On Thursday night, the New York Red Bulls eliminated New York City FC from the Leagues Cup.
An Omir Fernandez penalty kick gave RBNY the 1-0 win over their rivals in the impromptu Hudson River Derby.
The fans at Red Bull Arena were mostly well-behaved during the match.
However, following the game, multiple violent clashes permeated outside.
This came despite it being the second lowest-attended match between the two teams (11,004).
— Cameron Meyer (@cameronm1221) August 4, 2023
It’s naïve to think that clashes won’t happen between rival teams. Major League Soccer boasts “Heineken Rivalry Week” as a significant event. But most of the games during those series have ingrained bad blood in them. The Hudson River Derby is no exception.
The line comes when weapons are being brandished against members of the media.
John Perd, an independent photographer who covers RBNY, said a knife was drawn against him by an NYCFC fan following the match.
— Jp (@John_Perd) August 4, 2023
Perd later confirmed he got home safely.
— Jp (@John_Perd) August 4, 2023
The incident was heard over fire scanners, with reports calling for an ambulance to one of the RBA gates. No arrests have been confirmed following this incident.
Other reports from outside the stadium suggest Red Bull fans ambushed NYCFC fans as they left out of Gate C. Members of the Third Rail, NYCFC’s main supporter’s group, accused RBNY group Torcida 96 for this. No official comment has come from Torcida about these incidents. At the very least, this was a failure of Red Bull Arena staff to keep supporters separated following the end of the match.
Poor behavior did not just occur outside, however. Late in the match, with NYCFC trailing, a loud homophobic chant rang out. It came from the City supporter section as Carlos Coronel was taking a penalty kick. The public address announcer put out a warning against using the chant, with stiffer punishments promised if it continued. This was also after both teams spoke before the game, in Spanish and English, asking for respect.
NYCFC head coach Nick Cushing was asked about the chant after the game. He chose to deflect.
“The fans were excellent tonight. When you come (to Red Bull Arena), and you see our fans around the stadium, and we see our fans up top, and we can hear them. Of course, it’s disappointing because I want to fight for those fans. I want to make sure we win these games.”
It should be noted that Cushing was not aware of the violence outside of the stadium at that time.
At a certain point, Major League Soccer might need to consider taking action against both teams for this. NYCFC fans have destroyed seats at RBA during previous matches. RBNY fans, specifically the now-eliminated Garden State Ultras, were punished by MLS during the rivalries’ early years. Some fans have begun calling for an away fan ban for both teams for a year (one game each). However, that won’t necessarily solve any issues. Just like how stopping games for the homophobic chant hasn’t stopped it in major competitions. The change has to come from within the supporter groups themselves.
For their part, both Viking Army and Empire SC seem to be investigating the incidents that happened on Thursday. While Third Rail hasn’t said anything publicly, sources claim the group is identifying members who yelled the chant.
Time will tell if anything else happens. The two teams will meet once again next month in a regular season match.
The Red Bulls won the last meeting in MLS play earlier this year thanks to a Fernandez goal.