#AskRBNN – Have NYCFC replaced D.C. United as RBNY’s biggest rival?

Major League Soccer have been working around the clock to hype the RBNY-NYCFC rivalry as much as possible.

From declaring nearly every meeting between the two to be part of “Rivalry Week” to nationally televising a large percentage of their games, MLS wants to make it clear to soccer fans in the NY-metropolitan area that when the Red Bulls and the Citizens face off, there will be some major fireworks. It’s a lot of work for a rivalry that didn’t even exist prior to a few years ago…

But as any fan of the Red Bulls since at least 2013 will attest, D.C. United is the No. 1 rival in club history – and the gap from one to two isn’t close. Two decades of games (91 in total to be exact) between the MetroStars/Red Bulls and D.C. have made for a litany of (in)famous moments – on and off the field.

Which brings us back to the big topic of the week that was posed to the writers of RBNN.

#AskRBNN – Have NYCFC replaced DC United as the Red Bulls’ biggest rival?

Garry R. – Like some of you, I see this rivalry topic a generational thing. The newer fans see NYCFC as the bigger and more local rival, with all the hype and national television coverage to back it up, while the older fans like myself, still consider D.C. United as THE rival. My only problem: Calling it the “New York Derby.” Look, it’s called the Hudson River Derby for a reason. For one, it’s the largest body of water separating the two sides (NYCFC sits near the Harlem River, RBNY sits next to the Passaic), and second, again geographically speaking, only ONE team plays for New York (in New Jersey), and one plays IN New York.

Joseph Steen – Can a team really be a rival without some history behind it? I mean sure the Hudson River Derby is covered nationally and the fan bases can’t stand each other but I can’t endorse NYCFC just yet as the number 1 rival. With D.C. there’s plenty of history between the two teams as many have pointed out which is why they are still RBNY’s biggest rival.

Joe G. – The league is really forcing out D.C. at this point, and it is a shame. To be fair, D.C. has not held relevance in the league the way they did in the early aughts, and now, it is taking its toll on many facets of their franchise, including the Atlantic Cup. Perhaps with Rooney things will change. Also, take into account newer fans that don’t have proper context of the original rivalry, and it is easy to see why NYCFC is becoming the main rival.

John Perdicaro – No. At the end of the day NYCFC won’t be a rival until we have some sort of history. We’ve had five years with them so far. There’s more history, more bad blood with D.C. than we can ever have with NYCFC. Personally I believe there will be a day when NYCFC becomes a true number 1 rival, it’s just not now.

Kyle Debelak – I would say that it depends on who you ask. D.C. is being left behind as MLS goes into a new age. But NYCFC has only been around since 2015, whereas D.C. has been there from the start of MLS. The older fans of the Red Bulls will still consider D.C. to be the main rival, but it’s perhaps inevitable that NYCFC will become the Red Bulls’ main rival in the future.

Steve Toto – DC is still the historic rival. Eskandarian spitting Red Bull, PK encroachment, then goal to eliminate RBNY from the playoffs, etc. RBNY and DC have flip flopped the Atlantic Cup the last 7 years. Rivalries are built on back-and-forth victories & defeats, especially in knockout matches. All 16 of them. NYCFC and RBNY have not met in the playoffs yet and in their only 2 knockout meetings (USOC), NYCFC has failed to score. RBNY is 8-4-1 in all comps. BWP alone has 11 goals, while the entire NYCFC team has 12 goals in 13 matches. It will take time, but DC still reigns supreme over NYCFC.

Roy Emanuel – In some ways yes, especially when looking at things in a national sense. Fans around the country have seen the hype and had the exposure to the “Hudson River Derby” (cringe at that name). D.C. have lost some of their luster over the past few years, but a new stadium and Wayne Rooney will help. Ultimately, it is a generational question. Metro fans from the 90s will say D.C., but younger fans will say NYCFC. I think the New York rivalry will hit a new level once they meet in the postseason.

Paul Vernick – I would think so. Although it is not a historic rival or a team that necessarily has anything on us, like D.C., NYCFC has supplanted D.C. The so-called Hudson River Derby has national coverage and even created some extra tension on the field. The fans seem to have some bad blood and will continue to become a big time game due to pressure from the Front Offices and MLS.

Tzvi M. – NYCFC have replaced D.C. United. You can see it in the behavior of the club itself, the banter on social media, the on-field results, the media, and even the Tifos. Longtime fans (i.e. everyone else on RBNN) might always see D.C. as the team that caused the Red Bulls & MetroStars so much grief – and that’s fine – but in the history of now, NYCFC are the club that consistently get under the team’s skin and threaten to undermine everything they’ve spent a decade trying to build (in their own market no less).


Final Vote: Of the nine writers polled, the general breakdown was as follows: Yes – 2, No – 3, Unsure – 4

It would appear that the question of whether NYCFC have replaced D.C. United as the Red Bulls’ number one rival is extremely nuanced, even for longtime, hardcore fans. However, there does seem to be a general sense that NYC on the rise as a major rival, and could surpass D.C. at some point in the near future. (Perhaps as early as this year…)

Do YOU think NYCFC have replaced D.C. United as the Red Bulls’ number one rival? Let us know!

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