You can count the New York Red Bulls among those behind Major League Soccer's decision to add a second team in the Big Apple.
Hours after MLS announced that New York City FC would become its 20th team in 2015, the Red Bulls released a statement backing the decision of the league. General manager Jérôme de Bontin (above), who initially criticized MLS’ desire to expand into New York proper, said he was behind the league’s plan and so, too, was the rest of the Red Bulls organization.
“We are supportive of MLS expansion, as it illustrates the growing interest of soccer in North America,” de Bontin said in the statement. “We also want to congratulate MLS and the league’s new ownership group, which is injecting additional resources to help develop our sport across the country. Today’s announcement is one of many steps in the exciting and challenging process of building a competitive MLS club.
“Our club’s energy is focused on winning a championship for the league’s most loyal and passionate fans, many of whom have steadfastly backed this organization and MLS since its inception, and come from all over the Tri-State area,” continued de Bontin. “We are committed to continue to build an organization that is the flagship club for Major League Soccer around the world and a club that soccer fans across the region can be proud to support.”
Those words should be music to MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who stated during a Tuesday conference call that the idea of having a second New York team originated from when the league began in 1996 and that the addition of New York City FC should create an instant rivalry that will be beneficial to all.
“It was always a goal, if you look at the original plan, to have two teams in New York,” said Garber. “We’ve worked on and off on this project for the last 18 years. It was part of the original configuration, it was certainly something that the Red Bulls were very aware of when they purchased the MetroStars from AEG.
“We will work very closely with Jerome and the rest of his club to have this rivalry be something that has enormous value to what we’re all trying to achieve in this market, which is more interest, more popularity, more fans and more excitement.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.