Opinion Piece: Much Progress Needed in the Battle of the Football Corporations
Across two states, two rivers and boroughs of New York City, “crosstown rivals” NYCFC and Red Bulls faced off in their sixth ever derby. Excitement over the thrice-annual derby has already quelled due to its one-sidedness, not helped by a (7-0) Red Bulls victory earlier this year. With the latest NYCFC (2-0) win (their first in a derby), this served as the season’s rubber match.
I wasn’t thrilled to make a four-hour journey to see a 90-minute match on a sweltering afternoon that would see several "water breaks". Approaching the ground on mass transit is depressing. It’s surrounded by a swamp, train tracks, and rundown buildings made worse by a beverage corporation’s desire to own clubs branding them . What’s worse: Harrison, NJ residents can’t afford entry. Honestly, the same might be said of NYCFC playing in the South Bronx, the poorest neighborhood in the USA, in the stadium of world’s richest franchise, the Yankees, but NYCFC ticket prices are almost half. The crowd was EMBARRASSING. The Red Bulls claimed a sell-out when it was really a half-filled arena with equal part away fans for a derby between first and third place.
The Red Bulls claim to be the original New York team. Well, we from across the river have our share of awful sports teams. We’re suffering through a five-year trophy drought across all major sports. Two of our teams haven’t won in a generation; four teams have eight combined wins in their existences. It’s usually not great to be a New York sports fan, but we always show up. Red Bull “fans” (or corporate sponsors) buy tickets and don’t.
I know one Red Bulls fan – and by “know,” I mean we went to high school together, didn’t speak much there, and haven’t exchanged a word since graduating over a decade ago. So what I mean is I know zero Red Bull fans, and I didn’t find many at the match. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in America – and it’s just a river (or two) away from the largest city. There aren’t 25,000 fans who’d make a trek to see “crosstown rivals?” Apparently not.
This embodies what we hate most about Red Bulls: their fakeness and callousness as an organization and fanbase. Red Bull Arena was supposed to bring jobs and growth to Harrison, New Jersey. Instead, it’s lead to a rise in crime and debt. Seriously. Oh, and their fans sometimes dress like this:
Apparently the only focus of the franchise is to crush NYCFC, shown by another awkward Red Bulls tifo and the team’s behavior on the pitch. Like anything from New Jersey, sore-winning follows. In the 85th minute, Frank Lampard awkwardly fouled and fell over long-tenured Red Bullshit player Sacha Kljestan. Sacha ran up and repeatedly signed “4-1” with his hands in Lampard’s face as a few teammates pushed Frank. It’s a regular season MLS match, but please share your thoughts with Frank Lampard on football.
The locals’ problems with Red Bulls, why NYCFC even exists, are summed up by their disingenuous existence. Red Bulls would have a full house if they owned where they’re from, New Jersey, as were the MetroStars. The New York Islanders moved from Long Island to Brooklyn last year, and their attendance suffered dramatically. The franchise is already seeking a new arena in deep Queens, closer to their fanbase. The Yankees sought to move to Manhattan but then realized they are called “The Bronx Bombers,” so the franchise built a new stadium across the street from the old one and stayed put.
If the Red Bulls took a page from that book and focused on their own franchise, they’d have a full house of screaming fans from New Jersey. Until then, half the derby in New Jersey will be Blue, just like New York. But this is just my humble opinion...