Terrence Boyd moved Bundesligas in the offseason, leaving Germany's Borussia Dortmund for Austria's Rapid Vienna. Familiar to most MLS fans as the home of the other Red Bulls, Salzburg, it's a league that doesn't get a lot of coverage in the US. A strong showing from Boyd could change that, and his opportunity comes with the league's biggest club.
Why Are We Here?
US international Terrence Boyd might have been on the books of the Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund, but he was playing his soccer with their reserve team in the Regionalliga West. Needing a higher level of competition, a move to another club was in order. That turned out to include moving leagues as well. It's worth noting that one of Rapid Vienna's heroes is US National Team assistant coach Andreas Herzog.
And Where Are We?
Vienna, or Wien as the people who actually live there call it, the capital of Austria. The City of Music has close to 2.5 million people in its metropolitan area, and the two most successful teams in the Bundesliga. Rapid Vienna's perennial rival is Austria Vienna, with Rapid's base in the west of the city and Austria's in the south. With that large of a population, the two clubs both play in stadiums that hold less than 18,000. The cliché of Vienna is that the populace prefers life in the cafes reading newspapers attached to sticks and drinking very good coffee.
And The Club?
Sportklub Rapid Wien dates from 1899 and has won the league title 32 times. That's nine more than Austria Vienna, though neither club have finished first since 2007-08. That's simply not good enough in the capital, with both teams looking to regain prominence at the expense of new power Red Bull Salzburg. Rapid Vienna and Austria Vienna finished 2nd and 3rd last season. As far as European honors go, Rapid were runners-up in the old Cup Winners' Cup in 1985 and 1996.
How Tough Is The Austrian Bundesliga?
The tipp3-Bundesliga powered by T-Mobile is a ten-club league so it's significantly smaller than the average European topflight. That means more games, with each team playing the other four times each season. It's a competitive league, but with only one Champions League spot it's also titled towards the title winner in a way the bigger European leagues aren't. Even the Austrian champion only makes the second qualifying round of the Champions League, with 2nd and 3rd entering the Europa League in the qualifying stages. The new problem in Austria is the disparity between Red Bill Salzburg and everybody else. Their version of Red Bull Arena is bigger than the one in Harrison, NJ but the expectations that they are the club that will spend on players is the same as their New York counterparts. Right now, the league is about beating Red Bulls.
That would be the Gerhard Hanappo Stadium in Penzing, the 14th district of Vienna. It holds 18,500 and wouldn't look out of place as an MLS venue. It's also the bigger club stadium in Vienna, with Austria Vienna's Franz Horr Stadium holding just under 11,000. Rapid's stadium is the second largest in the Bundesliga, with Red Bull Arena holding 31,000.