Categorized | Commentary

A time of mixed emotions (for now)

Posted on 19 March 2010 by ASN Staff

Fans of New York’s Major League Soccer franchise, toughened by a decade and a half of hardship, are no strangers to misery. If their team’s 15 years of dreary existence at the East Rutherford, N.J., Meadowlands accomplished anything, it certainly made them (at least somewhat) immune to such negative emotions.

A metaphorical cloud hangs over Red Bull Arena... ©ASN/Scott Marsh

But now is not a time for negativity. The team’s gleaming new soccer palace in Harrison, N.J., Red Bull Arena, stands ready for its “grand opening” tomorrow evening. The match with Brazil’s Santos FC has been sold out for some time. The new ground has received rave reviews from virtually anybody who set foot in it (including this guy). Even the weather is cooperating, with record high temperatures and sunny skies enveloping the New York region. An aura of positivity, renewal and yes, hope, hangs over the team.

Or does it? Because there are reasons to believe the curse that has hung over the team since its inception is not dead or even dormant, but healthier than ever–and indeed plotting its cruelest joke yet. As if to launch a warning shot across the bow of fans flight of fancy, tonight come reports of brush fires in Harrison, N.J. (ASN is monitoring the situation and will update this story if the grand opening is affected in any way). More concretely, the MLS labor impasse leaves a dark (metaphorical) cloud hanging over Red Bull Arena. Just when the New York Red Bulls franchise is ready to break free of the doom and gloom that has forever haunted it, fans are faced with the very real possibility that the season could be postponed (or worse) by a players strike.

This unfortunate situation has tempered the unprecedented aura of positivity. Which begs the question: If it’s constrained, can it really be called happiness?

Whatever its name, it has Red Bulls fans in a strange state. Why let it all ride and let optimism rein, as this blogger did, when you’re only going to be let down (dramatically) later on? On the other hand, this is a new era in the team’s history and it should be embraced with glee (okay bad wordchoice. Let’s move on. Quickly). Besides, aren’t the players just posturing? The last reports out of Washington, D.C., where the two sides have been meeting, tell of marathon sessions, which implies progress. And even if there is a strike, many expect it to be short, perhaps very short. Maybe it won’t even affect the team’s March 27 home opener?

Or is this just all wishful thinking? Soccer’s history in this country is pockmarked by infighting and self-destruction more than just about anything. Some pundits are saying a strike would endanger the league’s very existence. Already, owners are talking tough. Is this just more posturing? Where will this all end?

The truth is, nobody knows. Could the players really be angry (or crazy?) enough to go through with a strike? Why don’t the owners just give in to a few of their demands if it means salvaging topflight professional soccer in this country? Or are the players not being realistic? Haven’t owners sunk hundreds of millions of dollars into MLS? Shouldn’t they be able to recover some of these costs? Or is this really not about money, as player (officially) claim?

There are countless questions and they present a real conundrum, particularly for Red Bulls fans. On some level you do want to think a solution will be found–particularly if the sides are presently in negotiations. Surely, cooler heads will prevail, a settlement will be reached and the season will kick off on time. There is simply too much (including a $200 million “arena”) hanging in the balance. A deal will get done and MLS will live happily ever after. A year from now we’ll barely even remember this stuff.

Then again, that might just be horribly naive. Maybe it’s wiser to anticipate the worst? At least you won’t be let down. And hey, maybe the Sky Blue FC can use Red Bull Arena in the interim? Or else there’s always rugby.

At least all this neurosis proves one thing: The Red Bulls are a true New York team. Hopefully they can remain one long enough to enjoy the new stadium.

8 Comments For This Post

  1. dfjersey Says:

    As Viper said earlier – tomorrow, we celebrate Red Bull Arena and the joy of being out of the hell hole that was Giants Stadium. On Sunday, we worry about the strike. As many of others have, I've suffered through the misery of the swamp, have dreamed about this day and frankly, won't sleep tonight in anticipation of walking through those gates tomorrow. I am hoping for a reappearance of some of the old guard, like Macca and Ron Ferguson – for all the hard work they put in to get the party going…..they deserve to enjoy where we are now.

  2. whoshotsam Says:

    I'm going to just enjoy tomorrow and put the thoughts of labor negotiations and strikes out of my head for 24 hours. If we have a strike it probably won't be a long one and the games will likely be made up at some point. Should be a glorious day tomorrow. I'm usually a bit pessimistic by nature but enough of that for now.

  3. dfjersey Says:

    well said whoshotsam

  4. ASN Editorial Says:

    Good points, guys. Tomorrow is all about celebration.

  5. dfjersey Says:

    As Viper said earlier – tomorrow, we celebrate Red Bull Arena and the joy of being out of the hell hole that was Giants Stadium. On Sunday, we worry about the strike. As many of others have, I've suffered through the misery of the swamp, have dreamed about this day and frankly, won't sleep tonight in anticipation of walking through those gates tomorrow. I am hoping for a reappearance of some of the old guard, like Macca and Ron Ferguson – for all the hard work they put in to get the party going…..they deserve to enjoy where we are now.

  6. whoshotsam Says:

    I'm going to just enjoy tomorrow and put the thoughts of labor negotiations and strikes out of my head for 24 hours. If we have a strike it probably won't be a long one and the games will likely be made up at some point. Should be a glorious day tomorrow. I'm usually a bit pessimistic by nature but enough of that for now.

  7. dfjersey Says:

    well said whoshotsam

  8. ASN Editorial Says:

    Good points, guys. Tomorrow is all about celebration. Let it be so. Plenty of time to worry afterwards.

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