Even amongst the sizeable soccer-loving population of the tri-state area, the NY/NJ Fizzy-Energy Drinks have failed to seriously dent the local consciousness in their 11 years of operation. Reasons for this include the following but are not limited to :
a) the failure of the media (ahem,non-soccer blogs included) to note the club’s occasional achievements,
b) a pleathora of other sporting attractions competing for the entertainment dollar
c) a thoroughly unsuitable venue, complete with football hashmarks
d) the MLS’ level of play, while unquestionably higher than it was 11 years ago, is rarely of a first division caliber compared to most other domestic leagues
e) a steady diet of La Liga, Serie A, the EPL or Bundesliga on cable or satellite makes point “d” all too obvious
f) the American people still associate soccer with Alexi Lalas and will not support the game until he is dead,
and there’s also “g”, the relative futility of the former Metros throughout their swampy tenure. Save for a conference semi-final appearance in 2000, they’ve been a constant underachiever in the country’s biggest media market. Until now, perhaps.
Yesterday’s 3-0 victory over defending champs Houston catapulted the Fizzies into a conference final with Real Salt Lake, and while being 90 minutes away from the MLS Cup oughta be reason in and of itself for a general audience to sit up and take notice, I’m aware that probably isn’t the case. And if you cannot take vicarious pride in the achievements of the Meadlowlands’ Austrian-bankrolled soccer franchise, perhaps I can appeal to an altogether different sentiment. Revenge.
Former MSG President Dave Checketts brought the RSL expansion franchise to Utah just a few years after Guitar James Dolan elbowed him out of the limosine in New York. Under normal circumstances, this might make the Mormon executive something of a hero around some parts, but amongst numerous black marks on a long, long resume, there’s one executive decision Checketts should never live down in the eyes of New York Knicks fans.
The 2000 trade of C Patrick Ewing to Seattle in exchange for Glen Rice, Luc Longely and Travis Knight — long before Isiah Thomas’ arrival on Broadway — helped commence a period of digging-towards-salary-cap-hell the Knicks have yet to emerge from. Ewing’s expiring pact was shipped to the Sonics for 3 deals that ran for another combined 9 years, with another $90 million still owed to Rice, Longely and Knight. Of course, by the time the full enormity of this franchise-killing error came to bear on most of us, Checketts was long gone, establishing Real Salt Lake, buying the St. Louis Blues, and encouraging Jet Blue employees to sexually harrass innocent passengers.
Maybe you’d sooner gargle with broken glass than watch an MLS game. Perhaps the prospect of seeing the former Metro Stars earn a title just as unlikely as that of the Super Bowl champion Giants means nothing to you. That’s fine, I can accept that. But I cannot accept The East Rutherford XI being eliminated by a club owned by Dave Checketts. If petty grudges and intense prejudice mean as much to you as they do to me, you’re gonna watch the Fizzies throttle Real Salt Lake on television next Saturday, and you might run the risk of being asked to leave a drinking establishment in the process. Let’s Go Fizzies!