The resounding 5-2 victory over Chicago was the shot in the arm the local sport needed in the world’s largest media market. The international game is remarkably popular in the New York media market, but the local/domestic game has been struggling since the early 1980s. The Red Bulls success means so much to developing the market not just locally but nationally. It also gives Red Bull the boost it needs in a fight for relevance and significance locally against the new upstart NYCFC.
The timing was also perfect considering the Long Island based New York Cosmos clinched the NASL (US second division) fall title this weekend as well. Part of the NASL’s calculation in entering the New York market was that the Red Bulls were a perennially underachieving first division club. The Cosmos have won silverware on their first try, but being in a second division and being on Long Island ultimately undermines the relevance of any achievements they garner while Red Bull is winning.
Many Red Bulls fans felt Don Garber and NASL had it in for their club by pursuing a second New York area club. I would also hear complaints from some of these same fans about the NASL exploiting the New York market by bringing back the Cosmos. But ultimately today that no longer matters. The Red Bulls are the best team in Major League Soccer and now they fight the battle against other New York area teams in both top divisions of North American soccer from a position of strength. Ultimately a strong and healthy Red Bull is a big boost to American soccer, taking the local game to a new level in the most important media market on the planet.