RBNY Optimist: A Red Bulls Love Letter (And The Long Awaited Reveal)

RBNY Optimist

Dear New York Red Bulls,

We’ve been seeing each other for a long time now and I think you should know how our relationship ended up here.

You may not know that I played soccer as a kid on Long Island in what must have been one of the first rec leagues at the time. Unfortunately, I was never a good enough athlete to even try out for a school team. But spending that time out on the field, watching the NY Cosmos, and catching the occasional “Soccer Made in Germany” episode on Channel 13 planted a seed of passion somewhere deep inside of me that apparently never left.

When my daughter, who was entering 3rd grade at the time, told me she wanted to try to play soccer because all her friends were on an AYSO team, all those deep rooted memories of the beautiful game came rushing back to me, and I signed her right up. That’s when I really started paying attention to you.

I went to a few games that year, 2003, at The Swamp with my family. I can still remember the t-shirts we bought. The two Eddies: Pope for my daughter (she was a defender after all) and Gavin for my son, a tiny four year old at the time. I bought a gray MetroStars tee-shirt, still neatly folded in my closet to this day.

Years passed and you and I grew closer and closer. I took in a few games in person over those next few years, and I decided to jump in as a season ticket holder in 2009. Looking back, I guess my timing was pretty bad. But it didn’t matter to me. I was all in with you from then start. You had me at Juan Pablo Angel.

I’m pretty sure that was also the year that I got Coach Petke’s (MIKE PETKE!!!) autograph in the bubble next to Giants Stadium. I told him I was the one that sent him a message on Twitter a few days before and he sincerely seemed to remember me. I left impressed, and that’s when I first fell in love with a team that seemed so accessible, so approachable and the exact opposite of what other professional sports had become.

I’ve been a season ticket holder ever since, witnessing semi-highs (I was at the Emirates Cup), as well as undeniable lows (I was at W Connection, too).

And it was two years ago, that I first BECAME “The Optimist.” After a pre-season where the team was shut out in half it’s pre-season matches, they started the season with back to back losses to Dallas and RSL. This is when the fan base was in such a negative, “That’s So Metro,” mode that it felt like a bold move to be positive about the team. In a fit of contrarianism, I decided to be (what felt like) the lone positive voice in defense of the team.

I think the first two responses I got on Twitter were “Shut Up.” and “Is this guy trolling us?” But I stuck to it, and somehow found some kindred spirits, who, no doubt, love you just as much as I. I somehow got mentioned on Seeing Red NY (“Wow, I’m RBNY-Famous”) and tried to stay positive no matter how much crap Twitter spewed.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt that the folks I used to call “Negative Nellies” and “Mr. Grumpy Gills” love you just as much as I. I know this to be true because we were all there on Sunday. All of us, including my son — long grown out of that Eddie Gavin T-shirt — cheering, shoulder to shoulder, for our heroes.

I love you, RBNY, and whether we choose to call you Metro or Red Bull (“since 1996”?), I’m sure you noticed that something changed Sunday. The letdown that many thought would come never materialized. You’ve changed, New York Red Bulls, and so have your fans.

Where it used to look like you would fold, you now dig in harder. Where you used to look like a collection of individuals, you now look like a TEAM. Where there was despair throughout Red Bull Arena, there is now hope. Your fans believe. There is no curse. And “That’s So Metro” doesn’t necessarily ALWAYS mean the worst possible outcome has just happened.

Over the last two years, the simple act of being positive set me apart from what felt like the majority of your fan base. But I can’t say that anymore because of the team you have become. You’ve restored hope. You’ve validated optimism. With one triumphant soccer match, you’ve changed me from a contrarian to just another fan.

That’s exactly what I’ve wanted to be all along, and for that, I thank you.

Now, about that Cup…


Steve Hoffman
aka The Red Bull Optimist

  • Buzz

    Boo, Red Bull Optimist, boo.

  • Gruff and Manly Bob

    Soccer Made in Germany ! Someone remembers ! I think I shed a tear reading this article. hehe

  • Dave from Dix Hills

    You will be missed soccer head! This is the end right?

  • ThierryHenryNOT

    I don’t know what to say. I really believed that you were a talking/tweeting soccer ball. Thanks for the memories @RBNYOptimist.