Starting in 1998, the team stopped referring to itself as New York/New Jersey, but it took a few years for the media and fans to catch up. The team went by just MetroStars, with no city, state, or regional geographic name attached to it, a rarity in American sports.
The MetroStars bottomed out in 1999 with a record of 7–25 under former U.S. national team coach Bora Milutinović, the worst record in MLS history. Hoping to light a spark under the floundering club in 2000, the MetroStars dropped a bombshell by acquiring German international player Lothar Matthäus from Bayern Munich. Matthäus played in only 16 MLS games during the season and his tenure in the U.S. is considered a disappointment. The team did, however, leap from dead last to the conference title.
When the league began play in 1996, it was expected that the MetroStars would quickly become the league’s dominant team. This expectation never materialized. Despite famous players and high-profile coach, the team never seemed to click together. The team’s first home game against the New England Revolution proved to be a harbinger of things to come. Former Juventus defender Nicola Caricola inadvertently flipped a cross into his own net in the dying minutes to hand New England a 1–0 win in front of 46,000 fans.
The resulting play would later be dubbed the “Curse of Caricola” by fans to explain the team’s inability to come through with a domestic trophy in their history. Firmani left after eight games (3–5) and was replaced by former Portugal coach Carlos Queiróz, who did no better than even (12–12) the rest of the season. The team made it into the playoffs, only to lose to eventual champions D.C. United.
1996 – Present / Major League Soccer
2006 – Present / New York Red Bulls
1998 – 2005 / MetroStars
1996 – 1997 / New York/New Jersey MetroStars
MetroStars – The club’s original name was Empire Soccer Club, which gave birth to the name of the team’s largest supporters’ group, Empire Supporters Club. The team’s original owners were John Kluge and Stuart Subotnick. The name MetroStars was chosen in reference to Metromedia, the media company founded by Kluge, after Nike’s original suggestion “MetroFlash” was rejected. The owners also considered but rejected buying the rights to the name “Cosmos.”
MLS Cups 0
2010 – Present / Red Bull Arena
1996 – 2009 / Giants Stadium
2006 – Present / Red Bull GmbH
2001 – 2006 / Anschutz Entertainment Group
1995 – 2001 / John Kluge and Stuart Subotnick
*Blue is this team’s history