I love soccer and soccer culture. I think something that makes it so great is the community aspect. Thousands of people standing and singing for the team that represents their community (often times as narrow as neighborhoods or streets) on the global stage of soccer. This is why I don't understand people who claim to be supporters of clubs in cities in Europe they've never been to, or even know the local language. When I first became drawn to soccer, probably around 2008, I fell in love with Red Bull, because I felt like they were my soccer team. I joined ESC, and went to as many games as I could. I was at the final soccer game at Giants Stadium (I think it was a win against Toronto, one of the 3 or 4 on the season, also eliminated Toronto from their first potential playoff appearance), and I was there in 2010 when they opened RBA and beat Santos. I absolutely loved the experience of the fans in the Ironbound in Newark and marching to the stadium from the bars across the river. Eventually, I accepted that the club and the culture around the club were complete shams. I always knew it; I always hated the corporate brand, always called the team "Metros", even when the RB/Metro riff turned into a general "we need to call them Red Bulls" sentiment. And the whole "New York" thing finally buried it for me. I hate New York as a city, I hate being associated with New York, I hate the culture and people of New York, I hate it all. Being a Devils fan is about being from New Jersey and being proud of it. Being a Devils fan is about embracing our culture as distinct and unique. When I meet Rangers fans from New Jersey, I lose some respect for them on a fundamental level. When we have a team that represents our collective community, you must have some serious lack of respect for that community to support the Rangers (or Islanders, but I don't really run into those folks a lot). What I loved about going to Red Bull games in Harrison was what I percieved to be an expression of our culture. This was our team. But that's just not how it is. I can't sit here and loathe everything about New York, percieve a New York team in a different sport as a bitter and hated geographic rival, and then show up to a soccer game in Harrison with "New York" embroidered on the chest of the shirt I'm wearing. I haven't been to a game in a few years, nor do I really have an interest in doing so in the forseeable future. I can't experience a Devils game and feel that same personal connection to a club that plays in essentially the same town, that markets to the city of our most hated rival. The same way I could never buy a Brooklyn Nets jersey and stomach supporting that team after how they left. The same way I'm losing my connection with the baseball team I've loved since I was a kid.
RIght now, I'm just kind of in a soccer limbo. I love the game, I'll watch it on occaision, I even still love MLS, but I don't have a team. We don't have a team. I wish I could be excited about Red Bull clinching the Supporters Shield today, the way I know I would've been two years ago. The way my RB contacts I still have are. I wish I could even go to Philadelphia Union games, but I just can't do that either. What my serious hope is right now, is that when this new New York team takes the field, it will financially and ideologically cripple Red Bull. Does it make sense to try to compete for New York when this New York City team that people within the boroughs have been begging for for years shows up playing in New Jersey? Especially with the Cosmos now in the NASL out on Long Island. Are you going to realistically be able to draw a significant amount of people from New York? If not, I'm not sure it's wise to continue to alienate the community you play in for better exposure for your energy drink marketing campaign. Admittedly, not everyone thinks like I do, and even the most hard core of Devils fans may not be as thoroughly offended by Red Bull as I am. But, my hope is that common sense prevails. Hopefully Red Bull sells, and someone comes in and accepts the true geographic identity of this team. Maybe they can call them New Jersey whatever, or Newark whatever, but if that day ever were to come, I'd be the first one back in line, and that team would have my lifelong dedication. Hell, maybe one day the NBA will come back our way, and the Newark Bears will be an MLB team. A man can dream.