He was born on Long Island, played college soccer in Queens and now lives in Manhattan.
Chris Wingert is the consummate New Yorker.
The New York City FC defender has seen how his city has reacted in other intra-city showdowns, like the Subway Series games between the Mets and Yankees and the always intense on-ice clashes between the Rangers, Islanders and Devils.
“I’m a massive sports fan and I love a great rivalry in other sports. That’s what gets the fans into it and creates a great atmosphere and a lot of great, important, significant wins for both teams,” Wingert said. “If we can create something like that it would be really special for not only those of us involved, but also for the growth of our league.”
Now Wingert will get his first taste of the Tri-State area’s newest sports rivalry when NYCFC heads to Harrison to take on the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena Sunday night (7 pm ET, Fox Sports 1, FOX Deportes in US, TSN2 in Canada).
“You can definitely feel a bit of a buzz and I’m sure it will be an incredible atmosphere Sunday at Red Bull Arena,” he said.
Stepping onto the field at RBA will also be a first for Wingert.
“I have yet to play in Red Bull Arena. I was hurt at least once, maybe twice and I was suspended another time,” said the former Real Salt Lake standout. “I think it’s one of, if not the best, arenas in our league. I’m excited to play there and in front of what will obviously be a mix of their fans and some hometown fans.”
Wingert said he loves living in Greenwich Village, which is not far from Red Bulls captain Dax McCarty’s abode.
“Dax and I are pretty good friends and we’re becoming better friends,” Wingert said. “We have a bunch of mutual friends between us.”
Wingert said he wasn’t getting involved in any text-message trash talking and hasn’t participated in the spirited Twitter trolling going on between the clubs. Of the utmost importance for him is helping NYCFC snap a seven-game winless streak.
“It’s a great atmosphere and there’s a lot on the line, but there’s nothing more important for us right now than getting three points,” he said.
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Wingert said he’s been a part of some passionate rivalries during his time in MLS, including being on both sides of the Rocky Mountain Cup. Because of some big playoff matches, Wingert said the LA Galaxy also became a strong rival of RSL.
Where will the league’s new derby up to other MLS rivalries?
“I don’t really know where it can go. The exciting part is the potential of it and the unknown,” Wingert said. “It will be great for the two teams to play in a lot of significant games over the coming years and really get everyone in the area excited.”