New York Red Bulls vs New York City FC on May 21, 2016 had the potential to push RBNY off course. The season had started badly for the Red Bulls and it had only recently steadied itself, but it also hadn’t yet won a road game. NYCFC meanwhile seemed to be enjoying its second year in MLS. In the new neighbors’ rented stadium for the first time in 2016, it seemed inevitable RBNY would be second best.
Because RBNY had been second best to a lot of teams on its travels so far that season. Because NYCFC was in good form. Because all good things come to an end and this felt like a day for the good thing that was the Red Bulls’ dominance of their pale-blue neighbor to come to an end.
But it wasn’t. By the end of 90 minutes, RBNY had burned the grass and scorched the earth at Yankee Stadium.
It was a drab day to start. An overcast early afternoon at the big ballpark in the Bronx. The threat of rain was the biggest concern until it started raining goals. Dax McCarty started it off in the third minute - just a light sprinkle. Then came the thunder: a Bradley Wright-Phillips brace in the closing minutes of the first half.
NYCFC took shelter in half-time, but walked out into the height of the storm: McCarty and Alex Muyl scoring within the first 10 minutes of the re-start. And then, just when it seemed safe, Gonzalo Veron and Gideon Baah splashed in two more goals.
Every time I watch those highlights, every time I see Captain Dax scoring goals and urging the team on for more, I remember the comment from Fox Sports Analyst Alexi Lalas: “I love seeing red heads having success, but that was disgraceful.”
It was disgraceful and magnificent and a moment to live forever in the hearts and minds of RBNY fans and players.
A curious coincidence: there was another Seven-Up that summer - Chile put seven past Mexico in Copa America Centenario. Fox Sports announcer John Strong called both games.
Maybe he’ll call one of the four matches RBNY has against NYCFC this season: three in the MLS regular season and the 2017 opener for the newest New York soccer rivalry - the fourth round of this year’s US Open Cup. Maybe we’ll have some new memories to smile about, a new special date for RBNY fans.
Until then, we’ll always have May 21.