Thursday, April 12, 2007

God Hates the Red Bulls

Even the most casual MLS fan must realize that the almighty has had a thing about the soccer team from the swamp. A quick traipse through the Metro-Red Bull record book will conjure such golden memories as:

-Caricola's gaffe in the club's first-ever home game
-Rob Johnson's series-ending foul in the '96 playoffs
-MLS #1 draft pick Steve Shak
-Lothar Mattaeus
-Tab Ramos' health
-The '03 USOC final
-All of 1999
-The blind linesman allowing Earnie Stewart to score in the '04 playoffs
-Etc. etc.

One Metro-Red Bull constant is the tendency for home matches to coincide with bad weather. Now no MLS team (save DC perhaps) is immune to cold, rain, or snow having a negative impact on attendance. As we know, season ticket holders are in the minority at MLS stadiums. However, as most (and now all) NY home matches are televised, even in good weather the Giants Stadium experience offers little incentive for fans to show up and cheer the team on.

This Sunday's Red Bull home opener (3pm ET on MSG and Telefutura) vs. FC Dallas will be played in a cold, windy rainstorm that will keep most sensible people indoors, much less soccer fans. As with the 2005 home opener vs. RSL (a scoreless draw played in 40+mph winds that made passing impossible) and the 2nd home match in 2006 vs. DC (a 4-1 loss played in a cold, stinging rain), there may be as few as 5,000 actual human beings rattling around the Swamp for the national television audience.

Certainly, the Metros have endured many man-made mistakes in their time, but one has to wonder if the league office would be better served by postponing all NY home games until after May 1, if only to escape the wrath of the almighty. Off the field, anyway. Good luck, Claudio.

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