On Support and Rivalries Following The Hudson Derby

After a heavy New York City loss, I explore a productive approach to support and whether the Hudson Derby is still a "rivalry"
by Nick Chavez   |   Thursday, May 26, 2016

Well, it's been almost a week since the Red Bulls scored a touchdown in a baseball stadium, so I hope everyone has come to terms with it and moved on, and I'm relieved to say it seems most have. Dwelling on failure and negativity is always counter-productive, besides actively working on how to avoid past mistakes. 

So, after those 7 punches in the gut from New Jersey's finest, I want to talk about two things: support and rivalries.

An approach to supporting

It seemed to me that after the early first goal in the 3rd minute by Red Bull captain Dax McCarty, the vast majority in the New York City FC supporter section shut down for the rest of the match, with a few visible exceptions.

Now, I wouldn't dare dictate how New York City FC supporters should "support", but I'd like to share my thoughts on it to those who would take the time to consider them. 

Saturday's Hudson Derby was obviously a tough pill to swallow, but New York City still had a chance to win that match even by the start of the 2nd half down 0-3. 

We know from history and what players from around the world have always said -- vocal support matters to the players and really helps inspire to push them harder than they may have originally thought possible.

Look no further than one of the most famous comebacks in football history: Liverpool's 3-0 fightback in the 2nd half vs. AC Milan in 2005 in the UEFA Champion's League Final -- the storied "Miracle of Istanbul."

Liverpool were outclassed by the best team in the world at the time in the first half, featuring one of your own, "Il Maestro" Andrea Pirlo. 

The Reds looked done and dead. How could they possibly come back against the strongest team in the world, and a defensively-disciplined Italian team at that, 3 goals down in the Champion's League Final? 

As abysmal as it all looked, Liverpool fans sought to channel their negative energy into positivity, singing their trademark "You'll Never Walk Alone" loud and proud at half-time, as if it were actually their Liverpool that were winning 3-0. 

Without a doubt, this helped inspire the legendary comeback of this Liverpool side that ended up winning them their 5th Champion's League title. 

Now, had most New York City FC supporters sang throughout the match and sought to inspire their side in song, would they have come back and beaten the Red Bulls? Who knows. Probably not, realistically-speaking. 

That said, it certainly would've given Los Celestes the best chance psychologically, even spiritually, to try to claw back into this battle for New York. Instead, greeted by an icy silence from their supporters, the anxiety of their own failure in motion is magnified. 

Knowing that they've disappointed themselves, their families, friends and their loyal support (on national television, no less), the negativity begins to consume the players, making the possibility of four more goals conceded ever more likely, and a famous comeback an even more remote possibility. 

But, for me, that's only a small part of it, since a comeback at that point was always unlikely. As supporters, I believe you are not just representing the players and the performance they happen to be giving. I believe supporters are representing their community, their city -- themselves. 

So, if you're not going to sing and chant for your players because you're disappointed in their effort or execution, at least sing for yourselves. Sing for the City. Show what you're made of, even when your boys let you down, which they are destined to do from time to time. All teams do. 

On national television, in a hyped derby around the world, it was an opportunity for New York City supporters to make a real statement. A statement that nobody comes in to New York City's house and shuts you up. No matter the score. No matter what your Celestes decide to do that day. Nobody should be messing up your party. Nobody's voices should be drowning you out. Especially not Red Bull fans. 

It was an opportunity to emphatically show the world you're love for your side, yourselves and what you have built, which is true and unwavering. A chance to really announce to the world that true, passionate support by the world's standard has arrived and is alive and well in New York City, no matter the result.

It was an opportunity to "win in the stands", even if your side let you down on the pitch. You can't control what happens on the field, but you can always control whether you win the battle in the stands in your home stadium. 

The good news is, there will be other opportunities to prove this. And I hope NYCFC supporters strongly consider my thoughts and think about that next time they are faced with adversity.

In the supporters section, I think you should always be mentally-prepared for this type of result. For me, the best thing to do in these situations is to consciously channel that negative energy into defiant positive energy.

Show the world you won't shut up, and hell, you may even end up inspiring your side the same way those Liverpool fans did. And, at the very least, you can drown out the travelling Red Bull support, and show the world watching that New York City fans are quite serious and ready to be counted amongst the most exemplary support in the world. That, in itself, is a success. And it's a hell of a lot more productive than displaying petulance, staying quiet and leaving the stands early.

This will earn a lot of respect, and I think, attract more new people to the club, just like the great support of Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund, Portland Timbers, Boca Juniors, Atletico de Madrid and others win admirers the world over. 

It should also always be kept in mind that the fans sitting around Yankee Stadium also look to you. You are the leaders of New York City support. You start the songs, and you set the tone. Be big for them and for yourselves. 

If you ask me, this is the most practical, satisfying and productive way to support, especially in the face of adversity, but maybe some of you disagree. Of course all supporters are free to support as they see fit. 

But, I'll let Vieira's words from yesterday close my part of this discussion, "It's important for the fans to keep behind the team because we need them, and the support is massively important for us for what we want to achieve."

Is the Hudson Derby still a "rivalry"?

I've seen a bunch of knee-jerk "hot takes" this week basically saying the Hudson Derby isn't really a rivalry yet, due to the one-sided nature of the results of Red Bulls v. New York City thus far. Of course, they're mistaken. 

Rivalries, especially local derbies, aren't such because of recent results, but because of the reciprocated animosity between the teams' fans, as well as the teams themselves. Would anyone dare assert that this animosity doesn't exist?

As a reference, UEFA Champion's League finalists Club Atletico de Madrid were winless for 14 years (!) vs. Real Madrid before 2013. But, nobody would be daft enough to say that, due to Atleti's dismal form vs their cross-town opponents, it wasn't a "real" rivalry. 

Also, keep in mind it has only been 4 games. Have some perspective.

Red Bull fans still hate NYCFC and what they think the club represents -- a bunch of upstart MLS fans who completely shunned their beloved team in New Jersey for a shiny new team in the City with no history or legitimacy to call themselves "New York City's real team." 

As for NYCFC fans, I imagine they don't feel any more affection for Red Bull now than they did before a 0-7 whipping at home, nor losing 4 times in a row, nor all of the trash talk from Red Bull fans that have been disrespecting the very idea of New York City FC and its fans since the franchise was announced in 2013. 

It's a rivalry, people. Now, let's move on. 


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This is the longest-running column focused on the only team representing the 5 Boroughs in world football: New York City FC. Long may its supporters continue to make history.