This had to sit well in MLS offices, as the anticipated NYC FC-Red Bulls rivalry launched with a huge bang at Red Bull Arena, complete with imaginative taunts and first-rate trolling.
This is the first season for New York City FC in MLS, and laying claim to the New York City market didn’t sit to well with Red Bulls fans, who pretty much launched a NYC FC-Red Bulls rivalry the minute FC opened the doors as an expansion team.
And with NYC FC coming to Red Bull Arena for the first game in the NYC FC-Red Bulls rivalry, it was cause for Red Bulls fans to point out they were first in the market, and they don’t intend on letting it go. Prime trolling: this banner, pointing out FC’s ownership in a not-so-nice way:
— Graham Parker (@KidWeil) May 10, 2015
It was almost as if to be enthusiastic about the inaugural New York derby in MLS was to show the kind of gaucheness some of the NYCFC’s first wave of fans are sometimes accused of — to accept a plastic product. So until the stadium began to fill up, the chants began to fly and the trolling tifos unfurled, to sweep up everyone at Red Bull Arena into the atmosphere, there was a definite sense of “we’ll see” ambivalence about this game and what it represented, among long term watchers of the league.
But the occasion surpassed expectation. An impressive traveling NYCFC contingent turned part of one of the upper decks sky blue, while at the other end of the stadium a packed South Ward saw the Red Bulls’ supporters groups greeting their guests first with a display saying “THE BIG APPLE, RED TO THE CORE SINCE DAY ONE” and then with a large banner of Dopey (of seven dwarves fame) sporting a Man City Lite tunic, emblazoned with the legend, “20 years late and a stadium short.”
Ouch, and indeed ouch. Though in some ways NYC fans might have greeted the taunts with a degree of relief. The Red Bulls fans have proven a little picky about their rivalries over the years — refusing to entertain Philadelphia’s overtures as best of frenemies for example, and there was perhaps a little fear within league circles that they might want to snub the new MLS side in the area rather than seek to put them in their place.
To make it sweeter, New York Red Bulls were triumphant by a 2-1 margin before 25,217 fan.
Image courtesy New York City FC.