HANOVER, N.J. – Major League Soccer’s latest attempt at banishing the “YSA” chant has fans all across the league torn on the matter, and the same holds true for players and coaches on the New York Red Bulls.
Days after the Red Bulls informed their fans that they would be rewarded with financial compensation for games in which they do not use the controversial chant, New York players and head coach Mike Petke touched on the hot topic and seemed equally as divided on the matter.
“I know the fans, not only the supporters from our team but around the league, and I know they are very passionate,” Petke said on Thursday. “On one side of it, I say if my five- and eight-year-olds are coming home and saying YSA to me all day long, I’d be pretty upset and I’d obviously know where it came from.
“Having said that, I love our supporters so of course maybe as a father I would not want to hear that, but as a guy on the field, whatever they yell, I respect and I’m supporting.”
Designated Player Tim Cahill echoed the sentiments of his head coach, saying that as a professional player and father himself, he understands MLS’ reasoning behind wanting to eliminate YSA. But he also believes that the chant is tame when compared to others that are shouted in stadiums around the world.
“There are kids in the crowd and there’s people watching and we want to have a great brand in the MLS and we want to respect our code,” said Cahill. “I support what they’re doing because we’ve all got children and you don’t want to go home and listen to your children say things like that.
“But on the other case, I’ve played in some intimidating circumstances and here it’s quite mild compared to some of the stages that I’ve played on and some of the things that’s been said or heard off the football pitch. For us as professionals, I don’t hear nothing regardless because I focus on the game. But as for the fans, all I can say is, for the amount of miles they put in on the road and for the team, I can’t complain about that because they’ve been exceptional.”
One Red Bulls player who admitted he would prefer to see the YSA chant go extinct was Thierry Henry. The Red Bulls captain and star striker, who like Cahill and Petke is a father, said abolishing it would allow players to avoid being distracted during matches.
“This is good. It’s good,” said Henry. “Throughout my career, sometimes you hear some stuff in the stands that you don’t want to hear. It’s part of the game, but it’s always better when you don’t hear anything. You can concentrate on your game and make sure you don’t lose your mind.
“Having said that, you don’t see a lot of players losing their mind over it but it’s always better if you can play the game right way and not having to deal with some stuff in the stands. I would like to think our fans are great at it, so I think it’s only fair to reward them.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.