The Hudson River Derby between New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls does not yet have the rich history as other New York sports rivalries.
However, it may be the most intense rivalry to hit the Big Apple in recent years.
“I know there’s Red Bull fans in the city,” said Mick Mellamphy, co-owner of Upper East Side bar Ryan’s Daughter, “but I think that [the] majority of NYCFC fans have that stigma of ‘You guys are New Jersey, and we’re New York.’ ”
The New York City soccer scene has grown since NYCFC’s arrival in 2015. The club has averaged more than 20,000 per match at Yankee Stadium since its debut, but attendance spikes against the Red Bulls. Their first-ever match in the Bronx attracted 48,047 fans on June 28, 2015.
“New York teams have always been in rivalries with each other,” said Flushing resident Jerzy Kurjanski, an NYCFC supporter. “[The Hudson River Derby has] given sports fans a new rivalry to experience and be a part of.”
So far, the Red Bulls have hogged bragging rights, leading the MLS series 5-2-0, including a 7-0 rout at Yankee Stadium last season.
But that hasn’t stopped the rivalry from growing within the five boroughs. Many fans within the city found it difficult to support the Red Bulls, a New Jersey-based team and original MLS franchise. NYCFC, however, has been easy to get behind.
“When NYCFC came, it expanded right into the city,” said Bronx native and current Perth Amboy, New Jersey, resident Michael Hansen, a Red Bull supporter. “I feel like a lot of those people in the five boroughs never had an actual connection until now.”
The biggest thing brought up between the two clubs is the geographical divide. The Red Bulls, originally the New York-New Jersey MetroStars, are based out of Harrison, New Jersey, and, mostly until NYCFC’s arrival, barely played in New York throughout their 22-season history.
“You have these bunch of pretenders who have been masquerading as New York for the past 20 years, even though they’re west of the Hudson,” said Mellamphy, a Manhattan resident. “I’ve never felt that the Red Bulls have had any allegiance to New York City itself.”