Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Big Apple Derby Day (We Want the Cup!)

Could This Be Us, Finally?
Derby Day has finally arrived for New York soccer fans.  For years, we’ve been hearing how a second pro soccer team would miraculously lift the profile of the sport in the Big Apple.  Tonight, the third round of the US Open Cup will put that logic to the test, as the Red Bulls host FC New York of the USL PRO League. Who? That’s right, none other than the self-proclaimed “Bull Slayers” who announced that “soccer is back in New York” on April 1, 2009. 
Missing the irony of the day, all the local naysayers who criticized our club since its inception and/or its Metromorphosis jumped aboard their Ship of Fools. Many have since – surprise, surprise – jumped ship.  FCNY’s rivalry rhetoric may have excited a few boys but they quickly alienated them with confusion over location. Neither Harrison nor Hofstra are New York enough for some, apparently, but with the team settled for this season at Belson Stadium on the campus of St. John’s in Queens, you would think those calling for a team to play within the five boroughs would be satisfied. But the NY2 movement quickly morphed into the Kemsmos fan club, more focused on fantasy than the team so desperate to represent them.  The final straw, apparently, a Kemsmos stickering of St. Johns, resulting in a Boys ban at Belson. 
So they have their excuses in place tonight for a dismal show of support. A derby in little more than name, there’s still a lot at stake. One of the beauties of Cup play, of course, is the opportunity to show that even if you’re not in the same league, you can still play the game. So while our opposition have been guilty of hubris before ever playing a game, we can’t afford such folly on the pitch tonight. A decisive win is essential. 
After the tough draw at Chicago just two days ago and the shocker of DeRo to DC just yesterday, the Bulls need to sharpen their horns and go for the kill. Too much to expect the tired legs of Henry or Richards to compete tonight, but Agudelo and Ream should welcome the chance to get back to club duty and join a squad comprised mostly of reserves. Are our reserves better than a USL PRO side with a 3-5-5 league record, who played their last Open Cup match in training bibs? They had better be!   
We cannot allow another David v Goliath story tonight. Last year, we suffered the embarrassment of a third round exit to Harrisburg, adding to a long string of Open Cup failures to lower level opposition. The 2005 loss at Rochester may have been the final straw for the Bradley era. For those of us who have yet to recover from the sight of Chicago celebrating the Open Cup title on the Meadowlands midfield on October 15, 2003, tonight’s match means much more than local bragging rights. This is about making our mark in history. The NY Giants left the American Soccer League in 1928 over their desire to win the Open Cup, the oldest ongoing competition in US soccer. The Open Cup matters. Arguably more important than the Supporters Shield, Red Bulls supporters need to show the squad how much this means to us tonight. A win puts us one step closer to a national title. A loss exposes us to local shame. It’s more than just a game. 

blog comments powered by Disqus