NYC Soccer Fans Weren’t Born With NYCFC

The Big Apple has been packed with soccer fans since the beginning of American pro soccer
by Daniel Feuerstein   |   Monday, March 23, 2015

Branded Bulls – column on Red Bull NY (RBNY – NYRB) & the New Jersey area soccer scene.

Let me be the first to say it — New York City FC did not create soccer fans in New York.

We’ve been here all along.

I was born in New York back in 1973.My parents, immigrants of communist Romania and Hungary, came over to the United States from Italy and met in New York City. They lived in Brooklyn, then moved to Queens in the Rego Park neighborhood, but settled in the Bronx permanently and owned their own business.

While growing up in the Bronx in the late 70’s, early 80’s we drove to East Rutherford, N.J., to watch the New York Cosmos play at Giants Stadium along with my uncle, aunt and my two cousins from Queens. We saw Bugs Bunny run around the wall of the lower bowl and watched the great players of the day storm the pitch.

But, as many of you know, the Cosmos were soon out of business. There was no longer a true professional NYC team.

Going to the 1994 World Cup that was held in the United States, I swore to myself that I would root for a local NYC/NJ professional team if there was a true professional league in the USA again.

Two years later, MLS and the NY/NJ MetroStars were born. From their first game until they were sold and became Red Bull New York in 2006, I rooted for the club. Now, I cover them and watch them every week.

But some would say that my devotion to RBNY isn’t an indicator of how NYC feels about soccer. Some believe this city is changing because of NYCFC, and that the new club’s 40,000 attendance is a sign of success for the future of NYC soccer. But, honestly, it’s only the first home game and second game of their shortened existence. The novelty fades and fans drift away over time. There’s also a myriad of factors that it’s too early to tell what NYCFC will be.

Real New York City soccer fans were not born yesterday, nor were they born when NYCFC came alive to begin the 20th season of MLS. They were born when the sport came over a very long time ago and they have been rooting for so many pub sides, local sides, professional sides like the ASL, ASL II, Original NASL, U.S.I.S.L and now MLS and the rebirth of the New York Cosmos in the rebirth of the NASL.

NYCFC fans haven’t been through the dark times that Metro fans have. They haven’t faced the harassment of die hard Metro/Red Bull Supporters behind the net at section 101 of Giants Stadium by the Meadowlands security guards. They haven’t been ridiculed by these same security guards as fans are walking around the promenade with their soccer jerseys.

I was attacked once when I was walking while drinking a bottle of water at a game at Giants Stadium. I was nearly taken out by a security guard. And when he missed and past me by, there was a sarcastic “OH EXCUSE ME!” from the idiot who didn’t do his job.

When Red Bull Arena was finally christened and constructed, it showed a major push and progress that the sport was finally getting the respect it deserved from within the NYC Metro area. And seeing several sell outs, including the last home playoff game in the 1st Leg of the Eastern Conference Finals of 2014, was a wonderful sight to see.

But real NYC soccer fans have been a part of this for years — like the Empire Supporters Club and the other two sides like the Garden State Ultras and the Viking Army that make up the South Ward.

In closing, let me say that 3 games does not make it a success — it takes more than a few games as well as a few seasons to get it right and it takes real passion to get on a PATH train, a NJ Transit train or driving a car to get to see a real soccer game in a real soccer stadium.

While it is a great success to open the existence of this new club, we shall see if the greatest city in the world will allow this new team claim its spot among the fans.

Daniel FEUERSTEIN

Nationality:
USA
College:
Ramapo College
Club Domestic:
Red Bull NY
Club Foreign:
PSG, ManU, Maccabbi Haifa
Original New York Cosmos fan, reborn soccer fan since 1994 USA World Cup. Feuerstein’s Fire podcast host. Covers NY Red Bulls for SN, and promotes all levels of American soccer from both sides of issues.
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