Monday, December 1, 2014

On Hiatus

I'm going to put this blog on hiatus for a while. I'm spending more and more time working on Third Rail projects, and that means less and less time for this blog.

You can catch my writing over on our website. I'll post here from time to time, when I have my own things to say, not appropriate coming from the group.

It's been my honor to be the first blogger dedicated to NYCFC, and I will continue with it. Just not with the frequency I have to this point.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

My Take on the NYCFC Jersey

Okay, in the days since New York City FC unveiled its shirt, a lot of digital ink has been spilled reviewing them. I'm not immune, so here's my take.

On the whole, I like it.

A lot.

I love the color. I know there are some who were hoping for navy blue, or were fooled by the teaser images into thinking that it would be black, but there's never been any doubt in my mind that the home shirt was going to be sky blue.

Sky blue is a bright color, a vibrant color, but more importantly it's a color not used by any professional clubs in New York City. We can own it, make it ours. When you see footage on television of hundreds of cheering fans wearing sky blue, there won't be any confusion as to whom you're seeing.

Even as an Arsenal fan, I don't mind that the color scheme is associated with Man City. Nor do I mind that it is reminiscent of Man City shirts of the past few years; they were obviously going for a timeless, clean look (well, as clean as you can get with those Adidas stripes, in any case). Nike has done a great job doing just that for Manchester in recent seasons, and there's bound to be some overlap. They went with white accents, which Nike used a couple seasons ago. Had they used blue, then that would be too close to the current MCFC kit. Orange? Interesting; the club never uses orange and sky blue next to each other. The orange is always bordered by navy, as seen in the crest. I don't know if that is a hard-and-fast rule, or just the way their designs have happened to work out, but I've noticed the pattern.

Of course, this being the 21st Century, there are Easter Eggs and small details, to which the club helpfully provided a map.

I love the Inaugural Season logo, designed by Matthew Wolff.

That's already made its way to tshirts; I'm sure we'll be seeing lots more of it for the next year.

I also like the new MLS numbers.

(Photo credit: The Third Rail)

It's the same number font used for the past few seasons, with the old "boot-and-ball" logo swapped out for the new MLS shield and diagonal lines representing the "MLS Next" slash.

Speaking of the new logo, I also like putting them on both sleeves. The flag patches never looked right to me, given the different international commitments of so many players.

Keeping the league logo in each club's color palette also looks good to my eye, especially with a relatively clean shirt like this one. It doesn't have the four extra colors muddying it up, instead it's streamlined with the NYCFC's signature double-blues.

Which leads me to the one element that I really don't like: the sponsor.

I wrote back in March that Etihad was going to be the sponsor, and that it wouldn't make any sense. I stand by that today; it makes slightly more sense for Etihad to sponsor NYCFC than it does to be the "official airline partner" of the league. At least they actually fly out of New York, which can't be said of most MLS cities. But my problem with the sponsor runs deeper than that; the sponsor logo is by design the most prominent element of the shirt, and this is where they're inviting comparisons to Manchester City.

Had they signed a deal with another corporate sponsor such as Nissan, their "Official Electric Vehicle Partner", they would have killed the "Jr. Man City" meme in its tracks. Nissan is a brand with ties to this city, as they manufacture the "Taxis of Tomorrow" now taking the streets.

This one little change could have made all the difference:

Now obviously, I understand the ownership issues at play. But this move strikes me as unfortunately tone-deaf, a rare instance where policy is being set in London, not New York.

Still, I take a long view on these matters. I'll be a fan well after the Yankees get bored and sell their piece of the club, and after City Football Group decides to put its money elsewhere and sells their stake. Given that, I can look beyond the unfortunate sponsor. Which leaves us with a classic shirt, befitting our club in their inaugural season.

Now I can't wait to see the road kit.

(Photo credits: NYCFC, unless otherwise noted)

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Jersey is Here!

I was in attendance for the unveiling of NYCFC's first home kit yesterday. The event was quite a production.

The Third Rail was out in force, with hundreds of members on hand to watch as David Villa modeled the kit.

We had banners printed, and the club hung them from the upper levels.

Those are going to look great at Yankee Stadium next year.

When the time came for Villa to model the new kit, one of our members tossed a scarf to him, which he eagerly wore:

Fantastic support for our group.

The emcee spotted one of our flags in the front row and had it brought up on stage:

And, as usual, the club released this graphic explaining some of the features. This was presented to journalists as they entered the building, causing the kit to leak about a half-hour before the official unveiling.

Although that picture doesn't make it clear, they appear to be pairing it with white socks featuring three sky blue stripes and the word "CITY" in sky blue on the back.

I'll have my thoughts on the shirt itself soon. For the meantime, this was a fantastic opportunity to come out and show support for the club, and I'm so proud of the Third Rail members who gave up their weekday to represent us.

(photo credit: NYCFC)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Inaugural Season Logo

In advance of the jersey unveiling tomorrow, the club released this Inaugural Season logo:

I like it. That subway font is the same one we use in the Third Rail logo, designed by Matthew Wolff:

We'll see more of the Pigeons' look tomorrow!

Monday, November 3, 2014

I'd Put One on My Car!

In our efforts to increase the visibility of NYCFC, MLS and the sport of soccer all throughout the metro area, the Third Rail is spearheading a campaign for a custom NYCFC license plate.

Custom license plates are already available for all the major New York State sports teams, as well as for some more obscure ones.

To design this mockup, I looked at the license plates currently available for professional sports teams. All the plates use the same basic template, with a white background, blue bars across the top and bottom and a team identifier on the left-hand side.

This being New York, there are more options for fans of baseball teams. Even if your team is an independent minor league outfit, or a big-league club that left town sixty years ago. With one notable exception, those designs use the respective teams' primary logos.

The Dodgers' primary logo would probably cause some LA-related confusion, as it hasn't changed in seventy-five years, so the state uses a cap logo instead. Surrounded by a red circle, presumably to set it apart from the blue letters and numbers of the individual plates. Shame, though, that they didn't choose an historically accurate one. And what, no love for the Brooklyn Cyclones?

The gridiron designs are different, using 3D representations of the team helmets:

I think that's a much more dynamic design than flat logos, but not exactly an option we have for our club.

Hoops fans can choose from New York City's two franchises:

Interesting that the Nets are the only ones to include their league logo.

The state's hockey lovers have solid options; even the minor league Rochester Americans are included. Again, we're back to the primary logos in each case.

There's even one lone plate supporting the Beautiful Game, the alliteration-loving third division club Rochester Rhinos:

With all those pro sports choices, Major League Soccer certainly deserves its due.

It's interesting that most of these designs just have the team logo. Three others—the Brooklyn Nets, Rochester Americans, and Long Island Ducks—also have their name or city along the bottom. For our proposed mockup, I added "NEW YORK CITY FC" in the classic subway-inspired Helvetica font used by the club. Sky blue keeps the name from overwhelming the design.

I would expect that if the club is successful, we'd see a design like this.

Adding new organizations to this list requires an act of the Legislature; click here to search for your New York State Assembly representative, and click here to find your Senator. Let them know that you want the option of New York City FC license plates for your car!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My (Revised) Kit Concept

Now slightly revised from the original, and with the new MLS badges on the sleeves, I humbly present my own NYCFC kit concept.

The colors come from our ownership group; one each from Manchester City and the Yankees, to create a color profile unlike anything currently seen in New York sports.

I remain convinced that the club will announce a sponsorship deal with Etihad Airlines (I'm equally convinced that's a mistake), but hey. My concept, my sponsor. Although I would greatly prefer the team to go sponsor-less for the first season to let their own brand take root before diluting it, I bow to reality. They're going to do something, so in that case I like the idea of promoting the municipality as a gesture of goodwill from our newest team to the city it calls home.

Aside from the sponsor, I stuck with a simple, clean template. Well, as clean a template as you can have with those three signature stripes everywhere. Collared, to pay homage to the sport's history. I myself prefer contrasting stripes to a monochrome kit, and white sets off the sky blue.

We know that sky blue will be the primary color, but I wanted to make sure the navy would be represented. The Adidas stripes fit the bill.

The piping down the side of the shirt echoes the navy/orange/navy rings that border the club's crest. I didn't want to use much orange on the shirt (we'll save that for the change or keeper's kit), just a touch here and on the socks. And always bordered by navy.

It was important to me to find a place where the "Timeless Monogram" could be used by itself. It's a strong mark, deserving of a little exposure. We have the badge on the shirt, repeated on the shorts, so the socks seemed a perfect place to put it.

Finally, I added a little NYC flag to the jock tag. I've long thought that our city flag looks especially good against a sky blue background.

This is, of course, what I would like to see. Not necessarily what I expect to see. By now, we can sure that the actual kit has been finalized, so as to have merchandise ready by the time of the announcement. We'll see what they've come up with soon, perhaps within a few weeks.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

See You at the Third Rail's Halloween Party!

All Hallows' Eve is approaching, and the Third Rail is ready to celebrate!

Our first annual Halloween party will be held on Saturday November 1st starting at 7:00 pm at Nevada Smiths, our home for away matches!

We will have:
  • prizes for the best costume;
  • a guest DJ playing music till the wee hours;
  • drink specials;
  • exclusive Third Rail merchandise available for purchase;
  • a FIFA 15 tournament;
  • and much more!
This party is 21+, ID is required!

The FIFA 15 tournament will begin at 7:00 pm. The tournament costs $10 to enter, and pre-registration information will be open shortly. First place wins a prize pack!

You can find more information at our Facebook event page.

I'll be there; hope to see you!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

New MLS logo Revealed!

The new MLS logo, which we first heard about last month, has been released:

It's a surprisingly minimalist design, replacing the "boot and ball" that the league has used in one variation or another since it was founded in 1994. A simple shield divided in half, sometimes with a gradient, three stars and the letters "MLS".

Here's the league's breakdown of the style elements:

WORDMARK: MLS stands for Major League Soccer.

SLASH: The slash refers to soccer's speed and energy. The slash begins outside the perimeter and drives upward at a 45-degree angle to illustrate both the nonstop nature of our game and the rising trajectory of our league. It bisects the crest to create a "first half" and "second half."

STARS: The three stars represent the pillars of our brand: For Club, For Country, For Community.

PERIMETER: The perimeter represents the lines that mark off the field of play.

FIRST HALF AND SECOND HALF: The first half contains MLS and the three stars. The second half is an open white space that brings you in and out of the MLS world.
One of the most interesting things about this new branding is that the shield will be re-colored for each team's use, the way baseball teams recolor Major League Baseball's logo for the back of their jerseys and caps. I can overlook the rather pedestrian red-white-and-blue color scheme, considering that each team will be using their own coordinated version.

Can you recognize which version belongs to which club? Here's a key:

On the whole, I like this. With very few exceptions, there's a clear delineation between each team's version, although I do wish they had swapped the red and white "halves" in the Red Bulls logo so as to separate it from the league's own.

Here's a closer look at the version New York City FC will be using:

That double-blue version will also be worn on the shirt, as seen in this LA Galaxy image released by the league:

If that mockup is correct, the patch will incorporate a diagonal texture into the color blocks, a huge improvement over the flat print versions.

Also note that the right sleeve is currently occupied by the national flag of the team's home.

Again, if the mockup can be trusted the current patch placement will change. And getting rid of the flags would be a major improvement.

So now we know what the NYCFC kits will feature on their sleeve(s). Can't wait to see what the rest of them look like.