Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thoughts on MLS, NYCFC and Ethiad Airways

MLS has an interesting announcement out today that is widely expected to impact our club:

MLS stars Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan, Tim Cahill, and Eddie Johnson with Etihad Airways.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Etihad Airways
Etihad Airways announced as official airline partner of Major League Soccer
March 25, 2014    MLS Communications

ABU DHABI / NEW YORK (March 25, 2014) – Major League Soccer (MLS) and Soccer United Marketing, MLS’ commercial arm, today announced a multi-year partnership deal with Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates.

Within the new agreement, Etihad Airways becomes the official airline partner of MLS in the United States. It is the Abu Dhabi-based airline’s first multi-year sports sponsorship in the territory and one that underscores its expanding commitment to the U.S. market.

Etihad Airways and MLS will also work together on a number of activations and initiatives including community programs, as well as hosting competitions and promotions for flights and holidays with MLS fans.

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said: “Etihad Airways has a growing portfolio of sports properties that cover the globe and we’re delighted to now add Major League Soccer, a leading international sports brand, to this group.”

The agreement will see the Etihad Airways logo and its messages beamed across LED pitch-side advertising during nationally televised MLS matches, as well as across national broadcast partners and MLS Digital Properties, the leading online soccer platform in North America.

Major League Soccer represents the sport’s highest level in the United States and Canada, composed of 19 teams, with 16 in the U.S. and three in Canada. The MLS regular season runs from March to October, with the MLS Cup Playoffs taking place in November and December.

MLS’ global presence continues to increase with the announcements of expansion clubs, New York City FC and Orlando City Soccer Club.

Mr. Hogan added: “The MLS partnership will enable Etihad Airways to continue to build its brand in the United States, a key market for us, and offers an ideal platform to interact with the millions of sports fans and communities across the country and showcase the airline and services.”

Don Garber, Commissioner of Major League Soccer, said: “We are excited to welcome Etihad Airways as the official airline partner of Major League Soccer in the United States and are proud to be the first major sports association in the U.S. for such a prestigious global company. On behalf of our clubs, our players and our millions of fans, we welcome Etihad Airways to the MLS family and look forward to working with them to help grow their business in this region.”

Etihad Airways currently operates daily flights between its hub at Abu Dhabi Airport and Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. In June 2014 it will launch daily flights to Los Angeles and in December it will start a three flights-a-week service to Dallas-Fort Worth.

The airline has a premium lounge at Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C. and has plans to open one at New York’s JFK Airport and Los Angeles’ LAX.

In addition to MLS, Etihad Airways’ sponsorship portfolio includes the Nation’s Triathlon in Washington, D.C., the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Etihad Stadium in Manchester, Manchester City Football Club, All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, Harlequins Rugby Club, and the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
As an "official airline" for the league, Etihad is a very odd choice. Let's take a look at the route map on the Etihad site. Their own routes are in red:

As one might expect, their routes are concentrated out of Abu Dhabi. But MLS clubs are unlikely to use those routes in common practice. How about their business in the United States?

Setting aside their "Codeshare Partner Destinations" in blue and looking just at the cities to which Etihad itself flies, we have six locations in North America. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt and include Los Angeles and Dallas, listed as "Future Destinations." Those six cities are New York, Toronto, Detroit, Baltimore, Dallas and Los Angeles. All six are home to MLS clubs.

That means the "official airline" of MLS only services six of the twenty-one MLS cities (we'll give MLS the benefit of the same doubt and include "Future Destinations"). The league's official airline doesn't even fly to three-quarters of the league's cities.

Furthermore, of the league's cities Etihad does fly to, it doesn't fly between any of them. That means none of the teams can possibly fly on the league's official airline to any of their league matches. How very strange.

Who what's in this deal for Etihad? Can't really be exposure in these markets they don't service or even plan to service. It's widely seen as laying the groundwork for another, very specific sponsorship deal.

Since 2009, Etihad is the shirt sponsor of our very own parent club Manchester City.

In 2011, they expanded that sponsorship deal to include naming rights for the City of Manchester Stadium (now known commercially as Etihad Stadium).

That deal initially drew some scrutiny from UEFA; Etihad is the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, while Manchester City is owned by a private equity company itself owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the deputy prime minister of the UAE and member of the Abu Dhabi's ruling family. The deal was eventually cleared, but it illustrates the close relationship between sponsor and club.

So. This seems clearly poised to set the table for New York City's shirt sponsorship. It makes perfect corporate sense, allowing an immensely wealthy owner to channel additional funds into his club, and Etihad will certainly pay more than any other company for the ability to cross-promote within its own corporate family. I don't think it's best for NYCFC, however.

NYCFC has done a great deal to establish itself as a uniquely New York club. I have been hoping that the eventual choice of shirt sponsor would mean partnering with another uniquely New York company. But Etihad has almost no presence in New York City, with no known plans to expand its service beyond the one route it has; JFK to Abu Dhabi and back again.

Great for the club's bottom line, but not, I think, for the club as a whole.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Start Spreading the News...

New York City FC has started a full-court press following the release of the club's official badge, with full-page ads in the New York Daily News and the New York Post (that last one in color, no less!):

"Start spreading the news", indeed!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Crest Unveiling

Well, tonight's the night. At 7:50 EST, New York City FC will finally unveil its badge design.

Looks like the club is ready, too; I was alerted to the existence of a new page, shop.nycfc.com.

The club has already put its live feed on YouTube:

I'll be at the event tonight, and will post pictures as soon as I am able. Until then, keep following my Twitter feed @NYisBLUE for the first look!

UPDATE:  : : Circle it is!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Badge Unveiling Tomorrow!

Tomorrow, New York City FC will unveil the winner of its badge vote.

The event will be streamed live on the club's website at nycfc.com/unveiling. I'll be attending, and will bring updates as soon as they're available.

After nearly a year of waiting, and over a week since the two choices made their debut, the club will have its own identity. And I for one can't wait.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

NY Times: "New York City F.C. Coach Learning Manchester Way"

The New York Times is covering head coach Jason Kreis's education in Manchester:

Twitter: @NYCFC
New York City F.C. Coach Learning Manchester Way
By JACK BELL       MARCH 17, 2014

BARCELONA, Spain — Jason Kreis is a coach by trade, but for now, he has enrolled in a kind of soccer boot camp in Manchester, England.

Kreis moved there with his family in January for a six-month stay while he immerses himself in all things Manchester City. City, along with the Yankees, will operate the new club Kreis will coach, New York City F.C., when it begins play in Major League Soccer next season.

The intense, square-jawed Kreis was persuaded by Manchester City last year to leave the relative security of Salt Lake City, where he had coached Real Salt Lake since 2007, for the challenge that awaits him in New York.

In an interview last week in Barcelona, where he had gone to watch Manchester City play in the Champions League, Kreis pointed out that his new job came with immense expectations — not only from City’s deep-pocketed owners and N.Y.C.F.C.’s fans, but also from Kreis’s peers and potential players.

“I think we’re still fighting for respect in the soccer world; it’s just the way it is,” Kreis said of the perception in England of M.L.S. and soccer in America. “I’d be lying if I said I’ve come over here and that I’ve been getting a fantastic reception about American soccer from everyone. They do think we’re really, really far behind. Some people think soccer in the U.S. is archaic.

“I got asked this question: ‘Do you guys train every day?’ And this was someone in the professional soccer world. To have to answer that question shows exactly where we stand.”

           A former M.L.S. most valuable player, Jason Kreis helped build a championship team at Real Salt Lake. (Credit Ray Stubblebine European Pressphoto Agency)
A former M.L.S. most valuable player, Kreis helped build a championship team at Real Salt Lake with a mix of hungry, young American players like Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, Chris Wingert, Nick Rimando and Luis Gil; and modestly priced imports, mostly from South America, including Jamison Olave (now with the Red Bulls), Alvario Saborio and Joao Plata.

In Manchester, Kreis has spent most of his time watching City’s youth players. He said M.L.S. and Manchester City had an agreement that would enable him to acquire up to four players on loan from City’s under-21 academy team.

“No, I can’t take Fernandinho on loan for N.Y.C.,” he said of one of City’s Brazilian stars. “I’ve been looking at the U21 squad intently to see if there are a few who could be useful for N.Y.C., and the answer is, there are.

“In Salt Lake, we only had two academy teams, U16 and U18, and they were both down in Arizona. In Manchester, it’s all integrated down to the U9s. You can walk out and watch the U11 team play on Saturday, and it looks and plays exactly the same as the senior team. And that, to me, was the most amazing thing I’ve seen. The performance of 11-year-old kids in this club, it was off the charts.”

The decision for each Manchester City team in the club to play with the same style “comes from top down,” Kreis said. The philosophy provides continuity as players develop, he added, but also a consistent mind-set that Kreis says is missing in the United States.

“I have an opinion about why we haven’t created good attacking players or creative players that are among the best in the world,” Kreis said of soccer in America. “For me, it’s because we’re very reactive. When I watched the national team play in the past, I’ve always felt the team was playing very reactive to the opponent. We never seem to dictate the game. If you’re always reacting, it’s impossible to create young, attack-minded players because we’re always chasing the ball.”

With less than a year until N.Y.C.F.C. begins play, Kreis described himself as impatient. He called himself “a worrier” intent on waiting for this summer’s international transfer period to make some core acquisitions that he then can augment through the M.L.S. expansion draft and the next college draft.

Perhaps not surprisingly for someone now employed by one of the world’s richest clubs, Kreis was particularly adamant about the need for M.L.S. to loosen the purse strings and increase salary budgets. He complained that the current restrictions leave clubs with little depth.

“I believe the cap has got to be raised, not to allow to spend on big players, but in the middle, the players who really make a difference between winning and losing,“ he said. “The biggest improvement our teams need to make is in the depth of our rosters. We need more cap money to compete in the world market for players.”

Last week’s trip to Barcelona was Kreis’s first outside England since taking his new post. It was not, he said, a vacation.

“We won’t get around Europe until June,” Kreis said. “And I’ve only been to one E.P.L. game, other than City, and that was Liverpool-Everton. Tim Howard got me tickets, which was great. Other than that, I’ve been to a few lower league games looking at players.”
It's great to see some attention from the Gray Lady, and Jack Bell's coverage is second to none.

We're getting a peek at how Kreis might be developing his roster. I love the fact that he's scouting lower leagues outside of City's academy. And he's right about the bench depth; you have to figure that the increased expansion fees, and the deeper pockets paying them, will mean raising the salary cap to increase the value of those clubs.

Friday, March 14, 2014

"From the Factory Floor" Podcast

Last Wednesday, I taped a segment for the Football Factory's "From the Factory Floor" podcast. Host Steven Korowitz grilled me for over half an hour on all things NYCFC; the club, its ownership, Man City, stadium problems, and the all-important question "Why not the Red Bulls?"

My episode of the podcast was released just this morning, and you can stream it online on their website or download it from iTunes.

The Football Factory, aside from being one of the best soccer pubs in the city, was also the host of our first informal meeting. It was a pleasure to speak with Steven, an honor to help spread the word about NYCFC and what we hope to accomplish, not to mention just fun to talk football for a little while. I hope you'll listen to it, and I hope to do more in the future.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Final Day to Vote, and Support From a Valued Source [UPDATED]

Today's the day! Voting on NYCFC's new crest ends today at 5:00 EST. Don't miss this chance to have your vote heard!

Last night, my "Best of Both Worlds" campaign picked up a fantastic endorsement, from none other than Rafael Esquer, the designer of the two proposed badges.

It means a great deal to hear that from him. I was a great admirer of the "Made in NY" before I had any idea who had designed it. I hope the club is listening.

Esquer also tweeted this photo: I think it shows how strong the navy & sky color scheme can be, and also how well the all-white interlocking "NYC" works on its own. That's one of the reasons I created the mash-up logo to begin with, marrying the distinctive shield shape with Esquer's strong white monogram.

There are two variations of the "Best of Both Worlds" crest, one with pentagons signifying the five boroughs and one without. I know Esquer prefers the one without, as I believe he feels the shield shape already symbolizes the city coming together.

We don't have to settle for either/or. There is a third way. And if you agree with me that the best possible crest combines elements from both choices, today's the last day to let the club know!

There's absolutely nothing wrong with NYCFC saying "We listened to the fans, we heard they like elements of both crests, and our new team badge incorporates that feedback." It would be perfectly consistent with their established (and admirable) pattern of outreach.

UPDATED 5:30PM:   Well, it's all over but the counting. We'll see how it comes out.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Best of Both Worlds

My mash-up NYCFC crest, featuring the best elements of the two club crests now up for a vote, is garnering some very positive attention.

It's getting very good feedback on Twitter and Facebook, and Soccer Newsday columnist Nick Chavez mentions it in his article this morning on the vote.
So which badge seems the more likely to be unveiled on March 20? It appears a considerable majority (of) social media responses indicate that the circular NYCFC badge design to the right is the preference of most voters and commenters. On the other hand, a “Best of Both Worlds” campaign has been initiated by Chance, one of the prominent organizers of New York City’s first official Supporters’ Group on his NYCisBlue.com blog, where he tweaked (the) NYC Seal-shaped badge, making the monogram all-white, the shield navy blue, and the trim orange instead of gold.

Originally partial to the idea of the New York City seal-shaped idea (though feeling like it was missing something), and the uniqueness of its shape as a football club badge, I find myself leaning towards Chance’s tweak of the design.
He goes on to write "in truth, I would be pleased with whatever the fans choose," and I agree with him there. But as a fan, I want nothing but the best for my new club.

Chavez also quotes Claudio Reyna, the club's Sporting Director, who said this about the process:
"This badge is to be the symbol of our Club, a symbol of our players and we hope in time, a symbol of this City. That is why we decided to give our fans the power to take part in such a fundamental way."
And we're grateful for it, Mr. Reyna. So grateful, indeed, that I wanted to put my own efforts forward in the creation of that symbol. I feel the club is so close to a truly perfect design, featuring the best elements of Rafael Esquer's two designs.

If you agree, let the club know!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My Take On the Proposed NYCFC Crests

Now that we've had a day to digest the two crests up for a vote, I'd like to weigh in on Rafael Esquer's marvelous designs.

There is much to like here. They're both uniquely New York, which ought to quell the "Man City Junior" calls for a few days. They will both stand out amongst MLS logos, and they will both look good embroidered on the shirts.

First, the shield. This has been described by the club this way:
The shield is the result of extensive research into global soccer. Seeking to give the Club a unique and distinctive character within MLS, we examined badges from every professional soccer team in the world. In the end, we found the answer right here at home. This design features the historic shield of the official Seal of New York City – a mark that signifies the pioneering spirit of the early settlers, which in the modern era, has fueled America’s undoubted move onto the world soccer stage.
I love the idea of incorporating the shield shape from the city's seal (which is itself featured on the city flag). But there are a few elements that doen't work for me with this particular version, primarily the multicolored monogram. It scatters focus by separating each individual element within the design, when your eye should be drawn to the totality. The shield design features a color not found on the circle - gold. I think that's one color too many. Orange works well as an accent color to highlight the two blues, and the gold is similar enough to, yet different enough from, the orange to make the overall effect muddy.

Now let's look at the circle:
The circular badge is inspired by the old New York City Subway Token, created by the Transit Authority in 1953 and used for 50 years as the standard fare for a ride. The last version of the token had a cut out pentagon in the center representing the five boroughs, similar to what appears on either side of the monogram, to reinforce the Club’s connection to the entire city. The circle is also a symbol of unity, wholeness and infinity, and is often associated with potential and the number one. This is a modern and confident badge that clearly speaks to New York City’s status as a leading city.
The single-color monogram makes this a clear winner if I have to choose between them. I also love the pentagons. A wonderful symbol for New York; five boroughs, five sides. But again, there are competing elements here that I'd like to simplify. The Gotham text leaves a lot of blank space around the ring, and if there are going to be many outlines I'd rather the white inner outline be orange to match the outer.

What if we could take the best of both worlds? The uniquely-shaped badge of the shield overlaid with the single-color monogram?

I'd then make the inline orange, to highlight that accent color. That gives us a predominantly navy shield, which will set off nicely against a sky blue shirt, should they go that route. White monogram, sky blue text, orange inline.

This is what I'd like to see, based on the choices before us.

I also have a version with blue pentagons flanking the "NYC" monogram on either side, the five-sided geometric shape representing the five boroughs of New York City. They also give us an opportunity to inject a little more sky blue into the crest, balancing out the orange.

I'm told that the pentagons could make applications such as embroidery more difficult, and that including them here would make getting NYCFC to consider this design more complicated. And that may be. Still, I like them enough to include them here. I leave it up to the reader to judge their merits.

Is it possible that we could see a combined design like this? Absolutely. There would be nothing wrong with the club saying "We have listened to our fans, and they like elements of both designs." It would be perfectly in line with the spirit of the vote.

Portland Timbers fans were able to get changes made to their crest after it was unveiled; surely we can suggest changes to ours before it has even been selected. But time is short. The vote ends on Thursday, with the final product being unveiled one week later.

Let's see if we can get the club to make that final product the best it can be!

Monday, March 10, 2014

"It's Up to You, New York" - Vote Early, Vote Often!

After a brief delay in the proceedings, the two potential NYCFC crests have been unveiled and the vote is on!

I'll have updates as we go along - but go vote now!

Here's the official release:
Vote Now: It's up to you, New York.

10 March 2014 14:27
Posted byJanine Padilla

New York City FC announced today that it wants its fans to choose the Club’s official team badge as the Club counts down to its inaugural season which kicks off in approximately one year – March 2015.

Starting today and ending on Thursday March 13th, fans will have the opportunity to vote on their preferred badge from two options, created by renowned designer Rafael Esquer and chosen by the Club. The badge that receives the most votes will become the bedrock of the Team’s identity and will be formally unveiled in New York City on March 20th.

Urban artifacts like subway tokens and architectural details found throughout the city serve as inspiration for both designs. The two badges feature the typeface Gotham, a wholly American font inspired by the City’s signage. Born out of an in-depth study of building lettering in New York City, the monogram reflects the rich graphic language that is so much a signature of the five boroughs. The colors navy blue, white and orange are drawn from the New York City flag. The two badge options above.

The shield is the result of extensive research into global soccer. Seeking to give the Club a unique and distinctive character within MLS, we examined badges from every professional soccer team in the world. In the end, we found the answer right here at home. This design features the historic shield of the official Seal of New York City – a mark that signifies the pioneering spirit of the early settlers, which in the modern era, has fueled America’s undoubted move onto the world soccer stage.

The circular badge is inspired by the old New York City Subway Token, created by the Transit Authority in 1953 and used for 50 years as the standard fare for a ride. The last version of the token had a cut out pentagon in the center representing the five boroughs, similar to what appears on either side of the monogram, to reinforce the Club’s connection to the entire city. The circle is also a symbol of unity, wholeness and infinity, and is often associated with potential and the number one. This is a modern and confident badge that clearly speaks to New York City’s status as a leading city.

Esquer is best known for his iconic “Made in NY” logo, representing New York City’s efforts to support local film and television production. His work also includes the newest logo for the Houston Rockets and national team uniforms for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

“This badge is to be the symbol of our Club, a symbol of our players and we hope in time, a symbol of this City. That is why we decided to give our fans the power to take part in such a fundamental way,” said Claudio Reyna, Sporting Director of New York City FC. “Thanks to the work of Rafael Esquer we feel that we have two designs that truly represent our Club and our City, and we’re excited to see which badge they choose.”

“Our supporters will always have a voice in our Club at New York City FC,” said Tim Pernetti, Chief Business Officer of New York City FC. “We are truly excited about this opportunity to partner with them on this decision and we are counting on all New Yorkers and fans beyond the city to get involved, cast a vote and make New York City FC history.”

To vote on the preferred final badge, fans can simply log on to www.nycfc.com/vote. Voting will remain open through Thursday, March 13th.

Fans also still have the option of submitting their own badge designs to become a pixel of the official New York City FC team badge mosaic to be revealed later this spring. The final Club badge mosaic will allow fans to zoom in to find their own design permanently displayed within the shield. A physical manifestation of the mosaic will also be on display in the Club’s permanent facilities. Fans can design and submit their badges through New York City FC’s badge generation tool, known as the “badge configurator” at www.nycfc.com/mynycfc.
The club also released these images, promoting some of the design philosophy behind each badge:

The "Timeless Monogram", as they're calling it, will have to stand on its own. I don't like the multicolored version; the all-white is so much more striking and balanced.

I am already a huge fan of the Gotham typeface, a bold sans-serif design designed in 2000 for GQ magazine. It was inspired by the mid-century signage the designer found while walking around New York, and gained national prominence in 2008 when the Obama campaign used it as their signature face. How appropriate that it should now be employed by the first MLS club to play in New York City, and it's only a shame that the club will be bound by the league's standard numbers and letters for the back of their shirts.

And we also have details for the shapes.

The addition of orange caused a significant splash among the faithful. Here the club describes the reason behind its inclusion:

Nice callback to the flag of New York City. Although the current flag of the Netherlands is red, white and blue, the flag at the time of New Amsterdam was orange. Indeed, orange remained the national color of the Netherlands and features prominently today with their national football team.

I'm not actually a huge fan of the orange, because it muddies up an excellent color scheme in the double-blues. I'm very much hoping that NYCFC eventually treats orange the way the Yankees treat red; a featured element in the logo and some merchandise, but almost (if not totally) absent from the uniform itself. As the club will presumably use gold, if the shield design is chosen.

Finally, club also updated its website, in a new sky blue color scheme:

I am glad that, either way, we're getting an interlocking monogram.

I am a huge fan of Rafael Esquer's "Made in NY" logo. Since 2005, it has been used to promote film and television production, the digital and startup industry and theatrical production created within the city. Esquer's design is simple yet effective, works at any size from internet icon to billboard, and stands out in all contexts. Simple and iconic, my own personal hallmarks of good design. I've seen it everywhere from film credits to tshirts. It's fitting that NYCFC, with its emphasis on the five boroughs, would choose its designer for their crest.

Each of these two possible badges are (of necessity?) more complicated than the "Made in NY" mark, but still carry the same strong shapes. I'd like to see Esquer's "NYC" monogram used on its own, without the circle, as a secondary logo.

But now it's time to cast our votes. The club is going all-out in promoting the crest vote around town, with electronic billboards at subway stations:

Twitter: @HeyHayward

Twitter: @BrianHester7

Twitter: @NYCFC

When it comes down to my vote, there's no question. I much prefer the distinctive shape from the city's seal, but I can't stand the multicolored monogram. For that reason alone, I have to go with the circle.

And after having voted, we see this screen:

Now it's your turn. Go make your voice heard.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

NYCFC Crest Delayed by "Yankees Trademark Concerns"

This was supposed to be an important month for New York City FC, including the unveiling of the team's logo and colors.

We had been expecting two logo semifinalists to be unveiled for a fan vote last week, but the week came and went without any announcement. And now we know why.

Empire of Soccer is reporting that "trademark concerns" from the New York Yankees have caused the delay.
Yankees Trademark Concerns Delay NYCFC Logo Launch
By Dave Martinez on March 4, 2014

New York City F.C. were set to reveal two crests on Monday for fan voting.

Instead, the soon-to-be 20th MLS franchise stood conspicuously quiet.

As it turns out, plans for their badge reveal hit an unexpected snag. EOS has learned that some in-house legal trouble has delayed the team’s long-awaited campaign. Of the two badges set to be presented to the general public, one failed to get final approval from the Yankee side of the NYCFC ownership due to "infringement of the baseball team's intellectual property."

The badges have been designed by two separate sources; one, an outside designer, and the second, an in-house team. Interestingly enough, it was the in-house design that sent up red flags at Yankee legal. Sources tell us the badge in question fell too close to the trademark design of the Yankee's image, but would not give further detail as to the design flaw itself. The other badge, described as a more "classic" offering, has passed the initial consent of both owners.

A quick search through the U.S. trademark database reveals two possible infringements. The first could be the iconic intertwined NY logo of the team itself, but the second, and perhaps more probable, is the Yankee script font. Of course, there could be other issues that would be looked upon as borderline infringement, such as the use of pinstripes, but that is just conjecture at this point.

League sources tell us NYCFC is looking to correct the issue in short time so that they may continue with their original plans. They had previously set forth a reveal for this week with the winning design to be unveiled at a gala event scheduled sometime during the week of the 10th.

How long it will take for them to make their way past this latest hurdle is anyone's guess.
My first thought is that I wish the club had gotten ahead of this story. They could have issued a one-sentence release on Twitter or their site announcing the delay, and we would all have been okay with it. It's not like we wouldn't notice when their own deadline passed.

But looking deeper at the issues involved, I think this development is potentially very good news for NYCFC's brand. And it's potentially very bad news for NYCFC's brand.

On the one hand, it's good that the Yankees are involved in the club's process. We hear a lot about Manchester City, but not about the Yanks. And it's especially good news that the proposed logos for NYCFC aren't overly derivative of Man City's.

On the other hand, I can't help but think that the sticking point is on an interlocking monogram (a "Yankees"-style script seems much less important). I've written before how crucial I think a monogram logo will be for the club. If that monogram is interlocking, as in this fantastic design by local designer Milo Kowalski, the Yanks might take issue with it.

Of course, as every true Yankee fan knows, the Y in their logo sits on top of the N. Kowalkski's design features the reverse.

Okay, okay, I know. Too subtle. But surely there's a way to make NYCFC's monogram sufficiently distinct so as not to infringe upon the Yankees'. I would hope that the addition of "C" would do the trick, but we don't know.

Perhaps the full story will never come out. Perhaps we'll never see the proposed logos that caused this delay. I'm just hoping that they can find a way to serve the interest of New York City FC and its corporate owners.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Soccer Newsday: "NYCFC Supporters’ Group Begins to Grow"

Writer Nick Chavez, in his "Blue City" column for Soccer Newsday, has reported on the first organizational meeting we held a week ago in Midtown Manhattan.

NYCFC Supporters' Group Begins to Grow
The group explored its goals and identity as it embarks on making American soccer history

by Nick Chavez | Monday, March 03, 2014

I attended the inaugural meeting of New York City Football Club's first-ever supporters' group on Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Football Factory of Legends bar in Manhattan. The meeting was chaired by Chance Michaels, the owner of the @NYisBlue NYCFC fan account on Twitter (and co-organized by Anthony Buckley who runs the @NYCFC_SC twitter account, but couldn't make the first meeting due to complications with Amtrak), and he led the discussion outlining his ideas for what the group should represent, what its goals should be moving forward, the challenges the club will face and other details.

Most of all, it was more of a casual meet up between fellow soccer supporters in the New York City area that believe in the potential and vision of NYCFC, and want to be the first to use their voices and efforts to support this club, which is still very much in its infancy.

Chance had reported that there were a "few dozen" people in attendance at this meeting that took place in the northernmost third of the Football Factory. He chaired the meeting and wanted those in attendance to know that he preferred this to be a more informal get-together, getting to know some of the fellow NYCFC supporters face-to-face before more formal proceedings in the future. He asked those present which foreign football clubs they support, and the majority stated they were English Premier League club fans.

Interestingly enough, there was only one Manchester City supporter in attendance with, ironically, a "handful" of Manchester United supporters.

This is a promising sign for the yet-unnamed supporters' group of NYCFC, since the club will really be hoping to bring as many of the large number of international soccer fans in the city as they can, and they will also be hoping that fans of clubs other than Manchester City will not be put off by the fact that NYCFC is owned by the club.

The soccer fans in the New York City area that are already fans of other local soccer clubs, like those of Red Bull New York or the New York Cosmos, are passionate about local soccer and are not likely to "jump ship" to NYCFC, so it is the large number of soccer fans in New York City area that have been ignoring America's domestic soccer leagues that NYCFC will really be hoping to win over.

This has been and will be a big challenge for the club and its supporters' groups hoping to recruit fans and members. The message the club and its supporters will want to make perfectly known is that New York City FC is New York City's own club, regardless of international club allegiance, even if the club one has supported is a big Manchester City rival such as Manchester United, which is considered by many to be the most popular club in the world.

American soccer fans must understand that European and Latin American club allegiance is completely irrelevant to supporting the club that represents the city someone lives in, or a person's most local club.

Local professional clubs must be supported in the US in order for America's domestic leagues, and therefore US Soccer, to thrive, and that will be very difficult to achieve if American soccer fans are overly concerned with which entities invested in and established the local club.

And since most American soccer fans started falling in love with the game as a spectator by following foreign soccer, it is something that they will need to understand if they ever want their domestic soccer leagues and national team to really achieve the level of success and quality that they potentially can.

NYCFC Supporters' Group also reached out to NYCFC club officials to ask if they wanted to send a club representative to attend the meeting, but the club declined the invitation. As Chance explained (supported by what I was told in my own discussion with NYCFC VP of Ticket Sales and Fan Services Mike Quarino at the Jason Kreis announcement press conference), NYCFC declined because it does not want to be directly involved with the organic establishment, development, and direction of any NYCFC supporters' group, besides providing moral support and sharing news regarding the supporters' groups' activities and opportunities for NYCFC's fans to get involved via social media. The new NYC club prefers that the supporters' group, and those that might be created in the future, all be independently formed and remain an impartial voice of NYCFC fans.

The group also discussed the difficulties involved in supporting NYCFC in a temporary home stadium, especially if that stadium is Yankee Stadium. They discussed the obstacles they might face in creating a loud, intimidating atmosphere in such a stadium, not built with soccer matches in mind, and how it is likely to initially negatively affect the image of the club's support in the stadium and on television. This remains a concern for the group, but everyone seemed in agreement that NYCFC's first supporter's group should strive to be as vocal and animated as possible.

One cannot underestimate the way a loud, enthusiastic stadium can influence the perception of on-lookers. A team can look like an irrelevant club or a very important, top soccer club just by how well it is supported at a live home game. No one can deny that the passionate, vocal crowds of the MLS clubs in Seattle, Portland and Kansas City and others make their teams look very important to their local community, which only helps in gaining further support from new fans, whether soccer fans already, or potential fans of the sport stumbling upon their first MLS game on television.

To have such an atmosphere from the very beginning would be a godsend for NYCFC's hopes of capturing the imagination of the NYC-metro area, and the supporters' groups must recognize this and strive to see that unified, passionate vocal support becomes one of the pillars of their philosophy and mission.

One of the advantages NYCFC and its first Supporters' Group have is the opportunity to allow fans to make history with the club from its very inception. This is a rare opportunity for modern-day soccer fans, who can only read about and dream of what it was like to be the first supporters of great international football institutions like Real Madrid, Manchester United, AC Milan, Bayern Munich and others.

With NYCFC they have this extraordinary opportunity, and in the great city of New York, with this ambitious and wealthy ownership group, and with the continued growth and investment in MLS, they can realistically dream of also eventually being one of the great soccer clubs in the world. Here is New York City's soccer fans' chance to build a globally-relevant football institution, like those revered around the world, from the ground up. It's a rare opportunity to really start an important chapter in American soccer history.

Chance Michaels and NYCFC's first ever supporters' group is answering that challenge, and will be striving to recruit as many of the great number of soccer supporters in the New York City area as they can. And they are doing so with a firm message to all, as Chance Michaels put it, "NYCFC is our local side, and should be able to be followed by all New Yorkers regardless of whatever other (foreign club) affiliations we have."

And with this meeting, they have taken the first official, historic step in helping to build and establish New York City Football Club's organized support. Without a doubt, their efforts, passion and commitment will be indispensable to the future success and relevance of NYCFC to the local community, and American soccer as a whole.
Please read his column on the Soccer Newsday site.

I have a great deal of respect for Nick as a writer. I also value his opinions on the sport, as well as his input on the formation of our group, the challenges we face and the immense opportunity ahead of us. It was a pleasure to finally meet him in person. Check out his column archive here.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

State of the Bronx: "I Can See a New Soccer Stadium"

Office of the Borough President

Last week, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. gave his 2014 "State of the Borough" address. Like a State of the Union or a State of the State, it included a review of his accomplishments from last year and featured his goals for the upcoming year in the Bronx. The theme was the "New Bronx" and showcased what Diaz sees as the changing public perception of the borough both locally and internationally, and the public/private partnerships helping to drive that change.

Sports and sporting facilities featured heavily, from the new Trump Golf Links golf course in Ferry Point ("the rolling hills" of which will serve as a "welcome mat" for drivers entering the Bronx via the Whitestone Bridge) to converting the Kingsbridge Armory into the new Kingsbridge National Ice Center. The address included a tidbit sure to perk up our ears:
"With the right neighborhood engagement, and the appropriate community benefits agreement, I can even see a new soccer stadium a few blocks from here."
That's a lot of caveats for one sentence, but it's encouraging to know that the Borough President remains interested in building an MLS stadium in his borough.

The full text of the speech is here.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Play Fantasy Football for NYCFC Prizes!

Yesterday, New York City FC announced its Fantasy Football contest for the 2014 MLS season.
Join the free 2014 New York City FC fantasy league and compete against fellow fans and win prizes!

MLSsoccer.com is back with the 2014 version of MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager. Your task is to piece together the best possible roster while staying under the salary cap.

In addition to being eligible to win global prizes from MLS, the top 10 finishers in the official NYCFC league will be eligible to take home prizes the following prizes:

Grand Prize
Four (4) tickets to the New York City FC home opener and field level access for warm-ups.

2nd and 3rd Place Prizes
Two (2) tickets to the New York City FC home opener and a team signed jersey.

4th through 10th Place Prizes
Inaugural New York City FC jersey.

To join the official New York City FC Supporters league, CLICK HERE and follow the directions listed below:
  1. Click the "Start Playing" button and log in with a social network or through your MLS Network account.

  2. Follow the directions on the MLS Fantasy Website to pick the players for your team.

  3. Be sure to name your team and, in order to enter the Contest, you must select "New York City FC" as your "Favorite Club".
Interesting. I love even the talk of official jerseys; it seems so far away. And, just as an aside, the team's graphic up top is both an example of how great multiple shades of blue can be in branding the club and (hopefully) another hint that they'll keep the launch colors.

The MLS website is a little confusing; if you haven't registered with them before, you have to sign up. At that point, they ask you to set a favorite club, but NYCFC isn't listed. NYCFC is an option when you edit your profile, and when you select your fantasy team. So don't worry, you can choose "No Preference" when registering and still enter into the NYCFC contest.

The contest is clever; they're piggybacking on the official MLS fantasy football site, just adding prizes specific to the club. I like it.

More details in the Terms and Conditions:


ELIGIBILITY: MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager (http://fantasy.mlssoccer.com/) is open to legal residents of the United States of America. The New York City FC MLS Fantasy Manager Contest (the "Contest") is open to people who reside within a seventy-five (75) mile radius of New York, NY, who are eighteen (18) years or older as of the date of entry. Employees, officers, and directors (including immediate family members (spouses, parents, children and siblings and their respective spouses, regardless of where they reside) and members of the same household, whether or not related) of New York City FC (the "Sponsor"), Major League Soccer, L.L.C. ("MLS"), and Soccer United Marketing, LLC ("SUM") (collectively, with Sponsor and MLS, the "MLS Entities") and each of their respective parents, affiliated companies, subsidiaries, licensees, distributors, dealers, retailers, printers and advertising and promotion agencies, and any and all other companies associated with the Contest are not eligible to participate or win a prize. The Contest is subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws, rules and regulations. Void outside United States of America, and where prohibited or restricted by law, rule or regulation.

HOW TO ENTER: The Contest begins on February 28, 2014 and ends on October 26, 2014 ("Entry Period"). During the Entry Period, there is one (1) way to enter: online. No other method of entry will be accepted. Limit one (1) entry per person, per e-mail address and per household, regardless of method of entry. Multiple entries received from any person or e-mail address or household in excess of the stated limitation will be void.
  1. Online Method: During the Entry Period, go to (http://fantasy.mlssoccer.com/ (the "MLS Fantasy Website") and click on the banners, buttons and/or links to access the MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager in order to enter the Contest. While on the MLS Fantasy Website, log in with a social network or through your MLS Network account. Next, follow the directions on the MLS Fantasy Website to pick a team. Be sure to name your team and, in order to enter the Contest, you must select "New York City FC" as your "Favorite Club". By picking a team and selecting "New York City FC" as your "Favorite Club", you will be entered into the New York City FC Supporters Club and will receive one (1) entry in the Contest (an "Entry" and collectively, the "Entries"). Participants are subject to the official global rules of the MLS Fantasy Website. All information submitted online by entrants is subject to, and will be treated in a manner consistent with MLSsoccer.com's Terms of Service accessible at http://www.mlssoccer.com/terms-of-service, and Privacy Policy accessible at http://www.mlssoccer.com/privacy-policy (both of which are incorporated herein by reference).
WINNERS: The top ten Entries (i.e., the ten entries in the New York City FC Supporters Club that score the most points) will be selected as winners of the Contest (each a "Winner" and collectively, the "Winners"). The decisions of Sponsor are final and binding on all matters relating to this Contest. Odds of winning depend on the total number of eligible entries received. Limit one (1) prize per person, family and per household.
So limited to adults in the New York City area. Sorry, Manchester.

I've never played fantasy football in my life, either this kind or Gridiron ball. But I'm picking my players now. If I can't get the actual club nicknamed "Pigeons", at least I can name my own.

Latino Sports: "NYCFC Supporters Club First Meeting"

Latino Sports writer/editor Cesar Diaz attended our supporters group meeting, and posted his impressions:

NYCFC Supporters Club First Meeting

Posted by: Cesar Diaz on February 25, 2014

New York, NY – When Manchester City and the New York Yankees partnered up to acquire Major League Soccer’s 20th expansion club and formed New York City FC (NYCFC), it was a matter of time before a supporters group would be formed.

On Saturday, February 22, 2014, the NYCFC Supporters Club held their first meeting at the Football Factory at Legends. Facilitated by Chance aka @NYisBLUE, he addressed the purpose and direction of the supporters group.

At the moment, Chance is working on making NYCFC SC a nonprofit. In addition to working on the by-laws and mission statement, he expressed the need of having others involved throughout their growth process.

What I found unique about this supporters club is that they are following a club whose only history involves the Yankees and Manchester City. Out of everyone who was present, only one individual was a Manchester City supporter. Let’s be honest, most supporter clubs are centered around teams with a past.

Very few supporters clubs will be able to claim that they were the pioneer supporters club of a team that has yet to kick the ball. Along with the supporters clubs, there’s also the writers and artists who will invest their time and energy raising awareness about the club. As easy as it would be to dismiss their efforts, I commend them for taking a position.

On so many levels, they have the power to play a role in shaping their club’s identity. Majority of us support a club that’s already established. Very few of us are brave enough to follow a club with a controversial ownership who has yet to field a team. Very few of us will declare their support for a club that has yet to unveil their kits and crest.

Granted, not everyone is going to agree with their movement because the integrity of it will be questioned on a regular basis. And you know what? Our decision to agree to disagree is what makes our passion for the beautiful game fantastic.

Personally speaking, I’m looking forward to see how they evolve over time. As easy as it is to pass judgement on them, I hope some of us will take the opportunity to remember how we felt when we were formed and joined our supporters club. It’s an exciting and scary feeling because of the work and dedication behind.

For those of us who are members of a supporters club, I’m sure we can remember the excitement we felt when we attended our first meeting. I’m also sure many of us remember the pride we experienced when purchased our first supporters club scarf because we had something to declare our identity while making a contribution to our cause.

All I’m saying is that NYCFC SC has the right to feel the same emotions many of us felt when we first started. With that said, I wish NYCFC SC the best of luck and I look forward to the day when our clubs face each other in the future. Please follow them on twitter at @NYCFC_SC.
A very balanced look, especially coming from a Cosmos fan. Plus, he's a great guy to boot. Thanks, Cesar!