This team. This fucking team. I’ve been supporting this club since 2006, and if you told me at the beginning of this season that my New York Red Bulls would win the 2013 Supporters’ Shield, I might beat you senseless before realizing there may actually be a chance of that happening. Though it didn’t look like it at times. Roy Miller’s late antics cost us our first road game in San Jose; Going down 3-0 away in Philly; Losing to fucking Chivas USA. The Curse of Caricola looked like looming over us yet again. But this team turned this season into something special.
In October 5 game against New England, what looked like a 1-0 victory almost became a frustrating 1-2 loss, complete with bad calls and nightmare defending. I was in the stands for that game. After watching defeat snatched out of the jaws of victory, I let out a painful “That’s so Metro!” But it wasn’t Metro – at least that kind of Metro. Tim Cahill nodded the equalizer past the Revs at the death to salvage a result. I was 20-odd feet away from the corner flag he boxed in celebration. This was a new Metro. A Metro marked by character-revealing performances. Late game comebacks. Defensive heroics. Truly remarkable goals. And after so many player who didn’t seem to care, we finally have a group of guys willing to put in all on the field for the sake of this team. Not a groups of individuals – a team. And when it came down to the last game of the season, with our first major trophy on the line, we got the job done.
The game could’ve gone full Caricola. As if it were a Greek tragedy, former Metro Mike Magee put the early dagger in the hearts of New York faithful. But the Red Bulls came running and stomped out the Fire.
Thierry Henry – my lord, Thierry Henry – with a vintage Arsenal barnstormer of an equalizer. Then who else but “Captain Clutch” Tim Cahill to put us in front and on our way to a big boy trophy? Lloyd Sam curling in a beauty to make sure our victory wasn’t a fluke. Eric Alexander with a ruthless finish to put the game beyond all doubt. And Jonny Steele on the end of an Henry cross to complete the rout. Dax McCarty and Man-of-the-Match Peguy Luyindula put on an imperious display in the midfield, the latter racking up 3 assists on the night. Robles coming up huge when Chicago put the pressure on. And plaudits the rest of the team, who did their work in outplaying the Fire in every aspect of the game.
And Mike Petke. What else can I say about Mike Petke? If it wasn’t for Caleb Porter’s stunning work in Portland, my man Petke would make this year’s Manager of the Year voting a no-brainer. The New York native and longtime Metro, who got the reins of the team just 3 seasons after retiring from the game, deserves every accolade for this season’s success.
Thank you, Mike Petke. You did what no other manager could do at this club. You brought this squad together. You brought this team together with its supporters. You got rid of the team’s dead weight during the season! Were you the most illustrious choice for manager? No. Were you the right choice? Absolutely. In Petke We Trust. Vamos Red Bulls! Let’s go for that MLS Cup, ‘cuz now they’ll give it to us on our front porch.