This is the 17th part of a series in which we introduce Orlando City fans to the teams our Lions will be facing in 2015 when the team starts play in Major League Soccer. Today we take a look at our fellow expansioneers, NYCFC.
Telling us about NYCFC today is Rafael Noboa y Rivera from SB Nation’s other new MLS blog, Hudson River Blue. Before their move to SB Nation in December, you can find them here on the web and you can follow them on Twitter.
What are the three most important things Orlando City fans need to know about NYCFC?
Rafael Noboa y Rivera: That’s a great question! The answer goes back to the very origins of Major League Soccer. MLS has always wanted two teams in New York.
When the original list of seven teams was announced in 1994, there were actually two teams in the New York area: one in New Jersey and one in New York. The other five, you ask? Boston, Columbus, LA, San Jose, and DC. After the 1994 World Cup, MLS chose to delay its launch until 1996, and its New York team had its debut delayed until 1998.
As it turns out, that never happened, and the New York team was instead awarded to Chicago. The New Jersey team ended up becoming the New York/New Jersey MetroStars; you know them as the Red Bulls. And now they’ve been joined by New York City FC. It took us 20 years, but we’re finally here.
So that’s the first thing. The second thing: despite being one of the newest teams in the league, we embody history and tradition. Our badge is inspired by the historic New York Subway token; the linked letters in our monogram evoke the rich sports history of the city. And we play in Yankee Stadium; while the stadium may not be the exact House that Ruth Built, it’s every bit a noteworthy stadium. And now we’re looking to build on that history and make our own—and lots of it.
The third thing: we’re not Diet Manchester City. We are our own club, looking to make our own mark. That’s reflected in our front office, which features former USMNT captain (and New York legend) Claudio Reyna; and our coach, Jason Kreis, who distinguished himself at Real Salt Lake, and looks to bring that same spirit to New York City. The only thing we share with Manchester City is an owner.
What nicknames, chants and slang have developed for your NYCFC so far (if any)?
RNR: Unlike other groups, our supporters groups are choosing to eschew organized, capo-led songs and chants in favor of a more organic approach, preferring to let those songs and chants rise up from the crowd.
We’ll see if that approach sticks once we start playing games, but it’s going to be different.
What are the can’t-miss things for visiting Orlando City fans traveling to an NYCFC game?
RNR: First, welcome to the Five Boroughs! It’s America’s biggest city; if you can’t find it here, you probably can’t find it anywhere. I’m serious: NYC has something for everyone. A few suggestions, though:
- First, stay away from Times Square. The only people who go there are tourists, it’s expensive as hell, and there’s nowhere good to eat around there.
- Do you like books? Visit the Strand; it’s one of the largest bookstores in the country, with 18 miles of shelving.
- Do you like the outdoors? Central Park is going to be your jam. it’s the most-visited urban park in the country, and at 843 acres, it’s simply massive.
- Do you like eating? There’s way, way, way too many options to list here. Suffice it to say that every chef worth their salt will have an establishment here.
- Museums? We have them: the Guggenheim, MoMA, you name it.
As far as pre-game-time experience goes, we play at Yankee Stadium in the South Bronx. We’re looking forward to see what kind of pre-game activities come about, particularly tailgating. One thing worth noting: if you have fans visiting who are under 21, we actually have an under-21 supporters’ group (the Cookie Brigade), who get together and do activities appropriate for that crew.
How does the NYCFC roster stack up so far?
RNR: We’ve got two designated players that you’ve probably heard about: David Villa, who’s the all-time leading scorer for the Spanish national team, and Frank Lampard, the former Chelsea legend, who holds the all-time record for goals scored by a midfielder in the Premier League (and is Chelsea’s all-time leading scorer).
We’ve also signed four other players:
- Josh Saunders, the former LA Galaxy goalkeeper;
- Andrew Jacobson, a former FC Dallas midfielder;
- Kwame Watson-Siriboe, a former Real Salt Lake defender;
- Jeb Brovsky, a former Montreal Impact defender.
As it stands, this is a pretty veteran roster (the average age is 30.5), and it’s also a championship-laden roster, obviously, with Villa and Lampard, but Saunders has a pair of MLS Cups as well. It’s pretty clear that Reyna and Kreis are crafting a roster designed to compete for trophies right from the beginning.
How do you think the club will approach the Expansion Draft, Superdraft and additional DPs?
RNR: Great question. Kreis has made it clear that they’ll be looking hard at the Expansion Draft; he feels that there’s going to be some real talent there for the taking, and he plans to capitalize on that.
We also snagged the #1 spot in the Allocation Order, and from everything I’ve heard and read, our third designated player is potentially going to be either a returning MLS player or a member of the USMNT. I don’t think that’s going to be Mix Diskerud, for a number of reasons. Instead, I think you might see someone like Alejandro Bedoya, who can provide cover for a 37-year-old Lampard.
As for the SuperDraft: Kreis has already traded three of our picks in the 2016 SuperDraft (for Jacobson, Watson-Siriboe, and Brovsky), so it looks like that might not be a route that’s prioritized.
That said, between Reyna and Kreis, we have people who are very familiar with the league and its various player acquisition mechanisms, so I think there’s a very well-conceived strategy in place.
We thank Rafael for his knowledge bombs about NYCFC. It looks like that franchise is building in a much different way than Orlando City, and it will be interesting to see which approach works better, if either.
Previous “Meet Our New Foes”:
Columbus Crew SC
New England Revolution
New York Red Bulls
Real Salt Lake
Sporting Kansas City