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FIVE THINGS: Our proposed solutions to New York soccer's ultra problems

In light of Sunday's pre-derby brawl in the Dirty Jerz, Hudson River Blue proposes EXACTLY how to ease tensions between New York's most ratchet-y soccer fans.

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New York is red, right? Just ask Stephen Sondheim!
New York is red, right? Just ask Stephen Sondheim!
Joerg Koch/Getty Images

Outside Bello's Pub and Grill at 376 Market Street in Newark, a bunch of ultras got ultra.

Noted Harris, a UK-based reporter for the Associated Press:

"It's some time since I've had to avoid flying glass bottles at football."

I know, Rob, and that's a damned shame. Unfortunately, the burgeoning (or metastasizing) pro soccer environment in New York is nothing less than a dark night of the soul for the American game. Yes, it's downright odious that pub banter would ever give way to violence, but anyone following the steady expansion of Ultra Culture (TM) around the metropolitan area couldn't have been the least bit surprised.

For what it's worth, the owner of the pub in question blames the pro-NYCFC contingent for instigating the violence.

Our friends at Empire of Soccer have provided the most frequent coverage of the worst goings-on in UltraLand, having first reported on various unsavory songs and chants at Yankee Stadium -- which multiple anonymous sources identified to have come from fans dressed in all-black -- as early as April 3rd, less than one month into the MLS campaign.

Of course, the Red Bulls have their own all-blacks, the Garden State Ultras, one of the three main groups populating Red Bull Arena's South Ward. Compared to their blue counterparts, GSU boasts vastly greater numbers (for now), a more readily traceable history, and a similar reputation for rough-and-tumble expressions of fandom. At the second Hudson Derby of the year, in which the Red Bulls negotiated a 3-1 win at Yankee Stadium on June 28th, the GSU engaged in some very public shoving and saber-rattling outside the Dugout, a popular pre-game hangout spot for many NYCFC fan groups, most notably the Brown Bag Social Club.

According to numerous reports from around the ground, Sunday's incident in Newark was said to be in response to the show of force outside the Dugout.

So, where does it end? If ultra culture is anything like the Cold War -- and it often seems quite like that, a mix of violence and threats and hearsay and proxy wars and loaded rhetoric -- the inevitable destination, following steady escalations of force, is mutual assured destruction.

(If not by the groups themselves, then by MLS, which has shown little favor toward those fan bases which glorify such elements: as I entered Red Bull Arena on Sunday, tons of non-ultra NYCFC fans gleefully chanted the name of one of the pro-Blues ultra groups in a show of support for their actions in Newark.)

Well, folks, Hudson River Blue is here with five bold solutions to New York soccer's "ultra problem." Wanna wear all-black to a game? Hey, that alone is no crime. Not at all. Our recommendations seek only to address the violence and the repeated reports of unusually abusive rhetoric.

Let's get to it!


(I) Just beat the piss out of each other in the street and get it over with.

With all the talk of ultras and hooligans in the greater conversation of best practices in supporting one's team, the most direct solution involves pure-distilled hooliganism itself.

We don't endorse violence of any kind at Hudson River Blue, but if these incidents are going to continue anyway, the parties involved may as well go full-on with it, get it out of their system, and re-group with the clearest of minds and the fullest of hearts (save for those that would need infusions of blood post-brawl; their hearts could not be full by definition).

(II) An intervention on The Steve Wilkos Show.

There is no better potential Ultras Caseworker than Steve Wilkos, for three reasons:

  • He's a former U.S. Marine and Chicago cop.
  • He often wears all-black.
  • He's a big dude. Like, he could lay Chris Christie OUT, probably, which is f---ing crazy to think about.

Sometimes, tough love is the only kind of love you need.

Maybe the studio crowd can help develop a few new chants, too!

(III) The West Side Story method.

It's a scientific fact that the Sharks and the Jets were the first ultras in the history of America and probably the world. This ain't no hockey match between San Jose and Winnipeg: these cats hated each other on Shakespearean levels, and they fought. Hooooooo boy, did they fight:

How would this not be a good idea? See, the Sharks and the Jets didn't have Facebook or Reddit or LiveJournal or Stormfront or any hub for endless digital proxy wars. They let their choreography do the talking! They didn't punch sandwich boards -- BRUH! F--- YOUR SANDWICH BOARD! -- or throw garbage bags. No, they threw buckets of paint, which is far more creative and demonstrative.

Just a thought.

(IV) Thunderdome!!!

Aha! I thought that might be more your speed.

For those with no favor toward the Sondheim & Bernstein School of Gang Wars, we propose a more direct solution.

You know Mel Gibson is an ultra.

Again, Hudson River Blue is not advocating for more violence. But at least the Thunderdome, much like the similarly popular Hell-in-a-Cell template, contains the fracas and allows it to be properly administered and adjudicated.

Two groups enter, one group leaves. Because America.

It's the oldest test of mettle in human history. And in this iteration, we finally get to figure out who rules BartertownBesides D-Garbz, of course.


(V) Just watch the damn football.

Watch it!

I mean, how complicated is that?