A native of Chicago, the Weekender never knew Red
Bulls fans actually existed.
Real Red Bulls fans. Real
in the sense that Columbus Crew fans were always real. Chicago Fire fans
were always real. Seattle Sounders fans were real from day one. Even
Galaxy fans were real. They were in a Paul Rudd movie, so it must be so.
But Red Bulls fans? They were an ornery bunch of
bridge-and-tunnelers who’d slipped into the MLS ether while new teams
came along and spray painted electric green and cobalt on the league
mural commissioned when Fredy Montero was still in grade school. They
trudged to New Jersey and spent hollow summer nights at Giants Stadium,
while every other team on the expansion radar promised and delivered
amazing stadiums even in less-than-amazing industrial suburbs like
Commerce City or Bridgeview.
Red Bulls fans didn’t even used to
be Red Bulls fans. They were MetroStars fans. And before that New
York/New Jersey MetroStars fans. How’s that for an identity crisis? Crew
fans were Crew fans. Period. They brown bagged it to work and cheered
for Frankie Hejduk and things never changed. D.C. United fans were
United fans. Period. They made the stands at RFK rock up and down and
things never changed.
But things have changed in New York. A
lot. New coach, new stadium, new players. Which leads to the Weekender’s
confession: When Joel Lindpere rocketed that gorgeous volley off Andrew
Dysktra’s mitts last weekend and led New York past Chicago in the
season opener, it felt good to see Red Bulls fans elate.
existed after all, patting each other on the backs for Lindpere’s blast
or for Bouna Condoul’s heroics, seemingly forgetting all about 2009,
when the league’s most important market was the league’s worst team.
The league’s curious schedule has a light week of games on Easter
weekend just one week removed from the opener, but no matter. New York’s
trip west to Seattle on Saturday night would have been the game of the
week even on a full slate, if only for the chance to see Red Bulls fans
test their stomachs two weeks into 2010.
Did the Chicago win
mean much? Maybe not. Last week’s opponent are in flux with no identity
yet and a glorified rookie in net. This week’s opponent are concrete
with Kasey Keller and Freddie Ljungberg and Sigi Schmid and the whole
polished bunch, looking every bit the best reason to stand in the rain
in Seattle since Nirvana lined them around the block at the Crocodile
Café in 1992. (The Weekender didn’t know $3 tickets existed either.)
If New York wins this one, maybe the club is as real as those fans.
The Weekender will certainly give them that much. Maybe Red Bulls fans
can reassert their rightful place on the MLS landscape, not as a bitter
league original but a phoenix rising on the PATH train to Jersey.
Theater: Clash of the Titans
The last time Liverpool FC lover Liam Neeson and Chelsea fan Ralph
Fiennes shared the screen was in a Nazi holocaust camp in Steven
Spielberg’s seminal drama Schindler’s List. Are the stakes
somehow higher this time, when Neeson (Zeus) and Fiennes (Hades) choose
sides in Clash of the Titans? Tough call. Regardless, neither
of them are Harry Hamlin.
Bookmark: The Big Short
Did anyone but the Weekender wonder why Sandra
Bullock never mentioned Michael Lewis on Oscar night? After all, Lewis
was the one who did the dirty work: He wrote the novel The Blind
Side. Lewis is also famous for making stats geeks baseball’s
hottest commodity with Moneyball and Gordon Gecko look soft in Liar’s
Poker, and his new best-seller digs into the sub-prime mortgage
Listen Up: LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
Could the Weekender send Red Bulls fans out there
without some New York music? The Internet was abuzz this week over the
new single “Drunk Girls” from this NYC dance/punk group, with a
much-hyped third album highlighting an already stacked month of May for
new releases. Until them, go back and check out the group’s 2007
release, which spawned the tailgate must-have hits “All My Friends” and
“North American Scum.” The latter comes complete with the quintessential
line: “New York’s the greatest if you get someone to pay the rent.”
Nick Firchau is a new media editor with
MLSsoccer.com. “The Weekender” column appears every Friday.