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NYCFC v Philadelphia Union: A Possible Fan Union in A Shared Enemy

Guest Post by Luca Morganti

NYCFC fans have been traveling to our first three away matches in Orlando, Denver, and Philadelphia. As the Blues went away to Philadelphia, I wanted to look at the potential for an alliance between the Third Rail and the Union’s group, the Sons of Ben; birthed out of a shared hatred of the New York Red Bulls.

While New York and Philadelphia have historic rivalries, the fact that there are two New York teams per sport and teams in New Jersey (which is closer to Philadelphia than New York), makes the rivalries less clear-cut than just New York versus Philadelphia. We can find examples in all the “major sports.”

The Flyers-Islanders in hockey: while both were great teams in the 70s, there is a much deeper hatred from both teams for the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. Thus, they’re rivalry is diluted severely. In basketball, the 76ers and Nets (now of Brooklyn, néeNew Jersey) share a hatred of the New York Knicks, diluting their rivalry. In football, the New York (but really New Jersey) Giants and Philadelphia Eagles hate the Dallas Cowboys much more than one another. Everyone hates the Yankees, thus diluting the New York Mets and Phillies interdivisional baseball rivalry.

Furthermore, the Red Bulls play an hour outside of New York in New Jersey. I don’t know any New Yorkers who want to take a PATH train two hours round trip (plus the twenty minute walk to and from the stadium) to a place where the locals hate the team. Though the ground is beautiful, its by no means a local club.

Oh wow! What a surprise – the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are playing another four-hour epic regular season baseball game. So let’s blackout for our little brother’s Junior Championship League soccer team NYCFC, thought the broadcasting network, making it is impossible to watch NYCFC play away at the Philadelphia Union on television until 5 PM EST (when it begins around 4:07 EST) because YES, the Yankees Entertainment Station, owns the exclusive rights to this match in the Tristate Area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Unless you are me, where years of being poor and living abroad – sometimes at the same time – have allotted me a certain set of skills to find games online.

Just 30 minutes in and Philadelphia is kicking our ass, yet there is no bad blood on the field or between the fans. We’re playing like shit. It’s not Philadelphia’s fault. Per usual, thank you for our keeper Josh Saunders.  At halftime, the players clapping in front of Philadelphia Union supporters’ section “Sons of Ben” for their impact on the match. They are loud from start to finish. They are loyal. They should be. They created the club. And the Union haven’t done anything to mess with the fans like, oh I don’t know, buy a player and lend him to the feeder club without telling the fans that was happening. Whatever. We love NYCFC because they play in the Boogie Down Bronx.

A goal by Villa in the 55th minute ties it, and we can hear them. A 60th minute shout-out to the Third Rail’s strong turnout in Philadelphia ends with a concession that there will be the same from Sons of Ben in New York on Thursday. Call me an attentive psychic. The winning goal for Philadelphia came in stoppage time. NYCFC were superior in the last third of the match but lost after Josh Saunders slapped away a ball and then was knocked down.  An open net for Vincent Nogueira makes it 2-1 for the Union, their first win of the season.

The result of this match is the correct one. Some fans are complaining about the no-call, typical from a losing side from New York. It was fine by me, though I find myself to be very far on the side of logical when it comes to New York fandom. Saunders gave himself up to a player in position. The result shouldn’t create any malice between the two clubs or their fans, though I heard rumors that some Union fans weren’t letting Third Rail fans leave their section after the match. I haven’t found definitive proof. I hope this turns out to be untrue and that there is no retribution in New York when they play again on the 16th.

In a way, New Yorkers’ anger with the rebranding and moving of Red Bulls helped create NYCFC much like Sons of Bens’ frustration with a lack of a team created the Union. Supporters could unite over time in our shared hatred of Red Bulls. Let’s trade a few more blows with Red Bulls and Union before we start shaking hands. As of now, NYCFC and the Union still have 10 and 24 May marked on their respective calendars when they take on Red Bulls in New Jersey.

Follow Luca Morganti on Twitter @Morgantricity