Wednesday, December 23, 2015

New Man City Badge leaked?

This badge just started making the rounds. If this is it, the new badge does owe something to our club's design.


It's a combination of City's classic 1960s badge with NYCFC's.

Initial reactions: not enough sky blue, too much empty space, "City" looks goofy leveled off. They would have been better off keeping it with "Manchester" and arcing "Football Club" below. Really twin it with ours; Manchester City has ample and obvious reason to do so, unlike a certain other club I could name. Gotham font is always appreciated, though.



UPDATE 12/26:   Yep, this is it. It was officially unveiled during the Boxing Day match against Sunderland.


Here it is in historical context:

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

First 2016 Games Announced!

Just minutes ago, the club announced the dates of their 2016 Road and Home Openers.


Once again, the Boys in Blue will open on the road. This time it's in Chicago, on Sunday, March 6 at 2pm ET. Their first game in the Bronx will be against Toronto FC on Sunday, March 13 at 5PM EST.

At this point, tickets for the Home Opener are only available through the club's Holiday Pack promotion or a season-ticket City Membership.

The Chicago match is tempting. But I'll definitely be there at Yankee Stadium - and next year, I will have three season tickets instead of two, so both of my boys can join me to watch the 2016 season get underway!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Empire of Soccer: "NYCFC seek homegrown claim on Wake Forest star Jack Harrison"

Empire of Soccer has this fascinating read:


According to several sources, NYCFC are looking to claim Wake Forest midfielder and 2014-15 Gatorade Player of the Year Jack Harrison as their first Homegrown Player.

Harrison, 19, is a highly touted freshman at Wake Forest and a Manchester United academy product. His connection to NYCFC? Playing with NYCFC youth affiliate Manhattan Soccer Club for the past three years. Sources tell EoS that NYCFC hope the affiliate association this past season will be enough to qualify him as a Homegrown Player under the constructs of MLS.

That argument, however, will face stiff resistance. In order to qualify as a Homegrown, Harrison must show that he has participated at the club’s youth development system for at least a year. His work under the NYCFC affiliate could qualify for that standard, but that judgment remains in the hands of MLS. There are also other, unspecified league rules that go into the Homegrown title, leaving Harrison’s status under review by the league.

Harrison is already regarded as a top prospect in the college ranks, with many trusted sources placing him as a top five pick in the MLS SuperDraft.
Go read the rest over at Empire of Soccer. And check out these highlights from Harrison's time at the Berkshire School:

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Empire of Soccer: "Sunnyside Yards: NYCFC’s Dream Stadium Location?"

Empire of Soccer has a really interesting article up now, regarding a parcel of land that NYCFC should be looking at, as well as explaining why it almost certainly won't happen.
Sunnyside Yards: NYCFC’s Dream Stadium Location?
By Bill Reese on December 18, 2015
Since the franchise was first announced, fans and pundits have speculated on dozens of properties where a soccer-specific stadium for New York City FC could be built. Empire of Soccer listed 10 potential sites in 2013, and analyzed two additional sites in the Bronx and Westchester after that.

As the calendar turns to 2016, the club is—at least publicly—no closer to a soccer-specific stadium than they were when the $100 million expansion fee check cleared in 2013.

However, EoS has learned that city and state agencies are currently investigating the potential of developing a massive piece of land in Sunnyside, Queens — vast enough to fit new city parks, thousands of units of affordable housing, a new convention center, or, perhaps, a soccer-specific stadium.

This piece of land is, in many ways, the “final frontier” of New York City’s real estate boom. In a city with shockingly few stadium-sized parcels of land available to build upon—this could become NYCFC’s last best shot of getting everything they want from a home field.
The Sunnyside rail yards in Queens as they look today.
The site in question is the Sunnyside Yards; a massive expanse of railroad tracks, train depots, and switches nestled between the neighborhoods of Sunnyside to the south and Long Island City to the north and west. It encompasses 192 acres and stretches from the mouth of the Long Island Railroad and Amtrak tunnels nearly halfway to the neighborhood of Woodside.

It is one of, if not the largest, undeveloped pieces of land in the entire city and it has been coveted for years by city officials and developers alike.

Sunnyside dwarfs similar NYC redevelopment projects where platforms were built above active rail yards, with large buildings later constructed atop those platforms. The West Side Yard near Penn Station was to be the site of the 2012 Olympic Stadium and later the home of the New York Jets before the proposal was defeated on the state level and the Olympics were awarded to London. A massive development project called Hudson Yards was approved and is now rising on that site. After years of community opposition and the use of eminent domain, the Vanderbilt Yard in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn was decked over and the Barclays Center—home of the Brooklyn Nets and now the New York Islanders—was built atop that platform. After years of delays, other residential and commercial structures are now atop other sections of the Vanderbilt rail yard.

The Barclays Center and Hudson Yards developments have provided the city with case studies in what to do with the Sunnyside Yards. Both were met by massive community opposition, and both took more than a decade to come to fruition. Both were—at least from the start—centered around a sports facility as their anchor tenant. Both were also approved in the pre-recession real estate boom of the mid-aughts and both had several brushes with death before they got off the ground.

The Sunnyside Yards could become just about anything, which is the site’s blessing and curse. The de Blasio administration, while championing a populist message, has been painfully impotent in imposing a meaningful affordable housing policy in a city festooned with cranes putting up luxury high-rise after luxury high-rise. Because Sunnyside is so big, and because there are so many power brokers at the table, there are dozens of proposals about what to do with the site. Mayor de Blasio unsurprisingly came out in favor of building affordable housing over the Sunnyside Yards, but others have called for constructing a brand new convention center to replace the Jacob Javits Center on Manhattan’s West Side. Local politicians have called for more open space and parks to be placed on the site.

If a current study by New York State determines that decking over the Sunnyside Yards is feasible, then the location should become an incredibly attractive option not just for a NYCFC stadium for City Football Group, but also for Shiekh Mansour and his government’s investment arm, The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. The ADIA, on which Mansour sits on the Board of Directors, has moved to diversify its holdings in the last decade, not solely relying on the fluctuations of the global energy market. They have invested heavily in sports teams, cultural institutions, and real estate around the world, especially in New York City. The price of oil goes up and down, but New York City real estate will always be a sound investment. City Football Group, in conjunction with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, could put together a master plan for Sunnyside similar to what the Riverbend Project tried to do in Harrison. They could use a NYCFC Stadium by itself, or in conjunction with a new Javits Center, to be the centerpiece of a massive mixed-use development. Unlike the Hudson Yards development on the far west side of Manhattan, Long Island City has never been hotter, and the transit options already exist in abundance.
How a 25,000 seat stadium would fit in relation to Sunnyside Yards.
Previous NYCFC stadium sites have all had their pros and cons, but on a conceptual level, Sunnyside Yards is a perfect 10. If placed between the Honeywell Avenue and 39th Street bridges, the stadium would be adjacent to six subway lines, a newly-built Long Island railroad stop in Sunnyside (part of the LIRR to Grand Central project), and the Long Island Expressway. The stadium would be within walking distance for fans in Long Island City and Astoria, and within a 20 minute train ride of Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Everything is perfect, right? Well…

Even with all the money in the world—which Abu Dhabi basically has—this is a project that is nearly impossible to pull off in the current climate of New York politics. The developers would need to get New York State (who owns the MTA’s Long Island Railroad), the State of New Jersey (whose NJ Transit trains are parked in the Sunnyside Yard before they return to Penn Station and back out to Jersey), and the Federal government (whose Amtrak trains are parked and travel through the train yard) to agree to sell the air rights above the train yard.

Even if you miraculously get those three agencies on the same page, you’d have to also get the mayor and governor on the same page… and at this point Mike Petke and Ali Curtis are on better terms than Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio. If you could get those two on the same page, you would have to hire the best engineers in the world to construct a 192 acre platform 20-30 feet above one of the world’s busiest railways without disrupting service…And that’s all before they’d actually build the stadium or the buildings around it! Even if a master plan was agreed to today, it would likely be 10 years before the first buildings went up, and NYCFC (or MLS for that matter) likely won’t have that kind of patience.

Someday—someday sooner rather than later—a massive development is going to be built in the Sunnyside Yards. The forces building New York City bigger, taller, and richer will overcome the innumerate obstacles that stand in the way of the train yard being converted into a bustling city-within-a-city.

The City and State of New York will not come knocking on NYCFC’s door with a soccer-specific stadium on a silver platter, no matter how many “historic inaugural season ticket holders” the club has. Major League Soccer picked this ownership group because they have the resources to go out and build both a team—and stadium—of grand proportions.

Sunnyside Yards may be NYCFC’s best chance at fulfilling those grand ambitions.
Interesting idea. I've long thought that Long Island City would be a great central location, and Sunnyside Yards is only blocks north of that.

Their rendering is worth a second look, showing just how much land could conceivably be made available:


They could move that stadium to any number of places in the green, either the three large parcels north of the elevated subway tracks or even the small one directly south.

I used to live in the neighborhood of Sunnyside (which, in one of those geographical quirks Queensis known for, is actually a couple neighborhoods over from Sunnyside Yards). I would take the 7 train into work, and right before Queens Plaza was treated to an expansive view of the railyards. If I was thinking about development in the 1990s I can't believe somebody hasn't actually done it by now. Perhaps the various state parties make it just too complicated.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Future of Our League Is a Little Bit Clearer

With the unveiling of DC United's new badge, the future of MLS is really coming in to shape.


There's some great design in this league. I love the variety of MLS shields. That's the confirmed color set for both Atlanta United and Minnesota United. The LAFC shield is merely speculative, and we presume that Minnesota will be required to change its badge before their inaugural season.

Los Angeles is next - they're scheduled to release their badge on January 7th.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Josh Saunders Re-Ups


Just minutes ago, NYCFC announced that they had come to terms with goalkeeper Josh Saunders on a contract extension:
New York City FC signs Josh Saunders to New Contract

December 17, 2015
1:52 PM EST


New York City FC is pleased to announce that goalkeeper Josh Saunders has signed a new multi-year contract extension. Saunders started 33 games for the Club this season and recorded four clean sheets in New York City’s inaugural campaign. Per Club and League policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Speaking to NYCFC.com, one thing Saunders said he treasures most is the relationship and connection that he has with New York City FC’s fans.

“I love playing for this club”, said Saunders. “It’s a great honor for me and I’m definitely looking forward to playing in front of our fans again next season. I think the bond with the supporters is great. It’s not just an emotional connection. It helps the players and the fans alike because when you come into our stadium it’s intimidating. Having them truly cheer for people that they care for is great. The team is excited to get back to training soon and begin the hard work and preparation for next season.”

Saunders, who led Major League Soccer with 124 saves and was named New York City FC Defensive Player of the Year, credits goalkeeping coach Rob Vartughian for helping him to a successful first season in New York.

“Rob helped me tremendously. He put in a lot of work with me early on in the year and his work showed in my performances. I can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done and I look forward to working with him again.”

Sporting Director Claudio Reyna also expressed delight at re-signing the goalkeeper, “Retaining Josh was always part of our offseason plans. He is a tremendous leader and displays all of the personal and professional qualities we look for in a New York City FC player. He had a great season last year and clearly has a special relationship with our supporters.”

Echoing those comments, incoming Head Coach, Patrick Vieira, is thrilled about the extension.

“I’m delighted that Josh has signed a new deal with the Club and am really looking forward to working with him next season,” said Vieria. “He is a fantastic professional and is very experienced in this league; he will be an important leader for us both on the pitch and in the locker room.”

Looking forward to next season, Saunders said, “I’d like to have even better performances. Everyone said I had a good season, but I’m critical of myself. I feel like I let in too many goals. I take that personally, so I look at every angle to get better. I also think having MLS veterans is hugely important because we know the demands and rigors of the league. We can sit down and relay that information to the younger players on the roster, it only helps in the long run.”

Josh Saunders was nominated for Major League Soccer’s “Save of the Week” 11 times during the 2015 season and won New York City FC’s Etihad Airways Player of the Month on three separate occasions (March, April and October).
"Per Club and League policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed." How I hate that phrase.

I'm glad to see this, though. He kept us in many games, especially some of those early ones. And without a whole lot of help in the back.

Here are some of his highlights from 2015:

Thursday, December 10, 2015

NYCFC Acquires Ethan White from Philadelphia

We have a new defender: Ethan White, acquired from the Philadelphia Union.

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

New York City FC has announced today the acquisition of defender Ethan White from Philadelphia Union. In return New York City FC will send Philadelphia it’s natural 2017 fourth-round SuperDraft pick.

A 24-year-old native of Kensington, Md, the central defender played for Maryland University and was part of the US U-18 and U-20 player pools before signing a Homegrown Player contract with D.C. United in 2010. White would go on to make 38 appearances for DC, including a start in the 2013 Lamar Hunt Open Cup final that D.C. United won.

White then moved to the Philadelphia Union where he made 26 appearances after being acquired in January 2014 via trade.

White said, “I’m really pleased. It’s a great opportunity for me to join an exciting club that's looking to do big things. I’m very happy to be a part of this and I am determined to help the club achieve success. I'm already looking forward to joining my new teammates for pre-season”

Sporting Director Claudio Reyna said, “We are excited to add an athletic and experienced center-half in Ethan White to our roster. He is a young player and we are looking forward to working with him and developing his game even further.”
You can learn more about White from his player page on MLSsoccer.com.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

DC United Badge Leaked? (UPDATED)

We've known for a while that DC United was getting a new badge, and here it is:


It was leaked by the MLS online shop as they prepare to start selling stuff.


The badge is a huge improvement over their current badge (right), not to mention their 1994-96 badge (left):


This one keeps a clear visual link with its forebearer. For my own part, I would have redesigned the eagle; I prefer the sharper wings in this supposed "draft" leak, seen about a month ago:


Congrats to our friends down in DC. I look forward to seeing it all over the place on my next trip to RFK.



UPDATE: Confirmed.


I'm always interested in seeing how teams handle this process.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Grabavoy a Free Agent

Thje evolution of Major League Soccer continues, as the first-ever class of free agents has been announced. NYCFC has only one eligible player: midfielder Ned Grabavoy.


From the league's press release:
Major League Soccer announced its first-ever class of free agents on Monday eligible to negotiate new contracts with any of the league’s 20 clubs beginning on Tuesday afternoon.

According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement agreed to earlier this year, players who were either out of contract or didn’t have their option picked up following the 2015 season and are at least 28 years old and have a minimum of eight years of service in MLS are eligible for free agency. Clubs will be allowed to start negotiating with free agents at 1 pm ET on Tuesday.

The full list players eligible for free agency (previous team listed):
GK Jon Busch (Chicago Fire)
GK Troy Perkins (Seattle Sounders)
GK Kyle Reynish (New York Red Bulls)
GK Andrew Weber (Portland Timbers)

DF Corey Ashe (Orlando City SC)
DF Bobby Burling (Colorado Rapids)
DF Ty Harden (Chicago Fire)
DF Michael Harrington (Colorado Rapids)
DF Stephen Keel (FC Dallas)
DF Drew Moor (Colorado Rapids)
DF James Riley (Colorado Rapids)

MF Eric Avila (Orlando City SC)
MF Brian Carroll (Philadelphia Union)
MF Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo)
MF Ned Grabavoy (New York City FC)
MF Nick LaBrocca (Colorado Rapids)
MF Jeff Larentowicz (Chicago Fire)
MF Justin Mapp (Montreal Impact)
MF Paulo Nagamura (Sporting Kansas City)
MF Khari Stephenson (San Jose Earthquakes)
MF Nathan Sturgis (Houston Dynamo)

FW Chad Barrett (Seattle Sounders)
FW Edson Buddle (LA Galaxy)
FW Conor Casey (Philadelphia Union)
FW Kenny Cooper (Montreal Impact)
FW Alan Gordon (LA Galaxy)
FW Mike Magee (Chicago Fire)

Monday, December 7, 2015

City Voice Poll: Relocation?

There's an interesting poll up on City Voice right now:


That seems like a high number of seat moves, and I wonder how much of that is determined by Yankee Stadium. We didn't know what an MLS game would be like there, but now we've all had seventeen games to experiment, check out other sections and see where we really want to be.

I also suspect there are some people who chose seats near the supporters' section and now wish they hadn't, but more who stayed away and wished they were in the thick of it.

For my own part, I moved my seats and upped my season tickets from two to three.

No word yet on how renewals are going. NYCFC sold 20,000 season tickets for their inaugural campaign; they need to be targeting at least that many in the sophomore season.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Tim-bers!


The Portland Timbers are the MLS Cup Champions for 2015.


The game got off to a quick start with Diego Valeri scoring in the first minute on an awful goalkeeping error:


It reminded me of Steve Hunt's goal for the Cosmos in the 1977 Soccer Bowl:



Plenty of highlights in this game — the Timbers were unlucky to only score twice — and one distinctly ugly moment following the second goal, as Columbus fans pelted the Timbers players with beer cans.


Congrats to the Timbers Army. Great supporters, they deserve this and more. Looking forward to seeing them again in the Bronx, where we'll be able to give them a better game than last time.

Friday, December 4, 2015

2016 Match Ball Leaked

I haven't seen an announcement, but it appears that the 2016 match ball has been leaked by the MLS online store.


They're continuing the star/maple leaf graphics.


Check it out here: http://www.mlsstore.com/catalog/product/MLS_adidas_Orange_2016_OMB_Soccer_Ball