NY fans - Red Bulls and NYCFC - 4 split

Editor's Note

With this year's first edition of Heineken Rivalry Week upon us, it's time to once again take a look at the eternal question. What made you red or blue?
—Ben Baer, New Media Editor (June 20, 2017)

Original Text — July 19, 2016

Is New York red or blue? That's the bragging right at stake in MLS' only current intra-city rivalry, between the long-standing New York Red Bulls, and the newer comers, NYCFC.

NYCFC will have the opportunity to get revenge from last week's U.S. Open Cup loss, when the teams meet on Saturday at Red Bull Arena (1:30 pm ET; FOX and FOX Deportes in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada).

The patchwork of supporters for each team represent a spectrum of people as diverse as the metro area itself. So what brought fans to each team, and what does their choice – and the rivalry – mean to them? We traveled across the area to hear from a selection of Red Bulls and NYCFC fans to hear what they had to say.

Ravi, Pardeep, and Navdeep Cattry

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Photo by Erin Glover

Lawyer, student, and student – Valley Stream, NY

"Our dad doesn’t actually relate all the time with three girls, so the way we bond with him is actually through soccer. Now we can sit down and actually watch something together. The Red Bulls are our brothers because we don’t have any."

Patrick Rivera and Tirzah Gonzalez

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Photo by Juice Groove Films

Engaged and married at NYCFC matches – Weehawken, NJ

"I tried to support local soccer around here but I didn’t really feel it. When NYCFC came about, I thought, this was something I could get with. It was the fact that they were representing New York City, where I was born, and the city that provided my family so many opportunities when they came here from Puerto Rico.

The two of us went to the Chicago Fire game last season here at home, and I kind of had this idea in the back of my head. I figured, why not let me ask her to marry me in Yankee Stadium? So at halftime I got down on one knee. Thankfully she said yes.

One day she had this idea that we should get married outside the stadium before the 2016 home opener. So she orchestrated the whole thing, and all the supporters' groups were with us on it. Even the NYPD closed down the street for us."

Alex Rosamilia

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Photo by Erin Glover

Musician, the Gaslight Anthem and Brian Fallon and the Crowes – Jersey City, NJ

"It means a lot to be a Red Bulls fan because I’ve been a MetroStars fan from the beginning, and a soccer fan from a very early age. I remember going to a soccer camp, and the MetroStars were practicing near to where we were, and I got in trouble for watching them and not doing what we were supposed to be doing. I had a team from England and from Germany, and to have a team from where I’m from is pretty cool."

Mike FitzGerald

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Photo by George Ivanoff

Lifelong soccer player featured on Humans of New York – New York, NY

"I was born and raised in New York, in the Bronx, not far from Yankee Stadium. I played soccer pretty much my entire life, and I'm 49 right now. I've played in pretty much every league there is to play in and around in New York.

I started out as a MetroStars fan when they were the only game in town, and later, I was excited to hear there was another New York team coming. I'm also a big Yankees fan, so I got excited that NYCFC were playing there, and I went to their opening game there. NYCFC brings that gritty rivalry, like, 'Come get us or we're gonna get you.'"

Jamison Harvey

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Photo by Erin Glover

Better known as DJ Prestige – Jersey City, NJ

"When I got into following the New York Red Bulls, I was accepted in as a family member. I think it's like a normal family—you have to endure a lot of pain and suffering, but you do it because you love the team. One thing all New York Red Bulls supporters have in common is patience.

The rivalry with NYCFC to me means a lot. If we lost every single game, but we beat NYCFC both times, I'd be happy."

Rachel Mintz

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Photo by Juice Groove Films

Founder of City Celestes, a women's fan network for NYCFC – New York, NY

"I love the people in my supporters' group, NYC 12. We hang out before, during, after the games, and we've traveled together. We're very involved in the sport and do a lot of community service work. It's not just a drinking, screaming during the game kind of group. It's deeper."

Blacka Di Danca

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Photo by Collin Kornfeind

Dancehall choreographer – New York, NY

"A New York Red Bulls fan is someone who's very passionate—someone who loves New York and the idea of freedom and the idea of New York being a melting pot.

I discovered the Red Bulls by being invited to a game by a friend. I went, and it was so dope. The stadium is beautiful, the opening ceremony is beautiful, and the intensity of the fans makes you love the idea of being a New Yorker."  

That's important—the community and the gathering feeling. It's just really being around so many people who love one thing, with one purpose, one energy."

James Coker

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Photo by Collin Kornfeind

Actor and comedian – New York, NY

"I think I'm a NYCFC fan over a Red Bulls fan because they're in New York City—in one of the five boroughs. I'm a founding member of NYCFC, and the atmosphere at Yankee Stadium is incredible. There have been a lot of ups and downs in the team's short history, but the fans never waver.

I've been to a lot of Red Bulls matches at Red Bull Arena and I think the fans are a little jaded, and also a little spoiled. I think NYCFC fans are loyal no matter what because it's a new team and they know it's a long process to build a winning franchise."

Jack Keane

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Photo by Juice Groove Films

Director of football at the Football Factory at Legends bar – New York, NY

"I became a Red Bulls fan because I lived in New Jersey for 15 or 16 years. In the old days it was mostly expats watching the game—but now everybody is watching. The Red Bulls, and Empire Supporters Club, have really been the torch-bearers. Football Factory is the home of ESC and it's 100 percent red.

Red Bulls have stolen the march of 18 years on NYCFC and that can never be changed. The team represents the beginning of MLS—the MetroStars were there from the very start. Eventually NYCFC will get a stadium but for now, who are ya?"

Mick Mellamphy

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Photo by Juice Groove Films

Owner, Ryan's Daughter bar – New York, NY

"I'm originally from County Cork in Ireland and am a proud New York City resident. When NYCFC was announced, it was something I wanted to be part of—soccer has always been a huge part of my life.

I don't believe in religion, but I do believe in soccer; it brings the world together. When they announced this club in the greatest city in the world, I wanted to be a part of it. My business partner and I threw ourselves into it, and all supporters are welcome here."

Vance and Vince Moss

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Photo by Erin Glover

Heart surgeons – New York, NY

Vince: "We're both former combat surgeons. We've had the honor of serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. One thing that was significant is that there were a number of MLS fans deployed with us and we'd watch the games and enjoy the excitement.

We enjoyed the esprit de corps in that experience. And then when you come to a Red Bulls game and you see how you're able to overcome adversity, and their ability to bring things together and not panic, it reminds us of the experiences we had overseas."

Vance: "We're transformed into something else or somebody else—another body, when we talk into that stadium. We don't care about what the opponents think of us; we don't care what other fans think of us. We're just completely focused on rooting on our team because there's no second place for victory."

Morgan Resta-Flarer

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Photo by George Ivanoff

Season ticket-holder for both the Red Bulls and NYCFC – New York, NY

"I started following MLS when it first started; my family had MetroStars tickets the first three years they existed. I fell off a little bit after that when I went to college. I got back into it with a group of friends, the second year Red Bull Arena was open, and we've been going every year since.

But then I got NYCFC season tickets as soon as they announced the team. It was really important for me to get those tickets. I care about MLS as a league, and that's why I have tickets to both teams still to this day. I want to support the teams in New York.

I know there's a contradiction there—I had a really hard time in the beginning deciding if I would be a fan of both teams. I still, even to this day, struggle to know, if and when they play each other, who I root for and who I want to see ultimately succeed."

Omari McCleary

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Photo by Juice Groove Films

Youth worker, "NYCFC Pigeon" – New York, NY

"I didn't know that much about the Red Bulls before because they just weren't here in the city. There's only one team in New York.

I got my supporters' group involved in the after-school program in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn where I work, so they donated shin guards, jerseys—they come with the drums and support the kids, and there's a mentorship component. The kids all know that we're part of NYCFC."

Gladis Argueta

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Photo by Erin Glover

Nurse, capo with Viking Army – Bergen, NJ

"My first game at Red Bull Arena, hearing the supporters chant, it was life-changing. I became a part of Viking Army—they're a big family.

We have lawyers, we have nurses, we have people who work on airplanes, we have people who work in banks, people who do all sorts of things. By day I'm a nurse, with a typical day job and stress. At night, during games, I capo with the Viking Army and I let all my stress out. I'm there for the team. We come together in Section 102 and we are one. We chant as one."