UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Let the fun in New York begin.
A day after MLS announced that New York City FC would join the league as an expansion team in 2015, New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke fired the first shots of this budding rivalry in the Big Apple. Petke said he was happy to have a “true rival” and that it was “good for the league” – but his praise ended there.
“On the flipside of that, we have a history here,” said Petke after practice on Wednesday. “They’re the new guys coming in and I’m looking forward to smashing them in 2015, to be honest with you.
“That’s it. I don’t have any love for [them] because it’s a new team in the league, I love this league, and I think expansion is a [good] thing but now that they have come where we are we’ll welcome them, hopefully, with a smashing.”
Petke’s comments have a vastly different tone to those released in a statement on Tuesday by Red Bulls general manager Jerome de Bontin, and maybe with good reason. You see, Petke is already feeling the implications of the impending rivalry because of the Manchester City-New York Yankees ownership group that is backing NYCFC.
“I was, I was. All my life,” said Petke when asked if he was a Yankees fan. “Now it’s going to be interesting. I don’t know if I can root for them.”
The implications of NYCFC’s arrival may not be hitting as close to home for others just yet, but the general consensus out of Red Bulls camp on Wednesday still seemed to indicate that MLS has already given birth to its newest bitter rivalry.
“I don’t know too much about it, don’t know too much about all their plans or what they’re doing but I think it’s great for the league,” said midfielder Dax McCarty, who has previously lived in New Jersey but now resides in New York. “I think the northeast has really, really strong rivalries that run deep. Us and D.C. United, us and New England, us and Philly and everyone else interconnected in there.
“Adding another team up here is great for the league and hopefully it will be the start of a great rivalry and we just hope to be able to stay on top of it.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.