Article and photos by Jessica Nieberg
By Kate Pangilinan
Article and Video by Kishan Singh
New Yorkers are used to and thrive on local rivalries – baseball’s Yankees and Mets, the NBA’s Nets and Knicks (however pathetic the Knicks are this season), the NFL’s Giants and Jets (ditto) and, and in the National Hockey League, the Rangers, Islanders and Devils. However, since its inception in 1996, only one soccer team has represented the New York area in Major League Soccer. Originally known as the New York/New Jersey Metro Stars, the team eventually evolved into what is now the New York Red Bulls – even though its home stadium is in Harrison, N.J. When the MLS season starts in March, the Red Bulls will be sharing their territory with the newly formed New York City Football Club.
The teams will meet on May 10, in Harrison.
The new team has already earned a great deal of publicity, because it is jointly owned by the New York Yankees and the renowned Manchester City Football Club, the current English Premier League champion. NYCFC was able to land two of the world’s best-known players, England’s Frank Lampard and Spain’s David Villa.
The Red Bulls are well established. Though the team has never won a major championship, it has a very recognizable brand, Red Bull, since it is partially owned by Red Bull GmbH, the Austrian company that sells the energy drink. This club is and was home to some of the world’s most famous players including Thierry Henry, the French forward who has played at some of Europe’s largest clubs. Currently playing for the Red Bull is Australia’s leading scorer, Tim Cahill, and Bradley Wright-Phillips of England, who led the MLS in scoring last season.
So will NYCFC be able to gain a fan base in what has been Red Bulls territory?
Being in the Bronx will certainly make the team easy to visit. And its big names are sure to help.
“NYCFC is getting Frank Lampard and David Villa, big-name players, to attract a lot of people, and in the New York market you need to get big-name players that people will recognize,” said Brad Hill, an avid Red Bulls supporter.The Lampard deal has been something of an embarrassment for the new team; after a good deal of publicity about Lampard’s arrival, the player said at year-end that he would finish the English season with Manchester City and join NYCFC only then, in June, not for the season’s start, as anticipated.
“I feel like the Red Bulls are more of a New Jersey-based club; a lot of the fans seems to be from there.”
Paul Brooks, a former player for the New England Revolution and coach at New York Soccer Club, said, “Logistically, it is easier to be a NYCFC fan; they are signing some big-name players, but I just hope that they will reach out to the local product of players, and mix them in with the high-profile professionals.”
Will the two star players be enough?
The MLS has a salary cap that limits a team’s total salary, the idea being to keep wealthier teams from outspending the less wealthy. “MLS is tough,” said Jason Puckett, a devoted Red Bull supporter. “You can only have three players above the salary threshold, so you can’t come in and buy the MLS championship.”
Many neighborhoods shimmer with Christmas lights strung on their homes. In Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, the decorated homes lead to crowded sidewalks, traffic jams and buses of tourists. Here’s a glimpse of Christmas season in Dyker Heights.
Article and Photographs by Melissa Jones
By Jason Javaherian, Emma Kazaryan, Milena Kozlowska and Rebecca Ungarino
At Kebeer Draft Bar and Grill in Brighton Beach, in the heart of Brooklyn’s Russian community, every television was tuned to the XXII Olympic Winter Games hosted in Sochi, Russia on a recent Sunday evening.
Notwithstanding that men’s cross-country skiing—not a popular spectator sport—was the focus of the evening’s telecast, enthusiasm for the games appeared scant. Patrons at Kebeer, which is at the intersection of Brighton Beach and Coney Island avenues, glanced briefly at the screens to catch results, only to quickly return to their conversations.
“Russia did not need these games,” said Sergey Zinoviev, who was standing at the bar with several friends, alluding to the estimated $51 billion cost of the Sochi games, more than seven times the cost of the winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, four years ago, and larger than the $44 billion of the 2008 Beijing summer games, the next most expensive. “I think they could have spent money on more important things, like schools.”
Zinoviev, a banker, said he is not indifferent toward his native Russia. “Every time I watch the games I feel proud for Russia, especially when our sportsmen are winning,” conceded Zinoviev with a smile.
“I don’t cheer for Russia,” said Igor Galiakhmetov, 60, an owner of a Brooklyn moving company. “I cheer for good sportsmen.”
For Galiakhmetov, who moved to New York 14 years ago with his family from Novorossiysk, a port city on the Black Sea, 176 miles from Sochi, the distrust he feels for the regime of Valdimir Putin, who has ruled Russia as either president or prime minister since 2000, colors his view of the Olympics. “Knowing the Russian government, I am pretty sure that after the Olympic games, the region as well as the newly built infrastructure, will be abandoned,” he added.
As Russian émigrés follow the Sochi games from their new homes in New York, they are experiencing divided loyalties to two countries—the Russia they left behind and their adopted U.S. For many émigrés, whether they fled the former Soviet Union or Putin’s Russia, their view of the Olympics is colored by the corruption they associate with both regimes.
“Many people come to cheer for the U.S. rather than Russia,” said Rassul Massimov, an employee at Kebeer and a student at ASA College who is from Kazakhstan, which was part of the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991.
“We are American and are rooting for America!” agreed Matwiej Dommith, 85, also of Brighton Beach via the U.S.S.R, who has been a U.S. citizen for 20 years and has grandchildren born and raised here.
Meanwhile, on Staten Island, at the NetCost Market, on Amboy Road in the Richmondtown neighborhood, the sentiments toward the Olympics were much the same.
“I am rooting for Russia, Estonia and America, but mostly for America because they are my home,” said Igor Shurygin, who was stocking the shelves at the store, which is part of a chain popular among the community’s Russian, Estonian and Ukrainian residents; the store carries traditional Eastern European specialties, such as pierogi (potato or cheese dumplings), plov (a hearty rice dish), and kotlety (breaded meat cutlets). Shurygin, who moved to Staten Island two years ago from his native Estonia, said that when he was not working he watched the Olympic games at home, and especially enjoyed the snowboarding competitions.
Rachel Mickley moved to New York from Ukraine nearly 38 years ago and said that she, her children and U.S.-born grandchildren were all rooting for the United States. Mickley said she watched the Olympics on Channel One whenever she gets the chance; Channel One Russia, the Russian Federation’s first television channel, is available via local cable companies.
“My husband and I, we don’t want Russia to win medals,” said Ella Pil, a 39-year-old barber in the Floral Park neighborhood.
“The Olympics are a show for Putin and his friends,” said Pil, who came to the U.S. in 1994 from Uzbekistan, and reflected the animosity that many residents of former Soviet satellite countries still feel toward Russia.