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Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls: More than a game

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You have heard plenty of talk this week about Sunday’s match between the Chicago Fire and the New York Red Bulls being just another game.

Don’t believe it because it’s far more than that.

Sunday’s match will the first between feuding clubs, a coach and the team he spurned, an owner and the club that took his coach. For fans, players and coaches, the Fire-Red Bulls match will be worth much more than the three points that will go to the winner, if there is a winner.

So how did this rivalry get so heated? It’s origins have little to do with on-field actions, but rather off-field conflicts through the years.

You could go all the way back to the chilly days of November of 2002, when the New York/New Jersey MetroStars were trying to determine who would replace fired head coach Octavio Zambrano. MetroStars president Nick Sakiewicz was firmly leaning toward a former assistant coach who had gone to England to ply his trade just a year earlier. That man was Juan Carlos Osorio.

Osorio probably would have been hired by the Metros back then, and could had a chance to live his dream of being a head coach in New York five years sooner, if not for the developments that followed. Chicago Fire head coach Bob Bradley was synonymous with the Fire, having been the only head coach the club had ever known. The problem was he was a New Jersey boy, and was feeling some pressure to move his family back home.

Once Bradley let it be known that he wanted the MetroStars job, there was no stopping it from happening. AEG, which owned both the Fire and MetroStars at the time, made it happen. Fire fans were left angry at the coach they loved for so long, and bitter at the club that took him away. As for Osorio, he would have to wait a while longer to arrive in MLS.

Fast-forward to the fall of 2007. Osorio was in the midst of helping the Fire to an impressive turnaround from last place in the East to the Eastern Conference final. He was expected to help rebuild the Fire into the type of consistent title contender Bradley once built the Fire into, but that chance never came. The Red Bulls parted ways with head coach Bruce Arena, opening up the one MLS job Osorio wanted above all others. He left the Fire, angering fans who couldn’t believe their club had lost yet another head coach to a club that has had nowhere near the success the Chicago Fire has had.

What has followed since has only served to stoke the flames. From Chicago owner Andrew Hauptman privately insisting that MLS investigate tampering charges (an insistence that led to an investigatin by the league), to Chicago defender Wilman Conde publicly expressing his desire to leave the Fire and reunite with Osorio, to the tug-of-war over Paraguayan midfielder Lider Marmol, who wanted to play for Osorio and the Red Bulls before signing with the Fire, which had his rights, there has been plenty of ammunition for the fans of both teams to stir up an ever-growing hatred.

It isn’t just the fans either. Despite what you have heard in interviews, both teams WANT this game. Osorio has had this match circled on his calendar for months. Chicago’s players and staff have also been looking forward to it, eager to show the league and their former coach that they are doing just fine without him. Throw in Hauptman’s disdain for his former coach, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he is offering up a reward for whoever scores the game-winning goal against Osorio’s Red Bulls.

So what should we expect from Sunday’s game? A physical battle with plenty of cards and maybe even a shoving match or two. There will be plenty of quality on-field match-ups to drool over (Angel and Altidore vs. the Chicago defense, Cuauhtemoc Blanco vs. Claudio Reyna, Dane Richards vs. Gonzalo Segares), but the sub-plots will be just as tantalizing.

So here’s the question for Red Bulls and Fire fans. Does this match mean more to you than most? Do you absolutely hate the other team? Why do you hate the Red Bulls/Fire? Share your thoughts on the rivalry and the importance of Sunday’s match below.

Comments

  1. I’m definitely looking forward to this game!!

    And reading all of the STUPID comments that will be left by the Fire supporters. And as I’ve read this post, I see there’s quite a lot of them. 🙂

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  2. @Posted by: irishapple21 | May 24, 2008 at 12:34 AM

    less assume pissy and crabby is correct, at least they get to play in front of fans…any fans. Your team is the joke of the league and you know it. RBNY fans are in such deep and dark denial it’s hilarious. You are the Clippers, the Devil Rays and Arizona Cardinals of MLS; the league joke. That much is undeniable. Jesus Christ, even the Wizards have 3 titles to their name!

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  3. @Posted by: kpugs | May 24, 2008 at 01:57 AM

    proving you’re and idiot once again. Chicago has one 2 trophies have they? Let me recap for you once again since I know you RBNY fans have never had to count up trophies you’ve won since that number is still ZERO.

    MLS CUP – 1

    Supporters Shield – 1

    USOC – 4

    If you wanna count Eastern Conference Champs trophies there are 2 of those as well.

    I’m not math genius but I’m counting at least 6 titles. 8 if you include the conference titles. It’s about as many as any other team has, chief.

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  4. @Posted by: Chow | May 23, 2008 at 11:04 AM

    you and your friends will basically double RBNY’s normal attendance. I’m sure they’ll thank you for that.

    I love it. Reyna vs. Blanco? Really? Blanco is going to shred Reyna like a brick of soft cheese. That’s assuming Reyna lasts more than 20 minutes.

    I personally have a feeling this match is going to disappoint a bit and end up in a low scoring draw. I would love it if it was a Fire 4-0 Revs thrashing but it just doesn’t feel like it.

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  5. ag nigrin- basically you are saying that redbulls stand close to zero chance scoring on the fire so you must rely on own goals?? hahahahahaha

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  6. >Las Chicas should play Marmol and Conde! We could use the own goals! Go Red Bulls!

    Damn right you could use them, given that the Pink Cows rarely score. Have fun looking stupid on international TV as the Fire kick your sorry asses all over Hoffa’s grave.

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  7. Kartik…”full of trophies,” awesome. Thanks for lightening things up. I count two. Oh let me guess, the supporters’ shield is a trophy, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    Martha…I have actually been to Chicago. I was going to go into a long diatribe how yes, Chicago is awesome, but how 99% of NJ stereotypes were either fabricated or are actually Staten Island stereotypes assigned to NJ, etc.

    Instead I’ll just ask why anyone should take you seriously when you say things like “New Jersey is 10 crappier than Chicago.” You see that isn’t a real sentence, because “10 crappier” has no reference in it. So go right ahead and keep not knowing how to right in English, and I’ll go right ahead loving Chicago and knowing the actual truth of my home state, since it is so obvious that the closest you have come to being here is a fictional show on HBO. Congratulations, you just made Chicago look like it’s missing about 10 million chromosomes collectively. Wonderful job.

    And for the record, I SPOKE to Alexi Lalas after the sale. Red Bull…the AUSTRIAN COMPANY, you ignorant fool, named the team. But you are a super genius, of course it’s the fans. Why should any fans refer to the team by its official name? I pray you are about 15 years old, I shudder to think what the real world would do to someone as shortsighted and ignorant as you.

    kpugs7@gmail.com

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  8. Chow, you probably won’t see this post but if you find yourself at the stadium early, and you and a couple of buddies want to swing by, go to gate D. Face away from gate D…you’ll see a parking lot more or less in front of you, a grassy/concrete sidewalk/divider, and a parking lot on the right side of that divider.

    If you stay on the left side of the divider and walk to the back fence of the lot and turn left, at the end of that first row of cars you should see two blue canopies, with a bunch of red bulls/metrostars/american flags on it. Ask for me or my brother (I’m Kev, he’s Pat). Mention Ives’ blog and no one will fire their crossbows at you. 🙂

    I know this is probably too late but if you happen to wander over (as long as there aren’t 70 of you, heh) we’ll give you some good food and a few brews, as well as a few insults.

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  9. Eveeryone ripping on Chicago…

    New Jersey is 10 crappier than Chicago.

    There is no team in the state of NY much less city yet.

    Cant wait till Red Metros sell again and their name will be FC Soprano Waste Management.

    NJRM fans crack me up trying to jump on the City/State of New York bandwagon cause your too ashamed to be in NJ…

    and with good reason

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  10. Boo hoo, Fire fans. How can you blame everyone for wanting to leave Chicago? They probably just don’t want to play in front of such a bunch of pissy crybaby fans. Too bad Giants Stadium doesn’t have a permanent stage like Guppy Park, because RBNY is going to put on a show for the Chitown Flamers and it’ll be an off-broadway revival of “STOMP!”

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  11. It’s hard to call it a rivalry when one club has a case full of trophies and the other has never won anything.

    I expect Chicago as usual at seasons end to be sitting in better shape than the Metros.

    But Osorio is by MLS standards a great manager and he’ll get the Metros moving again.

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  12. I do not hate Las Chicas anymore than any other rival team. I am disappointed, though, that JCO will not be on the field for the match-up. That red card was ridiculous!

    Go Bulls!

    Reply

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