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Even in New York, Melbourne City's signing of Tim Cahill matters.

City Football Group isn't dissing Red Bull; they scarcely acknowledge that Red Bull even exists.

A couple of former MetroStars that look better in Blue.
A couple of former MetroStars that look better in Blue.
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

When Juventus ironman Alessandro Del Piero famously snubbed the likes of Liverpool to sign for Sydney FC of Australia's tenderfoot A-League in 2012, the reverberations across world football were very, very real. It was, far and away, the biggest and most consequential signing in the league's brief history.

Until this week, of course, when this happened:

Folks, Tim Cahill is Australian. He's transferring to an Australian club for a record sum. He's also one of the biggest stars ever to suit up for the New York Red Bulls.

And he just completed his medical here in the concrete jungle at NYCFC headquarters, took a beaming selfie with NYCFC's marquee stars, and has been shouting out all three CFG-affiliated Twitter accounts like mad all week.

So, then:

Doesn't Cahill look really happy in that now-infamous selfie? Think about that.

And isn't it true that Cahill rarely wore such an expression during his problematic tenure with MLS's New Jersey side, especially after it took a turn for the worse over the course of 2014? Think about that, too.

Let's be clear-- I don't believe that any aspect of the Cahill-to-City story is meant to be some kind of overt middle finger to the Red Bull family. There's no evidence to suggest such a thing. In fact, the message City Football Group is sending to Red Bull stabs much deeper than the common sniping endemic to sporting rivalries.

The message is this:

  1. This is our world.
  2. You have no choice other than to live in it.
  3. Whatever you have done or will do is utterly irrelevant to what we're building.
Again, I don't sense any active spite here. Not even from Cahill, which is interesting-- did this guy, who is quite active on multiple social media channels, even utter a peep along the lines of "great to be back in New York!" when he swooped in for his medical? The answer is no, because he was too busy yukking it up and having a ball with the three most popular soccer figures in the New York metropolitan area, none of whom wear red. The implications of Cahill's signing at Melbourne City, then, despite all the sweeping dismissals coming from Red Bull Twitter, can best be described by that killer elevator scene on Mad Men, when young Michael Ginsberg attempts to confront the redoubtable Don Draper about his ruthless business practices:

GINSBERG: I feel bad for you.

DRAPER: I don't think about you at all.

The story gets better, too: the third and final year of Cahill's contract designates that he will begin the transition from player to coach. This isn't just another stop on the world tour. This ain't Shanghai Shenhua. No, this Socceroo is all-in for City.

Is the former Red Bull star man destined to follow in the footsteps of one of City's true legends?


Hmm. Strange world, this.