City Soccer Club (NYCFC) badge was but a small milestone in the process of the club’s birth, but it felt in some way to be a warning shot across the bow of RBNY fandom. Seeing the official badge made this team feel “more real” than it has ever been.

And yesterday brought us a little mini-event calibrated to push the buttons of any RBNY fan, as a former “supporter” of the Red Bulls announced anonymously (“announced anonymously” — now that’s a phrase only George Carlin could love) that he or she is jumping ship, and has marked the occasion (both figuratively and literally) by getting a tattoo of the new team’s new logo on some unidentified part of their body. Despite the provocative nature of the gesture, let’s just agree to file this action under “Things we should have saw coming.”

So, here we are. Supporter’s groups are forming. Fans are getting “inked.” Combat lines are being drawn, as little by little, some current RBNY supporters are swearing their allegiance to the shiny new thing in town. But what are they actually fans of?

The team has a name (not a very imaginative one, but yes, I know I don’t stand on very solid ground on that particular point). It has a few respected executives and a proven MLS head coach. And it now has a badge.

But there is no roster. There is no stadium other than a possible baseball field and/or a rumored temporary stand somewhere in the suburbs. There are no matches for the next 12 months. No wins. No losses. No cheers. No chants.

For what are the fans of this new venture actually rooting? The easiest thing in the world for which to root: the IDEA of a team. The next year is going to be a challenging one for RBNY fans, as the ups and downs, the struggle and the drama of a normal MLS season will be constantly compared with the sanitized, managed, public relations and marketing-driven IDEA of a team. Every move will be calculated to show this IDEA in the best possible light. Most of the setbacks that NYCFC experiences in the next year will be buried as the signings and positive announcements are trumpeted over and over again.

There’s a reason we are fans of sport. The drama and opportunity to overcome obstacles and rivals are core to the reason why we root. So, RBNY fans, don’t get thrown off by the shiny, sanitized thing that’s being waved in your face. You are supporting something real, emotional and rewarding. Something that won’t be available to the fans of NYCFC for another entire year.

Our team is more than an IDEA. To quote Seinfeld: “They’re real and they’re spectacular.

  • Pelamelapija

    The Empire Supporters Club (“ESC”) is the oldest supporters club in Major League Soccer, founded before the league itself in early 1995 in anticipation of a new professional franchise in New York/New Jersey.

    not the first time someone’s rooted for an IDEA….

    • I wish I had come up with a better headline, as this wasn’t intended to mock the rooting for an IDEA part. I totally understand why NYCFC fans are getting excited. I just wanted to put it in the proper perspective for RBNY fans. Comparisons between the two teams are useless until they BOTH take the field.

  • Pelamelapija

    The comparisons will be inevitable until both are on the field. I get the point of your article. RB fans should hold their heads high and ignore the NKOTB rather than be goaded into unneccesary expressions of butthurt. Current regular season champs, beautiful stadium, etc. Should also remember their roots, spending 13 years playing on lined plastic, not a very different start from what NYCFC will encounter.

  • Dan

    What NYCFC fans have that New Jersey Red Bulls fans don’t…an ownership group that cares about its fans

    • Anonymous

      what Fans ?

    • rafael

      Since you want to be foolish enough to correlate where the stadium is located with the team’s name then I guess its the NJ Giants and NJ Jets too, huh? How about the Chester Union, Bridgeview Fire, Carson Galaxy and FC Frisco??

      If you really want me to, I can name a bunch of NBA, NFL and NHL teams that don’t play within the city limits for the city they play for??

  • gregj

    One big factor that no one mentions (or at least I haven’t seen it) is what a pain in the ass it is to get to RedBull stadium. Over the years, the Path train has only gotten worse, like the closing of the WTC Station on the weekends, or the lack of a Special line for games that avoid taking you to Hobboken. This alone will drive Redbull fans to switch. It’s a shame, but it’s true. Until RedBull can get the Path train to stop sabotaging them, they will lose more and more NYC based fans as NYCFC’s time gets closer.

    • DaveL

      I guess you haven’t been to a game in a while. There’s a huge, new PATH station being built there. Unfortunately, that’s the price of progress…..

      • However, the station will not be finished until 2017 or so. The only thing they have done so far is put the pilings for the temporary platforms.

        One of the main reasons I am going to less Red Bull games this year is because I was already sick and tired of taking the PATH and this year’s service disruption ultimately sunk that notion even further.

  • Steve

    The Metrostars “red bulls” didn’t have such a big fan base back in 95-97 and they got their own stadium 14 years after their MLS debut! And most of the fans come from Jersey, nothing wrong with that but us New Yorkers need our own team and now we finally got one! We have to start somewhere, and we’re starting out better than the Metrostars did.

    • DaveL

      Are these the same “us New Yorkers” that come to NJ to watch the Jets and Giants? At least Red Bull Arena is just a train away from Manhattan. Plus, because of the train link, it’s quite possible RB Arena will still be easier access for you NYers. Don’t forget that……

      • Steve

        I’m from queens and Harrison is not that easy to get to by car! Not everyone who supports or supported the red bulls use public transportation… And by the way I’m not a Jets or Giants fan

        • Did it for 15 years , it’s easy ….BQE to Williamsburg BR thru canal street ,to holland get on Pulaski and get of on the Harrison exit ….with no traffic 30min with traffic 2h ….commitment is part of being a fan/ supporter , **** when I was working in Cali I didn’t miss a home game either in 2008 .

          • There will always be a certain part of the fanbase that will not take traffic lightly. Time is important and an extra hour and a half in traffic could be used to do something else with family or friends.

  • Daniel

    As a NYCFC fan 2015 can’t come soon enough. Then Red Bull fans will have to stop with this whole “no identity” nonsense. Their team is named after an energy drink and they talk about identity…

  • Confused

    When RBNY was the only game in town, the line to soccer fans that didn’t follow MLS was, “Support your local team”. Next season, there are 2 local teams in MLS and the line to any that follow NYCFC is, “Support the first local team we had even if it’s less local than the new local team cuz otherwise you’re a glory hunter/traitor/not a real supporter/plastic fan”. it’s such a conundrum!

  • coach

    Wrong Redbull Fans- I am a season ticket holder and I can’t wait for NYCFC. I live in NJ. the Redbulls play in NJ. Yet they are called NY redbulls. . They can’t sell out a game. They tried Saturday afternoon, sunday afternoon, week nights. Nothing worked. The marketing of this team is poor. I love soccer, and I go to every game. , I also used to go the old Cosmos game. Sellout giant stadium.