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.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Wall Street Journal: "700 Soccer Fans and Counting"

Tomorrow morning's Wall Street Journal will feature on our group on the first page of the "Greater NY" section, and the online version is up now! I'm featured pretty prominently, which is a great honor.

Jocelyn Perez, left, and Jodi Honeycutt pick up their Third Rail membership cards at an Aug. 9 meeting of the group.
Kevin Hagen for The Wall Street Journal
700 Soccer Fans and Counting: Fan Club Third Rail Builds Ranks
New York City Football Club's Supporters Society Expands

By Ryan Wallerson
Sept. 4, 2014 9:31 p.m. ET


When the clock passed 2 p.m. on a recent Saturday at the Midtown sports bar Nevada Smiths, a crowd of several dozen soccer fans had already ensured that the third meeting of the Third Rail, the independent group formally recognized by New York City Football Club as its official supporters society, would be the largest in its short history.

Despite the strong showing, group president Chance Michaels waited a bit to start the meeting. After about 20 more people arrived, he opened with a few items of pressing business: Membership cards would be distributed for the first time; a vote on the design for the group's charter-member scarf would be held; and, most important, the Third Rail had secured exclusive ticket access to sections 236 and 237 for home games at Yankee Stadium, where Major League Soccer's new expansion franchise will begin play in 2015.

These are the kinds of details that a budding fan base must hammer out ahead of game day.

"The state of the Third Rail is booming!" Michaels proclaimed, surveying the throng of fans whose favorite soccer team barely even exists.

Like the Third Rail, NYCFC is still under construction. Its payroll currently comprises six players and two coaches, and its home at Yankee Stadium is only temporary, with a permanent stadium and training facility as yet unsecured. By contrast, its unaffiliated fan group has a roster of more than 700 people. They began to assemble on the very day in May 2013 when the Yankees and the English Premier League's Manchester City Football Club unveiled their plan to co-launch an MLS franchise in New York.

"When we originally found each other, we had a name, an ownership group and not much else," said Michaels, who has worked as a theater producer in New York. "A bunch of us found each other on social media in the aftermath of the announcement and said, 'We are going to follow this team.'"

In the 15 months since, that initiative has pulled itself up by unfinished bootstraps. The nascent group, which adopted its name via a member vote, held its first meeting in February. In May, a leadership group was formed, and another general-member meeting was held in June. They played out more like auditions. Some fans signed up immediately; others were there to get a feel for the team, the group and the people involved.
Carlos Reyes, Joan Reyes and Alexis Gonzalez are proud members of the Third Rail, the independent fan group recognized by New York City Football Club; the Major League Soccer franchise begins play next year. Kevin Hagen for The Wall Street Journal
"I set my goal at wanting 500 paying members by the time NYCFC played its first game," Michaels said. "We eclipsed that in a couple of months. We did our first big membership drive, we started taking memberships online and the effort just blew up."

Michaels and his leadership group have employed various tactics to attract new members. During the summer, they exploited World Cup fever by staging viewing parties around the city. There they recruited new members, searched for an official game-day pub, and co-hosted a gathering for the semifinals with NYCFC officials.

Though it is wholly independent, the Third Rail can mine its early collaborations to ascend to the level of the MLS's elite supporters clubs.

"This is different than some of the more recent expansion markets like Seattle, Portland, Montreal, where those teams and brands had previously existed in their market before jumping up to MLS," said Tim Pernetti, NYCFC's chief business officer. "To see the direction, organization and vision that they have in place in just over one year, for a club that has never played a game and only has a handful of players, is very impressive."

NYCFC became aware of the Third Rail during the group's first round of organized events, and approached it in February—on social media, of course—about forging a relationship.

"Our staff connected with them through Twitter and started a conversation with some of the people that got their group started, said Pernetti. "We have been in constant communication since."

It was important to Michaels and his group that they develop organically, with no direct involvement from the team, a preference NYCFC has thus far respected.

"We are open to whatever type of relationship the Third Rail prefers, [because] we recognize them as our first official supporters group," said Pernetti. "Supporters' culture in soccer and in MLS is different than other sports in [America]. These groups are independent and able to have their own voice."

The deference the team pays the group is a selling point for the recruitment effort, although its leaders go to lengths to ensure that prospective members are aware of the alliance.

"You don't see a lot of clubs directly shout out their supporter clubs like that," said Brooklynite Jeff Weisinger, 27, who was at the meeting at Nevada Smiths. "I joined for the FC, but the closeness that the Third Rail has developed with the team is probably what kept me here. It's awesome to see."

Weisinger was referring to Third Rail FC, a soccer team made up of group members that was initially intended as an icebreaker. Now it's one of the Third Rail's biggest membership drivers.

Erwin Seguia, a physical therapist from Astoria who also plays with Third Rail FC, recognized a lot of faces at the meeting. "A lot of guys that were there were from the practice pitch," he said.

Since the meeting, the club's membership has surpassed 700, a blue and orange scarf design has been chosen, and Third Rail FC's first-string team reached the semifinals of the seventh annual Supporters Cup Tournament, which was sponsored by NYCFC.

The MLS's newest team has plenty of work to do, but it can take comfort in knowing that its fan base is taking care of itself and will be ready when players yet to be signed take the field in March.

"The third rail powers the subway, the lifeblood of New York City," Michaels told the crowd at Nevada Smiths. "The Third Rail wants to power NYCFC. You don't step on the third rail, and when you're in Yankee Stadium next season, everyone will know why."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Third Rail Wants YOU!

One of the questions we hear most frequently is "How can I get more involved with the Third Rail?" Right now, we have some fantastic opportunities to do just that. There are currently four openings on our Board of Directors, and we would like to fill them in the next month.

We are looking for qualified and engaged applicants for the following positions:
  • Treasurer;
  • Director of Communications;
  • Director of Merchandising; and
  • Gameday Director.

The Treasurer is responsible for recommending financial policies and procedures which promote and maintain the fiscal stability of the Corporation. This involves coordinating with other directors in support of their activities and developing their annual budgets, tracking/recording all cash receipts and disbursements as well as other financial records, developing the overall budget, overseeing charitable fundraising activities; provides monthly income/expense reports as per our bylaws and working with tax advisor to prepare our annual filings. A background in accounting or a related field, as well as familiarity with the appropriate software, is preferred.

The Director of Communications develops a comprehensive communications and marketing strategy for the Third Rail, working with our Board of Directors and any external public relations entities to ensure all public statements advance that strategy.

The Director of Merchandising coordinates the design, production and sale of merchandise, developing new product lines and revenue streams. He or she must work closely with the Treasurer on regular financial accounting.

Our Gameday Director designs (in consultation with the rest of the Board) and executes a plan for the in-stadium experience. This includes recruiting and coordinating teams of artists craftspersons, and volunteers for our tifo displays. He or she will also help develop a repository of songs, chants and slogans created by our members and disseminate them as needed.

These positions are open to anyone 18 and over who is able to attend monthly meetings in Manhattan as well as home games at Yankee Stadium next year.

If you are interested in any of these positions, please send an email to ThirdRailNYC@gmail.com. Include your resume with any related experience, along with a short description of how you feel these skills would assist you in the position and any ideas you have for it.

Applications are due by 5:00 pm on Wednesday, September 10. We will start interviewing shortly after that.

We look forward to hearing from you!