Lately there has been an increased level of anti-Red Bulls and anti-NYC FC rhetoric coming from Cosmos supporters. I can’t provide a reason for the hate – maybe the critics don’t like Mike Petke, maybe they are Mets fans – but I know it has to stop.
It’s not helping growth. In order to continue the growth of soccer in the New York metropolitan area, fans need to attend as many games as possible in as many leagues as possible, spend their money, spread the word and generally support the game. If current fans limit their support to one team and one league, they are selling themselves short. And fans who are new to the sport will think it’s inappropriate to support more than one team and league. When I try to convince non-soccer fans to check out a game, I often recommend that they attend a USL or NASL game if they can’t afford an MLS game. This is especially important if an entire family wants to attend a game. If they end up supporting a USL team, great. But surely no one would object to that same family supporting an MLS team. The reason being, the USL and MLS don’t compete with each other.
There is no competition. It’s understandable and expected when fans of a team talk trash to one of its opponents. But the Cosmos of the NASL do not compete with the Red Bulls of MLS, nor do they compete with NYC FC of the Not Yet Even In A League. There’s no reason why someone can’t support the Cosmos and the RedBulls (which is what I happen to do). Otherwise, Yankees fan wouldn’t be able to also root for the Long Island Ducks, which is preposterous. (If you don’t believe me, check out a Ducks game. Everyone there wears a Yankees or Mets hat while cheering for the Ducks.)
Comparing Apples to Oranges. Cosmos supporters are trash talking based on championships separated by an organizational absence of nearly 30 years. The old Cosmos and the new Cosmos – or “Cosmos Reboot” as the organization calls it – are two completely different organizations, connected solely by a trademark and a university’s stadium. To compare the Cosmos to the Red Bulls, one must compare their current organizations, which is nearly impossible to do. The Red Bulls have been in existence since the dawn of MLS in 1996, while the Cosmos have played a total of six games. (NYC FC has yet to schedule their first game.) St. Louis Cardinals fans constantly cite the Chicago Cubs’ 104-year championship drought when trash talking, which is fair as they’ve both been in existence consistently and simultaneously since 1892. But the negative rhetoric that Cosmos supporters are spewing is akin to citing the failures of the pre-1950 Baltimore Colts when discussing the Indianapolis Colts; they are two completely different organizations.
It’s no secret that the Cosmos’ goal is to play in the MLS; they’ve acknowledged that publicly since before the Reboot. If and when that happens, I look forward to all the “Red Bulls suck” chants and “Go Away NYC” tifos. The teams will be direct competitors, and I personally would have to choose a side to support (I already know what I’ll do). But until the day comes when the Cosmos of MLS host the Red Bulls of MLS at a still-undetermined stadium somewhere in the New York area, can’t we all just get along?