South Ward Takes RFK: 1,200 Red Bulls supporters travel to D.C. for Semifinal

The rivalry between the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United is one of the most storied in MLS history, and the Red Bull fans displayed their passion for the team and the Atlantic Cup playoff matchup by purchasing 1,200 tickets to support RBNY on the road.

Although the allocated amount of tickets for travelling fans was no more than 1,000, the high demand for tickets forced negotiations between the clubs. In the end, New York sent 12 buses full of rowdy Red Bull fans to our nation’s capital.

“I changed my name on Twitter to ‘Get on the Bus’ to try to get people to get on the bus. We’ve posted everywhere: Facebook, metrofanatic.com, Twitter, it’s posted on Reddit,” said Empire Supporters Club board member Steven Ferrezza. “We did pretty much everything we could to get as many people as we could on the bus.”

The buses arrived more than two hours before game time and the Red Bull fans enjoyed an exclusive lot for tailgating. Food, drink, and even free Red Bull were distributed to the travelers, while entertainment such as the Red Bull Street Team and a DJ were also present to get the party started.

As for the game itself, the Red Bulls entered the second leg with a 2-0 lead against United. Despite losing the match 2-1, New York advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals 3-2 on aggregate.

According to Viking Army Supporters Club president Jason Corliss, both the win and the turnout could be a sign of better things to come.

“I think within this fan base this will translate to getting more people out and more people really supporting the team vocally in the stadium,” Corliss said. “Often a lot of the noise comes from the South Ward and hopefully we can get more of the stadium into it and going on road trips is usually a great way for new people to get indoctrinated.”

The New York and D.C. rivalry began on October 2, 1996 at RFK Stadium when the two teams met in the first ever MLS Cup Playoffs. In the third and final elimination game of the quarterfinals, the match was tied 1-1 when the MetroStars’ Rob Johnson tackled D.C.’s Marco Etcheverry inside of the penalty box in the 89th minute. Raul Diaz Arce converted the penalty kick which eliminated the MetroStars, and the rivalry was born.

But with New York City FC bound to enter the league in 2015, the prospect of another local team may sway some to assume that the Atlantic Cup will play second fiddle to the New York derby. However, according to one Garden State Ultra supporter, history and not proximity defines RBNY’s biggest rival.

“The D.C. and New York rivalry has been going on since the beginning,” a Garden State Ultra who identified himself as “Terror” said. “It’s the oldest rivalry in MLS and D.C. will always be our number one rival no matter who comes [in] across the [Hudson] river. Bottom-line.”

The New York Red Bulls have one week off before they face the New England Revolution in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Finals at Red Bull Arena on Sunday, November 23. For ticket information, call 1.877.RBSOCCER or visit tickets.newyorkredbulls.com.

For more information on the New York Red Bulls’ supporters clubs, see below.

Mission: “The Empire Supporters Club (“ESC”) is the oldest supporters club in Major League Soccer, founded before the league itself in early 1995 in anticipation of a new professional franchise in New York/New Jersey. Reflecting the community we come from, the ESC is one of the most diverse supporter’s clubs in America, unlike other clubs that are split among national styles or ethnic lines, the ESC is a microcosm of the very region we live in. We boast members from every corner of the globe and members from varied backgrounds.  Our unique make up has influenced our style in the stand, we are part South American Barra, European Ultra, part British Supporter, with local flavor thrown in. The ESC sings in both English and Spanish.”

Mission: “The vision of Garden State Ultras is to create a European ultra-style supporting atmosphere for the New York 96. We do this by standing and singing the entire 90 minutes of the match, incorporating many flags, banners, and smoke. We coordinate songs with the other groups in the South Ward to give our boys on the field the supporting atmosphere they deserve. GSU embraces full diversity in our club and welcomes everyone from all walks of life to come and join us in attaining this vision.”

Mission: “The Viking Army Supporters Club is a collection of boisterous Red Bull New York supporters who all share a tremendous passion for Red Bulls soccer.  Our club is at the forefront of creating elaborate choreographed displays using songs/chants, flags, banners, musical instruments, and smoke both inside and outside the stadium – all to show our love and support of Red Bull NY and to create an exciting game-day atmosphere. While supporting Red Bull NY unites us, the club is truly about establishing friendships and bonds between members that will last a lifetime and, most importantly, passing this torch to younger generations.  Additionally, Viking Army SC is an official 501(c)7 social organization that strives to participate in charitable endeavors in the local community.  Some charities that we work with/donate to include: Just One Soccer League, Kick for Nick, Balls Without Borders, Toys For Tots, Kick ALS, MOvember, and the US Amputee Association.”

Topics: