HOBOKEN, N.J. – It's fitting that on the same day Jason Kreis officially joined New York City FC as their first head coach, New York Red Bulls sporting director jested about the impending arrival of the “noisy neighbors.”
Sitting with reporters for an end-of-the-year roundtable discussion on Tuesday, Andy Roxburgh was asked if the Red Bulls feel any added pressure to do well in 2014 given that NYCFC will enter the league and grab some of the local and national spotlight the following year.
Roxburgh responded with a long-winded answer that essentially meant no and added that he thinks the arrival of New York City FC, who are owned by Manchester City and the New York Yankees, will be a positive for the Red Bulls.
“As a technical person, I think it’s fantastic,” said Roxburgh, the 70-year-old Scotsman who is entering his second full season with the Red Bulls. “As someone who was brought up in the background of Rangers-Celtic, Everton-Liverpool, Man. United-Man. City, Arsenal-Tottenham, that’s almost like the jewel in the crown in soccer. It’s one of the things that to me you don’t really have that in this country. You could call Chivas [USA] against LA [Galaxy], but not really.
“I think we could create here the first real rivalry, hometown rivalry, and I see it as a fantastic opportunity, not as a pressure. I think we could be good for each other and I hope the MLS will make the opening match of 2015 the derby, at Red Bull [Arena], of course.”
Roxburgh not once referenced New York City FC by their name, preferring instead to be tongue in cheek by labeling them as the noisy neighbors. He also smilingly dropped the old Scottish adage, “We apologize to you in advance for the margin of your defeat,” before taking a more serious tone as to what the Red Bulls will have that NYCFC won’t once 2015 rolls around: History.
“We’ve got one enormous advantage. We’ve got history that they don’t have and you can’t buy history,” said Roxburgh. “It takes time to build that, you can’t buy it. You can’t just walk into history. They’ll have to develop that. We’ve been here, we’ve got our stadium, we’ve got our training ground, we’ve won a league and so there’s a history now and we build on that history.”
Roxburgh was not all about throwing playful jabs at his soon-to-be crosstown rivals. He also spoke kindly of NYCFC director of operations Claudio Reyna and reiterated that that organization’s arrival will serve as mostly a benefit to the Red Bulls.
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“We’re friendly, you know,” said Roxburgh. “Claudio Reyna, I met at a lunch last Wednesday, he’s a great guy, and so it will be a friendly rivalry but it will be intense when it comes to playing and that’s great. I think that’s fantastic.
“From a soccer point and in terms of other things, well that’s just a challenge. It’s a challenge to compete, whether it’s signing players, whether it’s the promotion of the games, etc.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.