Going to the Draft: An Odd Yet Enlightening Experience

Early in the morning on the January 15, a few hardcore fans from across the Metro area awoke to travel down to Philadelphia, hosts of the MLS SuperDraft for the second year in a row. Obviously the past few weeks have been very confusing for Red Bulls fans given the firing of Mike Petke and the ensuing reaction of many of the fans. Many of us were unsure what the reaction would be, given the knowledge that this would be the first time that Ali Curtis would have to face his fanbase in person. Surprisingly, supporters from across the league did not turn out in force as they did the year before, instead only attending in force from the Red Bulls, New York City, Orlando City, and the Union.

Unlike the atmosphere of the draft in the past, there was little back and forth between the supporters groups, with the Sons of Ben, Iron Lions, and Third Rail remaining quiet for most of the draft. Viking Army and Empire Supporters Club did remain in full voice for the entirety of the draft, however, the chants of the supporters were not focused on the other supporters groups, but instead on the topic of the day, the new Supporter’s movement, #RedBullOut.

It all began when a Philadelphia supporter pointed out to the reserved section for the Red Bulls that Ali Curtis had made his way to the FC Dallas table, closest to the supporters sections. After completing “The Twelve Days of Garber”, the Red Bulls section changed their tune to “Trade yourself Ali, trade yourself”, among other songs criticising Ali for his decision to fire Mike Petke.

This reaction from the fans to the sight of Curtis ahead of the Town Hall to discuss his decision was unsurprising to everyone, except, apparently, Curtis himself. Seemingly shaken by the chants, Curtis turned to the section while making his way back to the Red Bulls table and gave a look that said “I see how it is”.

This made clear one thing; Curtis had no idea the extent of the fan reaction to his decision prior to the SuperDraft. To add to his ignorance about the fan reaction, Curtis’ Twitter has been activated but dormant since he joined the team no doubt with an inbox full to the brim with angry messages from fans of Mike Petke.

In terms of the actual results of the draft, the Red Bulls had a very successful day. Leo Stolz, the German youth international and 1860 Munich product was drafted by the Red Bulls from UCLA in the first round. Highly touted by the league as one of the top picks of the draft, the 2014 Hermann trophy winner reportedly wanted to come to New York, and was only willing to participate in the draft if he was selected by the club.

This means that the Red Bulls have a high degree of desirability, higher than that even of the German clubs also interested in Stolz. The fact that the Red Bulls are still a club that players look to join is a small bright spot in a dark period for the Metro, something that the Red Bulls fans need, and should focus on.


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