Many players, coaches and front office members have come and gone through the doors of the New York Red Bull organization.
Most entered with high hopes. Many left feeling more could have been done.
All, however, share a common understanding of the difficulties and pressures of performing in this highly competitive and demanding New York market – especially with the unique burdens of the “cursed” Red Bull franchise hanging over their head.
Amongst those former Red Bulls are several current Cosmos luminaries. Head coach Giovanni Savarese was arguably the first true “club legend” with the Metrostars. Erik Stover served as President of the team, ushering in the Red Bull Arena era. Luke Sassano and current Cosmos captain Carlos Mendes played vital roles in the team’s 2008 MLS Cup run.
Each gave a nod to their former franchise for a job well done.
“Last year, we went through a situation with Sandy with New York and now New York has brought two championships to the city – two teams,” Savarese said. “It’s a good day for New York, especially on this day.”
Stover credits the leadership of Mike Petke for much of the turnaround at his former club, comparing his accomplishments to that of Cosmos coach Savarese.
“I am very happy for Mike (Petke),” Stover said. “Kudos to him.
“(Petke and Savarese) are both high-character guys. They have that in common. They are certainly different people. Both very gregarious and outgoing but knowing them the way I do, they are definitely very different. They came about success in different ways.”
Mendes and current Cosmos Assistant Technical Director Sassano played a major part in the Red Bulls last attempt at silverware. Both were fixtures in the Cinderella team of 2008 that fell in the MLS Cup Final to Guillermo Barros Schelotto and the Columbus Crew.
If anyone knows the highs and lows of the franchise first hand, it is them.
“In 2008, nobody really expected anything out of us,” Sassano tells EOS. “We really were in a win-win situation. We made the playoffs and tried to take each game day-by-day.
“We never looked at the curse, never felt anything hanging over our head.”
“That last Cup game didn’t go the way we wanted it to,” Mendes said with an acknowledging laugh. “It’s a good weekend for New York and the Metro area. It’s exciting. Any time you have teams winning, fans expect their teams to win … The fans of New York deserve it, expect competitions, and teams to win.”
The recognition of Red Bull history gives both an appreciation for the accomplishment their former team has achieved.
“They have a very strong team, the whole organization. It was strong when I was there and it is continuing to do well, and you have to give a testament to the players,” Sassano said. “They have done a great job for the organization this year.
“MLS is a long season so for them to win the Supporters’ Shield, it’s something they had in their mind as the season started but you have to tip your hat to them, I am happy for the whole franchise.”