By Evan Ream
After 16 years of bad signings, atrocious marketing and general futility, the Empire Supporters Club will stop at nothing to give New York the best home field advantage possible.
Nothing is off limits for this group, just as long as it helps the Red Bulls. Within five minutes of being at their pre-game bar, El Pastor in New Jersey, I already heard not only jokes about Kurt Cobain, but also about where Seattle (their opponent) takes “it” (not somewhere very pleasant to say the least).
Some commentators like Glenn Davis have called this and New York’s support groups “classless” for their chants, the “US Reject!” directed at Brian Ching in particular.
It’s not that the ESC crosses the line; it’s that they collectively don’t have one. To paraphrase the great Joey Tribbiani, the line is a dot to them.
The ESC prefers not to sing before, after or during halftime of their games, instead conserving their energy for the game in order to give RBNY what they need: an advantage of any kind. Multiple members referred to the support of their club as their job.
Like typical New Yorkers, the group is very outspoken. Two members behind us repeatedly referred to Kenny Cooper, then the second-leading goalscorer in the league as, “that cocksucker number 33,” every time he messed up a chance. But this understates the ESC’s love for their club.
It was a hot day when we went, over 100 degrees. The ESC told us to not expect their best crowd for the game. If that wasn’t the most vulgar, vile and unforgiving crowd that they could produce, then I am scared to see what is.
But that isn’t to say that the people weren’t incredibly welcoming and nice individually. They welcomed me (a DC United fan) into their ranks and treated me as one of their own, even giving me a shirt and a bottle opener free of charge.
That, and the pre-game sangria, was just icing on the cake to a memorable afternoon, in terrible weather, where I was swayed to sympathize for Red Bulls fans, based on their passion, pride and the sheer veracity of their chants; singing for 90 minutes, and never quitting on their team – or, more specifically, their job.