By IVES GALARCEP
UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J.- When the announcement of New York City FC as Major League Soccer’s 20th expansion team hit, the official reaction from the New York Red Bulls was a tame one. A non-descript statement with a bland response from the team’s front office gave little evidence of the budding rivalry MLS is hoping will form.
Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke’s response to New York’s newest soccer team was far more passionate, and if his reaction to his team’s newest competition is any indication, the RBNY-NYCFC rivalry could be a fiery one.
The New York native didn’t mince words about the arrival of an MLS expansion team in the neighborhood currently occupied by his Red Bulls, and Petke is counting the days until he gets a chance to face them.
“It’s good to have a true derby, a true rivalry,” Petke said. “I think it’s good for the league to grow and all that.
“In the flip-side of that, we have a history here,” Petke added. “They’re the new guys coming in and I’m looking forward to smashing them in 2015 to be honest with you.”
MLS commissioner Don Garber stated once again on Wednesday that he firmly believes NYCFC and the Red Bulls will function as natural rivals, and Petke laid down the gantlet for the new club in the New York area.
“I don’t have any love for (them just) because it’s a new team in the league,” Petke said. “I love this league, and I think expansion is (a good) thing, but now they’ve come in where we are. We’ll welcome them, hopefully, with a smashing the first time we see them.”
Petke couldn’t hide his contempt for the new team, even going as far as saying the fact that the New York Yankees are now part owners of NYCFC might mean his days as a Yankee fan are over.
“I was (a Yankee fan). All my life,” Petke said. “Now it’s going to be interesting. I don’t know if I can root for them.”
The first Red Bulls-NYCFC derby is still two years away, but it is safe to say you can add Petke to the list of people counting the days until the league’s 20th team arrives and faces the Red Bulls.