Even before NYCFC celebrated winning the Eastern Conference at Subaru Park after being a Covid-19 depleted Philadelphia Union team, it felt like the other team from the New York market was becoming a bigger rival.
But after NYCFC went on to win MLS Cup in a penalty shootout against the Portland Timbers it feels like winning on Saturday at Yankee Stadium matters even more.
Since the Union came into the league in 2010, the New York Red Bulls have been the team that Union fans have loved to hate, even with Red Bulls fans insisting that they don’t see the two teams as rivals. The proximity of the Red Bulls playing a state over with interstate highway connecting the two stadiums lends itself to natural animosity between fanbases but NYCFC seems to have reached a new level with an MLS Cup under their belt (and on a tiny banner in Yankee Stadium).
I would argue that NYCFC is the Union’s biggest rivalry right now in the sense that they are one of the top teams in the league and a team the Union will likely need to get through again to make an MLS Cup final. They also play in a baseball stadium that’s fun to poke fun at and the games between the two teams are usually both competitive and chippy. Taty Castellanos is the best and most annoying striker in the league to play against with a propensity to simulation.
When Jose Martinez was sent off early in the first meeting between the teams last season, Union fans were torn between being upset about Martinez getting sent off and happy someone took out the frustrations shared by fans on Taty.
While the first meeting ended up being a short-handed loss, the Union played one of their best games of the season the second time the teams met at Subaru Park last season. It’s not the first time the Union has saved some of their best soccer for NYCFC (their 2018 win at home was maybe their best game of the season).
Yankee Stadium doesn’t lend itself to pretty games but a gritty win for the Union on Saturday would put them at 10 points already on the young season and would also be the first at Yankee Stadium.
Is NYCFC the Union’s biggest rival?
This poll is closed
Maybe not the biggest, but top 3