With New York City FC in the midst of their first season, the team and its supporters have been ticking off rites of passage for an MLS club. Next up: Experiencing their first local rivalry game.
NYCFC supporters group The Third Rail is taking to the actual third rail as part of their invasion of Red Bull Arena for the first-ever Hudson River Derby between New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls Sunday night (7 pm ET, FOX Sports 1).
“We’re hoping to take over a PATH train or two,” said The Third Rail president Chance Michaels, who will be part of an estimated 1,500 from the supporters group making the trip to Harrison, New Jersey. “It’s going to be a pretty red stadium, but we want to make a really blue showing.”
Michaels is proud that there’s been Third Rail members at every road match thus far, but this will by far be the largest organized gathering yet.
“We’ve had a presence, but never quite like this,” Michaels said. “It’s going to be fun, something completely new for many of us who are just now getting a real introduction to MLS.”
According to Red Bulls officials, NYCFC fans will occupy sections 219 and 220 in what is expected to be a sold-out Red Bull Arena. The clubs have worked together on ticket allotment and logistics of what could be the largest visiting support yet at Red Bull Arena.
“I know the [New England Revolution] had a lot of people there for the playoffs, but their team bussed them in,” Michaels said. “As far as supporters making their own way there, we could be the biggest group.”
Michaels said the group plans to meet at a couple of Manhattan pubs beginning early Sunday afternoon before embarking together to Harrison. Michaels said The Third Rail will make their voices heard, but there are no plans for a tifo.
“We’re saving our big tifo for when they come visit us,” Michaels said.
An even larger crowd is expected for that game, with NYCFC officials announcing on Wednesday the upper deck will be open when the teams meet at Yankee Stadium on June 28.
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As for the buildup to the first-ever meeting between the budding rivals, Michaels said the Twitter banter has been great. The Red Bulls fired the opening salvo by telling NYCFC to “study up” for Sunday with a photo of a song list from The Third Rail.
The response was immediate from The Third Rail, which pulled out a photo of a song list from the Empire Supporters Group dated April 27, 1996. The message? “Ignoring its own team’s history. Definitely a first.”
“We have a lot of friends all over the city,” Michaels said when asked about finding the song list that quickly. “We didn’t have a response pre-planned, but we had one pretty quickly.”