Playing Hardball: Union push Red Bulls into 4PM midweek USOC match


The New York Red Bulls will host their quarterfinal encounter against the Philadelphia Union on July 21st — but that move has come at a significant cost.

New York will host the match at the untenable hour of 4 p.m. on Tuesday — just four hours prior to an evening encounter pitting Paris Saint-Germain and AC Fiorentina in International Champions Cup action.

The reason for the strange date and time is simple: New York wanted to retain hosting rights to strengthen their Open Cup run — and the Philadelphia Union played hardball to rip it away.

According to several sources, the Red Bulls, whom are set to host Chelsea as part of the International Champions Cup on July 22nd, sought to change the date of their quarterfinal encounter to accommodate the ICC schedule. New York went through the proper channels to change the date as well, finding willing partners within USSF that supported the move.

Smelling opportunity, Union brass would not accommodate the Red Bulls’ wishes. Instead, the Union tried to pry home field away from New York in an attempt to aid their advancement in the Cup.

Faced with an unwilling partner, the Red Bulls chose to cram their stadium schedule instead of conceding home advantage, taking the hit and bringing the match to Red Bull Arena at the unsightly hour of 4 PM midweek.

According to a league source, had club rival DC United advanced, the date would have been changed. However, the Union, who have faced a difficult year both on and off the field, would not budge on the Red Bulls request, finding a clear chance to uplift their beaten down fan base with an unexpected Open Cup home match.

Central in this struggle for home field advantage is the Red Bulls role in the ICC. Several fans have called out the club for their involvement, particularly knowing that U.S. Open Cup matches could directly effect the team’s schedule in the midsummer months.

For their part, the Red Bulls have long stated their desire to increase revenue through their soccer specific stadium. With several regular season matches drawing poorly, opportunities to host world renown clubs like Chelsea, PSG, Benfica and Fiorentina are gold mines for the club’s income, which may directly impact the team’s overall spending. Outside of increased attendance and season ticket numbers, these outside events are the best opportunity for Red Bull to turn a dollar and, eventually, increase their operational budget on the club level — a budget that has taken a steep cut in recent years.

One source said this is “not what the Red Bulls would have wanted to do,” labeling the Union as a “bad partner” in this entire affair. For better or worse, New York chose home field and a crowded schedule over a road match. That gamble is meant to strengthen their Open Cup run.

Whether it does remains to be seen.

Tickets are available to both the U.S. Open Cup matchup vs. Philadelphia and the ICC match between PSG and ACF Fiorentina. Visit for ticket information beginning at 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 9 for the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal. PSG and ACF Fiorentina tickets are available now.

New York Red Bulls season ticket holders will receive their same seat locations for the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal vs. Philadelphia.

  • Metrored

    The blame falls 100% on Red Bull.

    Why would the Union move a match when they, themselves, have a friendly the prior week? Makes no sense.

    And it’s laughable to assume these friendlies are going to be reinvested in the team. Even more laughable Dave is spinning it that way.

    • Just reporting what I have come to learn pal. Nothing more.

      • Yolo

        This article is so clearly biased and it is as obvious as daylight.

      • Metrored

        That came off as overly harsh, apologies on that.

        But that seems like a very, very weak argument when you consider Red Bull’s global resources. Penny pinching in NY while throwing truck loads of cash at other ventures.

    • Gruff and Manly Bob

      it’s laughable that your bias has clouded you to not even see the facts. RB Corp has been pounding RBNY on the fact there op budget is so high for so few events compared to other stadiums in the portfolio. That’s reasonable.

      Dave report this and you try to disparage him? #RedBullStout

  • JG

    Solution…MLS should switch to the FIFA schedule like the rest of the world (minus Japan and Australia, I think). Especially with more and more US National Team players in the league it’s time to make the change.

    • John

      Would the FIFA schedule mean playing games in December, January , February in the north east and the midwest? that would be terrible since its too cold and attendance would be awful, with many games being canceled.

      • JG

        John – absolutely right…solution to is do what Germany, Austria and a few other countries do and take a mid-season winter break. This is also the time when they open the transfer window.

        The biggest issue with it, and why I think MLS wont do it is the marketing competition with other sports going on at that time. Football, Hockey, Basketball etc.

    • Jspech

      You get dumb idea of the day award. See the donkey/ in the corner for your prize. All of this is so dis heartening. Reality, USOC means something to the fans & nothing to MLS & most of it’s clubs.

      • JG

        How is that a dumb idea?

        • Johnny Feelgood

          Because going against the NFL would kill us if the snow and cold doesn’t first.

          • slowleftarm

            We already play the most important part of the MLS season against the NFL. There’s always some other sport going on. But MLS going to the “FIFA” schedule is ridiculous because it’s too cold in large parts of the country for it. Crowds at RBA are horrendous as is in March, imagine playing in February or earlier?

            The Bundeslida takes a one month break. Here you would need three and I’m not sure that’s workable in the middle of the season. You would basically be playing the same months you are now only the season would end in May/June.

    • Gruff and Manly Bob

      Even Germany is thinking of switching to a schedule more like MLS….but that’s ok just keep thinking this league will do well in crap weather.

  • Good insight. more motivation to down the Union

  • Tim

    I’m all for taking a side in reporting news but the complete lack of acknowledgement that the Union schedule a friendly during the time that the Red Bull were trying to reschedule is irresponsible at worst and lazy journalism at best.

    The Union followed the US Open request for scheduling and Red Bulls didn’t. Union are not at fault for wanting to keep their addition source of revenue at the soccer-centric stadium, possibly needing the added revenue even more than NYRB.

  • Metrored

    All about the narrative, Dave? No acknowledgement of the Union friendly?

    • Couldn’t get confirm that Union friendly factored in, but did ask league sources about it.

      • Trifling Street Hot Dog Vendor

        Laughable. If you were spinning any faster, you’d go backwards in time.

  • Andrew Bissonette

    This sucks that we’re not going to be able to put out a good team for the Chelsea game after this. However, I bet there will be a very solid crowd if it gets played as a double header. They should allow fans who bought tickets to the Fiorentina-PSG game to attend the RBNY game beforehand.

  • Wow

    Absolute garbage of an “article.”

  • Cosmologist

    I’d take the USOC action over a contrived, meaningle$$ friendly any day, and I don’t give a **** which teams are in said friendly.

  • fainez

    This is a **** article. disgraceful.

  • OpenCupFan

    Stop me if you’ve heard this before –

    • slowleftarm

      We’ve heard everything you’ve had to say before.

  • WTF?

    How could Philly or Dave be the bad guys here? Dave is simply reporting facts (incl comments about at Philly being “unwilling”) but the fact IS that Philly is unwilling to cooperate. BUT that doesn’t make Philly the bad guy. Why should Philly bend over for NYRB arrogance?

    NYRB f’ed up by not having the foresight with their scheduling. This potential problem was recognized as soon as the USOC sched came out months ago. I recall people questioning, on this website, what NYRB will do if it they reach the QFs. Maybe NYRB really didn’t expect to go this far. It’s not Philly’s fault that RBA over-scheduled or had lack of foresight. NYRB claims they’re all in for the USOC, but clearly put a meaningless cash-cow friendly ahead of a run at the USOC.

    NYRB is like the kid who waited to the last minute to turn in homework then complained that the teacher is unfair. This shows that NYRB has less of an overall plan than they claim to have. Or maybe Curtis misplaced the plan that was written on page 301?

    It was already announced that the Cosmos would have lost HFA if the same happened to them (maybe you could have mentioned that in the article Dave?). Why should NYRB expect an advantage that the Cosmos were not given.

    Kudos to Philly to holding their ground. In a down season, the USOC is obviously more important to Philly by playing hardball. Why should the Union give up the advantage created by NYRB’s poor planning?

    We just saw MLS accommodate Montreal for CCL scheduling. Why the hell can’t the ICC (much less important than the CCL) accommodate NYRB? Maybe the ICC should be looked at for not being flexible.

    There’s obviously time available at RBA (see: Baby Bulls leave Columbia)

    Kudos to Dave for getting this info out there asap. Some of you haters got to ease up. Philly ain’t the bad guy. Dave ain’t the bad guy (damn, he actually PROVIDES this forum!). Put down the Kool-Aid for a second a realized your precious NYRB current regime f’ed this up.

  • Very good response. I don’t always agree with dave’s styling but here I actually thought it was well written and objective….finally. Not that Dave needs my kudos, I know, but seriously why is he to blame here. Myopic and/ or naive RB is once again to blame quite clearly.

  • Why 4pm?

    Because NYRB gave ICC’s Paris Saint-Germain v ACF Fiorentina game 7/21 at 8:30pm.

    So if the USOC QFs were announced for July 21 & July 22 a long time ago, why the f would NYRB give the ICC Red Bull Arena on the same two friggin days??? Dumb-asses.

    Abdul, myopic and naïve are perfect descriptors. I would add in a touch of arrogance.

  • Now who is playing hardball?

    Grab ankles and bend over Red Bull fans. The NYRBs have announced that if you plan to support the NYRBs prior to the ICC game, you have to buy two separate tickets at full price.

    Face it, with only 12 days from the announcement of the USOC game and the game itself, the attendance will be putrid. Why not offer a discount of some sort to ticket holders of the ICC game?? That way they can attract new potential fans (there just to see PSG/Fiorentina) to see a NYRB game that supposedly to NYRB is “VERY IMPORTANT”.

    But no, if you have an ICC ticket ($75-$425) and want to catch the double header, you have to buy a second USOC ticket (not a problem) but pay full price for the USOC game (idiotic).

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  • Andy

    Given that the arena wasn’t available either of the two days, why did the Open Cup even allow the New Jersey Pink Cows to be eligible to host this round?

    Dave may have just been reporting facts, but to not mention that the Union have a friendly of their own the week before is just irresponsible journalism.

    Here’s hoping for a lightning delay at the Open Cup game followed by overtime and penalty kicks to delay the 8:30 game.

    • Because

      it was done by a random draw. It just turned out that the NYRB’s card was picked as the #1 seed and got HFA throughout. But with that said, NYRBs knew the QFs were July 21-22 BEFORE they agreed to the ICC schedule. Which goes to show that they never really believed they’d get to the QFs. It’s either that, or that they are f’ing idiots who can’t read a calendar.

      • Andy

        It wasn’t a complete random draw. Teams had the option of opting out of hosting any of the rounds. Clearly that’s what they should have done given that the stadium was already in use both days that it was scheduled for.

        • Anonymous

          No teams opted out. I watched the draw live. One guy shuffled the cards of all 16 teams, the other guy picked the cards. Looked like the definition of random.

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