The following letter was delivered to the front office of Red Bull New York on July 22, 2011:
We, the unified supporters groups of the South Ward, are writing to formally express our protest of Red Bull New York’s recent treatment of the US Open Cup.
For those unfamiliar, the US Open Cup is the oldest club competition in our country. It has a long, rich tradition both in our local area and across this country. While it may not rival MLS Cup in prestige, it is a trophy valued by fans of club soccer across this country. As a team without a trophy throughout our long history, we look forward each year to competing in this tournament. Some of our franchise’s most glorious wins- and some of its worst losses- have come in the open cup. Many of us became long time fans of this team during events like our run to the US Open Cup final in 2003.
Having beaten FC New York to earn a place in the quarterfinals, we were looking forward to our team competing to win a chance to host a semi-final, and possibly making another run to the final. Other organizations in our league, including Chicago and Seattle- regardless of what other engagements they are involved in- always make competing in the US Open Cup a priority both for their organization and for their fans.
Our organization displayed no such priority by sending a minimum of players and two assistant coaches to Chicago to compete in the game. We are in no way disparaging the efforts of the players on the field, or the coaches that did go to Chicago; we truly believe that they competed to the last to win the game, and we thank them for their efforts on our behalf. We understand that in sports you can’t always win every game that you play. The one thing you can control, however, is putting forth an effort. We are not upset that our players lost the game, but rather that the organization did not make an honest attempt to try to win it.
If the coach was not able to travel for medical reasons, that could have been stated to the fans in advance. However, no such communication was made, leaving fans to speculate that neither he nor his top assistant deigned to even travel to the game; the team didn’t even bother to explain his absence until questioned after the fact. These acts show the competition a lack of respect. Bringing a minimum of players and starting a squad of reserves and substitute players shows the competition a lack of respect. Not honestly attempting to win the game disrespects the dozen fans that drove to Chicago and back to watch the game, and to lend the team what small support they could.
Over the years we have expressed frustration to this organization that we felt the competition was not always being taken seriously, and those complaints have generally fallen on deaf ears. We now feel that our ordinary annual expression of frustration at the organization’s inability to take this tournament seriously is no longer adequate.
For the first half of Saturday’s game against Dallas, our combined clubs will remain silent, in protest of this organizations casual approach to taking the on-field success of our team seriously. We are likewise asking members to review their purchase of season tickets, and whether such commitment to the organization is warranted in light of these events.
We certainly understand that Red Bull has made great strides in building a world-class stadium, hiring an internationally respected General Manager and coaches, and filling our roster with talented players. We do appreciate those efforts. However, this team must exist first and foremost as an entity with legitimate sporting ambitions, or else it surrenders itself to being a farce, as it did last week.
It has simply become hard for us to take seriously an organization, and to spend the hours we do pouring our lives into supporting it, with such a tenuous understanding of how necessary competitions like this are to its most passionate supporters.
We would like to formally request an apology to all supporters of this organization, and to ask that this team commit itself to taking all legitimate sporting competitions into which it is entered (MLS Cup, Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions League) with the respect that those competitions deserve. With the same respect shown by other clubs in our league.
Empire Supporters Club
Garden State Supporters