LOS ANGELES -- When he joined the New York Red Bulls from the England's Aston Villa in 2007,
"The worst pro team in America," I had written back in 1999 of the MetroStars, as the franchise was then known. The RotMasters, as they were called by
New York will meet the Columbus Crew in MLS Cup 2008 here on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC and TeleFutura). And now that the Red Bulls are one game away from winning the MLS championship -- a sentence I can't believe I just wrote -- I asked Ángel at the team hotel on Thursday night how much he knew about the team's sad-sack past before he signed on.
"When Red Bull first contacted me, I started to make inquiries, but I never knew anything about the history of this franchise until I got here," said Ángel, New York's classy Colombian striker. "Then I started to get to know that it had never been successful, all the stories that everyone knows."
They're hilarious stories of ineptitude, on and off the field, 12 seasons of Epic Fail. And they started with the franchise's very first game, in which MetroStar
Then there was the signing of midfielder
New York was able to sign big-name players, but those didn't work out very well either.
Brazilian World Cup winner
Things got so bad in '99 that
Those kinds of stories are more than a little uncomfortable -- I got to interview then-GM
I'll be thinking about those guys on Sunday as their beloved team tries to win its first trophy in club history. It won't be easy, not with league MVP and
Even Ángel wants to use New York's sordid past as a positive. "For me it was kind of a personal challenge," he says. "New York is a place where only the winners are accepted. That is the most exciting thing right now, that we are making history. For the first time we managed to win the conference cup. And who knows what might happen on Sunday?"
If the Red Bulls can pull off the win, all those great old stories of woe might finally have to go into mothballs.