Monday, December 26, 2016

New Shirt Leak?


This looks like the 2017-18 home shirt.

Let's take a closer look at the image:

Many on social media are saying that the club has removed orange from the badge, but it's clearly still there despite the general tint of the photo. They have added orange to the shirt, in the form on pinstriping on the shirt cuffs (bordered by navy as usual, the club almost never puts orange next to sky blue).

Gone is the white. The neckline and Adidas stripes are now navy blue. The stripes are shorter than the previous home kit as well, stopping at the shoulder seam rather than continuing down the sleeve.

We can't see the jock tag in this photo, but the jersey appears to be a replica—no MLS patch on the left sleeve—so this particular one likely wouldn't have one anyway.

Check out the neck tape, with the boroughs listed. This checks out - the design was voted on by supporters late last year.

Looks legit. And I like it for our Pigeons. Now let's see what shorts and socks they pair it with.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Topps Sautes the M-Villa-P

Topps Now has announced that they're going to press on a special card to celebrate David Villa being named the 2016 MLS MVP:

You can buy your copy here. They will be available for 24 hours, and Topps will only print as many as are ordered in that time.

Third Rail members, check out your membership app for an exclusive deal!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


David Villa is your MLS MVP for 2016!

He took home 25.9% of the total vote, but what's interesting is the breakdown:

The media was split evenly between Villa, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sebastian Giovinco, but the players and clubs voted for him overwhelmingly. Makes me wonder how many voters there are in the press.

Couldn't happen to a more deserving guy - Villa is a real treasure, tirelessly working for the team on and off the pitch. I'm proud to have him representing my club.

Here's the awards ceremony:

Monday, November 14, 2016

Farewell, Frank!

The club isn't wasting much time, announcing today that they will not extend Frank Lampard's contract.

Frank's time in New York began with controversy, and was marred by injury, but he always came through on the pitch.

I'll miss him, but am excited to see what the club has in store for that DP spot. With rumors circulating that Pirlo may be about to retire, our Pigeons could look very different next year.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Highlights: NYC 0, Toronto 5 (0-7 Aggregate)

Well, that's that.

We were totally outclassed in this one. Looked like we were playing with eight men.

These guys really made me believe for a minute that we could go all the way, but Toronto showed us how much work there is left to do. Still, a pretty good sophomore year, especially under the new skipper. I just wish we could have seen one playoff goal.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Highlights: Toronto 2, NYC 0 (First Leg)

Well, we dug a little hole for ourselves in Toronto.

Still excited to see the game in Yankee Stadium, but just one goal from Toronto in that second leg will be hard to overcome. I wonder if it woulnd't be better for the higher seeds to start at home, let them build a dominant lead and give them the away-goal advantage going into the second leg.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Highlights: NYC 4, Columbus 1

Back on track to close out the regular season at Yankee Stadium with a bang.

A rare look at the road Hypnokits at home.

This win seals a first-round bye for our Boys in Blue.

Also worth noting that if Villa's shot in the 49th minute hadn't bounced off both the near and then far posts, he would have tied for the Golden Boot.

See you at Yankee Stadium for the playoffs!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

WIN! Now Available on iTunes

Win!, the behind-the-scenes documentary of ramp up to the club's first season, is now available on iTunes.

I've heard a lot of great things about this film. Can't wait to finally see it.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Highlights: DC 3, NYC 1

A disappointing result in DC, as we lose ground on the top seed.

A certain measure of revenge from Patrick Mullins against his old club, but it's the play of Josh Saunders that still frustrates me. Keeper has to be a priority in the off-season.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Highlights: Club Necaxa 2, NYC 1

New York went down to Mexico for an off-week friendly.

Spreading the City's fame all across the continent!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Highlights: Houston 0, NYC 2

Villa scores again! And again!

A rare sighting of the Hypnotoad kits in action.

Friday, September 2, 2016

"Frank Lampard Day"

Last night, before the match, Frank Lampard was honored for his 300 career goals in a pre-game ceremony.

The city honored him by proclaiming September 1, 2016 "Frank Lampard Day".


Sporting Director Claudio Reyna presented him with a framed "300" jersey.


Marty Edelman, Vice Chairman of NYCFC, presented Frank with what was announced as a commemorative ring designed by the club.


We didn't get a look at what was in the wooden box, though; I'd be very curious to see what the ring looks like.

This was all just a warm-up for a really cracking match, complete with storybook ending that saw Frank the hero of his own day.

With a 1-1 draw going into the closing minutes of the game, Frank showed why he has earned all the honors (not to mention that $6 million paycheck). He broke a 1-1 draw in the 85th minute with a strike to put the Pigeons ahead. And when the visitors drew level again in stoppage time, Frank scored the 302nd goal of his career in the 93rd minute to seal the game and establish his legacy with the club.

Given all the struggles, the false starts, and all the naysaying from the press, this must have been an incredibly gratifying night.

(Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy)

Congratulations, Frank. You earned it.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Highlights: NYC 3, DC 2

What an amazing match at Yankee Stadium tonight. After a listless and uninspired first half, head coach Patrick Vieira made some sharp substitutions at the half and New York City finally broke through.

Of course, the hero of the night was Frank Lampard. On the day when he was honored by the club and city for his 300th career goal, he scored to break a draw in the 85th minute and then again in the 93rd to claim all three points.

Outstanding. What an amazing night in the Bronx.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Rep Your City, No Matter What City You're In

Okay, I'm pretty proud of this one. A quick pic from our family holiday:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Highlights: Orlando 2, NYC 1

Jason takes Manhattan New York City.

Would've made a good horror movie. And this would have made a good tifo.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Highlights: NYC 1, Los Angeles 0

A controversial goal in the sixth minute from the foot of David Villa was the difference, as City beat the Angelinos at Yankee Stadium.

Here's the goal in question:

We'll take it any way we can get it. Still first in the East!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

"Thousands Are Red"?

The Red Bulls' 2017 membership promotional team continues to tear it up.


Not "tens of thousands" or even just "many thousands" but just simply "thousands"?

Heck, the Third Rail alone can claim thousands of members. If that's the best you can do, Red Bull GmbH, then maybe your copywriters should have avoided numbers altogether.

Monday, August 8, 2016

David Villa, "Sweeping the Clouds Away"

NYCFC has long taken a street-level approach to their marketing, but this is the first time they've taken that as far as Sesame Street. David Villa made a guest appearance alongside Rosita and Cookie Monster:

Me have faith in you soccer ability too, David Villa.

The club also uploaded this interview with the "cast":

And this behind-the-scenes look:

I love it, and not only because there's a significant overlap between Sesame Street viewers and NYCFC fans in my apartment.

Because New York is Blue. From the Bronx all the way down to Sesame Street.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Highlights: San Jose 0, NYC 0

Our Boys in Blue pulled out a point in San Jose last night, thanks largely to the play of Josh Saunders.

I've been critical of Saunders lately, but he played out of his mind tonight.

I was working until early Saturday morning, so I followed it via WFAN's online stream. This was the first game I've listened to them cover without any video at all. Judging from the highlight video, I think I picked a good one.

Friday, August 5, 2016

A New Red Jersey For a Red New Jersey

One of the side effects of buying away tickets is that I end up on the mailing list for a lot of teams around the Northeast. One of those is the Red Bulls, and I'm always curious to see how they reach out to what they think is a potential fan.

Today, Harrison sent this to my Inbox:

"Red Member", of course, being their season ticket holders. I guess "City Member" really isn't much better, but you'd think that the two marketing campaigns could come up with something a little more catchy.

So this is their big season ticket gift for next year. Let's take a closer look at that graphic.

I do like the silver, and distributing all-red jerseys to your most ardent fans is a great way to create a unified field of red in the stands at Red Bull Arena. But let's look at the jersey itself.

Lots of half-hearted marketing speak in that graphic, but it boils down to this "pregame jersey" being something which will be worn by the players on the pitch before the match. The jersey itself is the standard 2016 Adidas training top template, nothing terribly groundbreaking about it.

Compare it to the New York City FC training jersey from this season: note the accent color on part of the collar, the Adidas three stripes down the side and the raglan sleeves. It's obviously the same template.

In fact, it's exactly the same as the Red Bulls' current training jersey, just with silver in place of white and an all-silver badge:

And. of course, sponsor patches.

That's the strangest thing about it. Yanmar is a tractor and marine engine manufacturer, and a Red Bulls' training shirt sponsor. I understand fans wanting the most "authentic" jersey possible, or at least being inured to seeing them on the jerseys for sale. NYCFC sells versions of its training top with or without the NewYork-Presbyterian logo across the chest, but I've never seen anyone actually wearing one with the logo. Putting a sponsor logo on membership gifts for people spending hundreds (if not thousands of dollars) seems more than a little crass.

I don't think this new shirt is half as interesting as their membership gift last year, which was a red-and-silver version of the Anthem jackets:

The Anthem jackets are also about twice the wholesale cost of the training tops, so read into that what you will.

I'll give the Red Bulls credit for one thing, though. They have their renewals (and renewal gifts) out there early. I haven't seen what NYCFC has planned for us, although they've already sent out the first notices of our upcoming renewal.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Topps Commemorates Frank's Hat Trick

Earlier this year, the Topps trading card company introduced a new program called "TOPPS NOW" to commemorate baseball events as soon as they happen.
Imagine your favorite player throwing a no-hitter, and then getting a card of that special moment the very next day! Starting April 4, baseball fans everywhere will get the opportunity to do so.

The Topps Company is proud to introduce TOPPS NOWtm, a product that will depict the greatest moments and milestones from the 2016 Major League Baseball season almost as soon as they happen. The physical cards will be available the very next day to purchase through, but for just 24 hours, and will not be available for purchase again.
No longer limiting it to America's Pastime, Topps is right now offering a card celebrating Frank Lampard's hat trick against Colorado!

If you want one, head over to the Topps site now - the 24 hours expires today at 2:00 pm Eastern.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Wilmington Hammerheads To Sit Out 2017 Season

Scratching the Pitch is reporting that the Wilmington Hammerheads, NYCFC's affiliate in the USL, will be sitting out the 2017 season.
As if losing 4-1 to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds was not enough bad news for Hammerheads fans, a somewhat unexpected bit of news to come out of the USL midseason meetings is that Wilmington does not plan to compete in 2017. This report comes from independent sources within the league. Jason Arnold, Wilmington Hammerheads FC General Manager, was contacted but could not comment on the 2017 season.

This will not be the first time that the Hammerheads have sat out a year. After winning the USL D2 regular season championship in 2009, Wilmington skipped the 2010 season that saw the USSF take control of operating a second division professional league in the U.S. When USL PRO began competing in 2011, the Hammerheads were back on the pitch with a new ownership group led by Bill Rudisill.

Perhaps the Hammerheads, located in one of the league’s smallest markets, feel that restructuring is needed in order to keep pace with the growth in stature of the USL. George Altirs, who purchased ownership from Bill Rudisill after the 2013 season, may need time to find another new owner or additional investment partners.

Wilmington has shown the ability to bounce back after a season-long hiatus in the past. Hopefully it can happen again for soccer fans in the Port City.
We'll see what happens with them, but in the meantime NYCFC will need an affliate club. I wonder if this means we might see them field an NYCFC2, as so many other MLS clubs have. If not, then we can look around the league for a replacement.

The Harrisburg (PA) City Islanders are about 175 miles west of the Hudson River, and they are currently unaffiliated with an MLS club. They had been the Union affiliate for five years before Bethlehem Steel FC was founded last year.

So they're close, available, and wear the right color scheme.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Highlights: NYC 5, Colorado 1

Rain at Yankee Stadium couldn't drown our spirits, as NYCFC put up its best margin of victory ever against one of the best teams in the league, the Colorado Rapids. And Frank Lampard scored the first hat trick in NYCFC history!

Amazing match from our Pigeons. Colorado came in to this game with 38 points, more than any team in the Eastern and second in the Western only to FC Dallas at 41, but having three games in hand over the Texans. To beat this team is an amazing accomplishment, much less to destroy them, much less to destroy them with David Villa sitting out a suspension. Outstanding.

The only glimmer of gloom I can muster is that our Boys in Blue couldn't quite close it out, surrendering the clean sheet in the final stoppage time minutes. Stumbling in front of the finish line has been a consistent problem going back to last season, although it's perhaps a bit more excusable in this circumstance.

Today more than ever before, I'm singing:
Blue Skies,
Smiling at me,
Nothing but Blue Skies
Do I see!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Highlights: MLS All-Stars 1, Arsenal 2

I find it hard to get too interested in either All-Star games or Arsenal preseason friendlies, but the two came together yesterday.

NYCFC had two stars in the starting eleven, Andrea Pirlo and David Villa. They were substituted in the 32nd and 33rd minutes, respectively. Given our upcoming match against Colorado, that's definitely for the best.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Whatever Happened to the 2016 Captain's Armband?

I've been wondering for a couple weeks now - what happened to the special captain's armband for 2016?

In January of this year, the club held a contest where fans could vote on the armband design. The winner was a jaunty number based on the New York City flag.

However, I've noticed that Villa has continued to wear the same white armband that he wore all last season:

You can see it here in this photo from a match last year against Montreal:

So what happened? This was supposed to be a fun thing for the fans, but why was it abandoned? And why haven't we heard anything about it?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Highlights: Red Bulls 4, NYC 1

Deeply frustrating game, especially after finally beating them at home.

I really thought this might be the time we get them in New Jersey. The Red Bulls sure seem to get up for our games.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

"The Soccer Team That Plays at Yankee Stadium"

Seen deep below 14th Street, in the transfer tunnel between the Sixth and Seventh Avenue stations.

This could well be the least-successful ad the club has ever produced. I get the ironic feeling they're going for, but it misses the mark.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Highlights: Montreal 1, NYC 3

Maybe now we can right the ship, after that terrible performance in Kansas last week.

Man, Jack Harrison is amazing. I hate to heap too much hype on the kid, but this is just nasty:

And Frank Lampard continues to be the luckiest man in the sport. I'm willing to admit that it's his veteran skills allowing him to always be in the right place at the right time, but this deflection is just the dice rolling his way:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Top-Selling Jerseys on (so far)

MLS has announced the best-selling jerseys on for 2016 (so far), and there's good news for fans of the Boys in Blue.

Here's the Top twenty:
  1. Andrea Pirlo, New York City FC
  2. Clint Dempsey, Seattle Sounders FC
  3. David Villa, New York City FC
  4. Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders FC
  5. Steven Gerrard, LA Galaxy
  6. Kaká, Orlando City SC
  7. Didier Drogba, Montreal Impact
  8. Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC
  9. Frank Lampard, New York City FC
  10. Dom Dwyer, Sporting Kansas City
  11. Darlington Nagbe, Portland Timbers
  12. Diego Valeri, Portland Timbers
  13. Giovani dos Santos, LA Galaxy
  14. Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy
  15. Graham Zusi, Sporting Kansas City
  16. Nat Borchers, Portland Timbers
  17. Brad Evans, Seattle Sounders FC
  18. Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle Sounders FC
  19. Brek Shea, Orlando City SC
  20. Kei Kamara, New England Revolution
Three in the top ten. Not bad at all.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The "NYC Soccer Initiative" is Announced

Huge news for NYCFC today, as the club announces a partnership with Mayor de Blasio, Adidas, and the US Soccer Foundation to grow the game in our community. They will build and maintain fifty soccer fields in underserved neighborhoods of all five boroughs.

The full press release is here:
Mayor De Blasio, Mayor’s Fund To Advance NYC, U.S. Soccer Foundation, New York City Football Club and Adidas Launch NYC Soccer Initiative -Bringing 50 New Soccer Fields To Underserved Neighborhoods

NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the New York City Football Club and adidas today announced the launch of the New York City Soccer Initiative, a public-private partnership that will build and maintain 50 soccer fields in underserved neighborhoods across the five boroughs over the next five years. Fields will begin to open for play as early as next year.

“These new soccer fields will be essential in keeping our young New Yorkers safe, active and connected with the community. With this partnership, we are tackling inequalities in all its forms – including in our parks and outdoor spaces,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “In the city of immigrants, with so many different languages and cultures, the New York City Soccer Initiative will be one of the great tools we use to unify young New Yorkers. My thanks to the Mayor’s Fund, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, New York City Football Club and adidas for coming together and building a meaningful program.”

“When we can make space for children to play in, we’re saying that we’re invested in their long term health and wellbeing,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The City Soccer Initiative will open the doors to a whole new world for kids who may otherwise not have access to these programs. Healthy kids grow up to be productive adults, and I thank the administration, the New York City Football Club, adidas and the U.S. Soccer Foundation for giving South Bronx and East Harlem children the opportunity to experience the exciting world of soccer.”

"The U.S. Soccer Foundation is honored to work with the New York City Football Club, adidas and the City of New York to make a major impact in the City’s five boroughs. The U.S. Soccer Foundation is committed to growing the sport of soccer and using the game as a vehicle to improve health and social outcomes among children in underserved communities. The commitment of strong partners like these underscores the importance of this work and represents a big step toward transforming the landscape in this great city and across the nation,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President and CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation.

"This is a special day for the New York City Football Club. Community has been an integral part of this Club since the very beginning," said Jon Patricof, President of New York City Football Club. "We have seen through the work of our extensive community programs that soccer has the ability to change lives. This initiative will give access to pitches and help us deliver our programming to thousands of New York City school kids in every borough, and we are thrilled to be a part of it"

“We believe that through sports, we have the power to change people’s lives,” said Ernesto Bruce, Senior Director of Soccer for adidas. “Sports gives young people so many amazing social, emotional and physical benefits that reward them for life. But there’s a lot threatening sports today – including safe access for kids to play. Today’s announcement to create and maintain 50 soccer fields, spread across the five boroughs of New York City will help bring sports to more kids, giving them a sense of team and community they might not otherwise have. We‘ve enjoyed partnering with Mayor Bill de Blasio; the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC; the U.S. Soccer Foundation; and the New York City Football Club in the development of this project thus far and are eager to have the fields become a vital, thriving part of the larger communities that they serve.”

“By pooling public and private resources and expertise to implement creative solutions that address our toughest challenges, the New York City Soccer Initiative is improving the lives of New Yorkers,” said Gabrielle Fialkoff, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships. “With increased opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating in our most underserved communities, paired with enriching programming for young people, we are putting these kids on a path to success.”

"New York City Football Club is extremely proud to be part of today's announcement," said New York City Football Club Vice Chair Marty Edelman. “The New York City Soccer Initiative is a significant investment in the future of soccer in New York City, and alongside our programs which reach thousands of kids across the five boroughs, this is another example of how we can use the power of soccer to transform young people's lives and enrich their communities.”

New York City Football Club players, David Villa, Frank Lampard and Jason Hernandez; and Head Coach Patrick Vieira; and Sporting Director Claudio Reyna joined the announcement, which comes with a pledge from all four partners to invest a total of $3 million to build and maintain the fields and provide free programming for New York City school children focused on healthy, active living and mentorship.

The program will provide after-school soccer and mentoring programs, such as soccer clinics, festivals and youth summits to promote safe, active and connected communities. The New York City Soccer Initiative will also include a partnership with the City’s Young Men’s Initiative, providing young men of color with mentorship opportunities.

Through the construction of these new fields, the New York City Soccer Initiative will aim to connect more young people to soccer, expand U.S. Soccer Foundation’s nationally-recognized soccer after-school program – Soccer for Success ­– and repurpose underutilized spaces in our most underserved neighborhoods, creating a safe, public area where a community can gather. All of the neighborhoods being selected to host the New York City Soccer Initiative fields are focuses of the Mayor’s Building Healthy Communities Initiative, the Parks Department’s Community Parks Initiative or the Young Men’s Initiative.

Evidence shows that connecting young people – especially those in the lowest-income communities – to mentorship opportunities early on is directly correlated to future success in high school, college and their careers. The New York City Soccer Initiative supports Mayor de Blasio’s OneNYC goal of ensuring that New Yorkers of all ages can live, work, learn and play in neighborhoods that promote an active and healthy lifestyle.

The New York City Soccer Initiative will utilize the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success program – a recipient of the White House’s 2011 Social Innovation Fund Award – and builds off the success of the New York City Football Club’s Healthy Hat-Trick program. Together, those initiatives have served more than 15,000 young people with after-school programming in New York City. These programs are proven to have had a positive impact on their young participants throughout the five boroughs:

73 percent said the programs helped them to make healthier food choices;
83 percent said it helped to improve their confidence;
70 percent have said they now enjoy going to school more.

The New York City Soccer Initiative fields will be constructed to ensure year-round functionality. In addition, the New York City Football Club will create a fund to support the ongoing maintenance of the fields. The first eight sites are as follows:
  1. J.H.S. 166 George Gershwin – Brooklyn, DOE
  2. Cypress Hills Houses, Brooklyn, NYCHA
  3. Irwin Altman Middle School 172, Queens, DOE
  4. South Jamaica Houses, Queens, NYCHA
  5. Millbrook Playground, Bronx, Parks
  6. Eagle Academy For Young Men Of Staten Island, Staten Island, DOE
  7. Harlem Lane Playground, Manhattan, Parks
  8. P.S. 083 Luis Munoz Rivera, Manhattan, DOE
“At New York City Parks, it's our job to make sure that New Yorkers – our children especially – have the chance to get involved in sports and fitness activities. Thanks to the Mayor’s office, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the New York City Football Club and adidas, those opportunities have now expanded,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP.

“Children reap critical benefits from exercise and it’s critical to form healthy fitness habits at a young age to support their physical and mental health," said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. "The New York City Soccer Initiative will provide safe outdoor space for children to engage in physical activity, have fun playing soccer and also learn about the importance of making healthy choices and being active. As a big soccer fan myself, I know the significant impact this will have on students and families – including in many of our immigrant communities – across the City.”

“NYCHA is a proud partner in this initiative bringing soccer fields to neighborhoods that need them – and we’re thrilled that two of our developments will directly benefit,” said NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye. “These fields and this program will bring people together and provide additional opportunities for exercise and healthy competition – helping us create more connected NYCHA communities and improving quality of life for residents across the five boroughs.”

Congressman Charles Rangel said, “I applaud Mayor de Blasio for fostering this public-private partnership through the New York City Soccer Initiative that will serve youths in our congressional district after the last bell – at Harlem Lane Playground and at P.S. 83 Luis Munoz Rivera School. The Soccer for Success program will provide consistent mentorship, exercise and recreation to our children who will learn not only to play a sport, but also be part of a team.”

"The Bronx suffers from disproportionately high rates of obesity, asthma, heart disease, and other chronic health issues. This new initiative will play an important role in combating these health disparities by creating state-of-the-art soccer fields that will encourage physical activity and promote healthier living,” said State Senator Jose M. Serrano.

“I applaud the Mayor, adidas, the U.S. Soccer Foundation and the New York City Football Club for spearheading this initiative ; anything that creates the opportunity for individuals to exercise, play sports and enjoy the outdoors in their local neighborhood benefits the entire community.” said State Senator Leroy Comrie. “I look forward to the creation of these new soccer fields and hope that the Mayor’s Office continues to support youth programming so that these spaces are fully utilized going forward.”

“I'd like to thank the Mayor, the New York City Football Club, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, and adidas for bringing a soccer field to our community,” said Assembly Member Rodriguez. “This new amenity will be a catalyst to promote healthy habits, teach leadership skills and inspire our youth. Thanks to their generosity, East Harlem kids will no longer be left on the sidelines.”

Assembly Member Francisco Moya said, "Growing up in Queens, some of my earliest memories are of learning to play football in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The announcement today of the New York City Soccer Initiative to build new football facilities in underserved communities will give more children in our great city a chance to play the beautiful game. With the growth of football's popularity, as well as the South American population, these pitches will provide greatly needed relief to our current facilities that overwhelmed with use. I applaud the Mayor, the New York City Football Club, adidas, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation for partnering up to provide the kids in communities like mine the chance to make memories that will last a lifetime."

“Thanks to the New York City Soccer Initiative; thousands of children, teens and soccer fans from across the city will now have access to state-of-the-art soccer fields, as well as expert led mentoring and training programs” said Assembly Member David Weprin. “I am especially pleased that one of these soccer fields will be located in the 24th Assembly District at the Irwin Altman Middle School, and I applaud Mayor Bill de Blasio for scoring a goal for active and healthy lifestyles.”

Assembly Member Matthew Titone said, “All children should have a good education, healthy food and the opportunity to exercise. Bringing the world’s most popular sport to underserved neighborhoods will help our youth become more fit and provide an outlet for positive activity.”

Council Member Barry Grodenchik said, "I am delighted to see the City investing in youth programs. As a former little league coach, I understand firsthand how beneficial sports can be. This initiative will serve thousands of young New Yorkers and provide important mentorship and after school programs throughout the five boroughs.”

Council Member Deborah Rose said, "This public-private New York City Soccer initiative is a welcome investment in my district, an investment that will not only enrich the lives of countless young people, but also the long-term health of our city as a whole"
This is outstanding news not only in its own right, but for what it could represent for the future. The Mayor's office obviously recognizes the role that NYCFC and the sport can play in the community, which can't hurt us when it's time to start talking stadium again.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Highlights: Sporting KC 3, NYC 1

An embarrassing loss on the road.

I watched this one at Banter Bar in Williamsburg; great place, ran into some old friends from the Third Rail, but man what an awful match. The team just gave up.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Highlights: New England 0, NYC 1

City escapes from Foxborough with a narrow win.

A bit lucky at that; Villa's bullet knocked off the crossbar, Saunders had more bad clearances, and Shuttleworth was great in goal for the Revolution.

Frank Lampard's goal was the difference:

He scores with his chest, he scores with his thigh!

I watched this game at Longbow in Bay Ridge. A fantastic pub, my first time there. Love an Old Speckled Hen with my football.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Highlights: NYC 2, Red Bulls 0

Finally got over the hump!

What an amazing day. The previous games are all forgotten, and all I can do is sing:
Blue Skies,
Smiling at me,
Nothing but Blue Skies
Do I see!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Highlights: Seattle 0, NYC 2

Fantastic result in Seattle.

Frank has a tendency to get himself in just the right place to make an impact.

The luckiest man in the sport.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Why We Love David Villa

David Villa is my seven-year-old son's favorite player, and has been since he was the only player on the roster. It wasn't until this weekend that I truly understood why.

Watch this second goal from this past weekend's match. It begins with the ball in Josh Saunders's hands. Saunders throws it to Jack Harrison, who powers all the way down the pitch. Harrison can't quite finish it off, as he picks up two defenders and loses the angle. But without even looking, Harrison backheels it to Villa, who puts it in.

Now watch what Villa does immediately afterwards.

He points at Harrison, and then waves him over so the two can celebrate together.

Before he even celebrates the goal, Villa reaches out to bring in the new kid. It would be so easy to grab all the glory for himself, but our Captain shares it. That's a leader. And that's why we love David Villa.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Highlights: NYC 3, Philadelphia 2

What a beautiful day in the Bronx, as the three DPs each score a goal to put New York City ahead of the Philadelphia Union.

Frank Lampard got the scoring off with this shot in the 8th minute. Frank puts himself in the perfect place to pick up Tommy McNamara's blocked shot and put it in the back of the net

I don't think that was in any way intentional, but it was brilliant.

The second goal of the match was one of my favorite runs all season. Josh Saunders throws the ball to Jack Harrison, who powers his way down the pitch. Harrison picks up two defenders, loses the angle and without even looking kicks it backwards to David Villa who puts it in for his league-leading eleventh goal.

After those two, it's fitting that Andrea Pirlo scored his first MLS goal.

Simply beautiful. I love watching him play.

After taking that 3-0 lead early, we let Philadelphia back into the match when we should have put them away conceding a penalty and an own goal from Frédéric Brillant; that late-match collapse is as disconcerting as it is familiar.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Highlights: NYC 2, Orlando 2

A very unsatisfying draw in the Bronx.

After cruising to a lead, they let Orlando back in the game and finally surrendered the equalizer in the 94th minute. Closing has long been this team's problem, and it continues this year.

Villa's botched penalty shot looms large right now.

Friday, May 20, 2016

"Patrick Vieira, New York City FC and the Third Rail"

The Guardian is reprinting an interesting story about our new skipper, originally published in Eight by Eight magazine.

Patrick Vieira, New York City FC and the Third Rail

He’s a World Cup winner, and a man who captained a team to an undefeated Premier League season. So what the hell is Patrick Vieira doing in New York?

Corley Miller
Thursday 19 May 2016 06.00 EDT

Down in the concrete guts of Yankee Stadium, a little after 3pm on a jewel-cut January Wednesday, Patrick Vieira sits down for an interview with ESPN’s Shaka Hislop. Vieira’s in hour seven of what’ll end (this evening, in a midtown bar) as a 13-hour press day introducing him as new manager of New York City Football Club. Hour seven, so far, looks a lot like hour six: Vieira slowly orbiting the empty pine boxes of the visitor’s locker room, answering for an alphabet of TV networks the same few questions he’s already answered in hour four’s press conference and hour five’s radio interviews. How will your NYCFC play? Who are your managerial idols? Are you worried about the MLS? What brought you to New York?

In general, Vieira’s handling all of this – and the press-side screw-ups, like the photographer who asks him to spend 10 minutes posing for a shot she has irredeemably mislit – with levels of patience you’d associate with an animated grandmother rather than a new manager expected to lift a 17th-place side to approximately first. But he’s visibly glad to see Hislop, who was, in 2006, one of the first well-known players to make the move from Europe to Major League Soccer that Vieira’s now attempting as manager. Before that, the pair played against each other in the Premier League’s middle decade, when Vieira was the world’s best central midfielder. They laugh all the way through the mic check.

On camera, Vieira tells Hislop he’ll have “no excuses” in his first senior managerial appointment, that he’s attracted to the NYCFC “project,” and that he wants the team to “play to win games.” Off camera, he tells Hislop that he’s well, that his family’s enjoying the city, and that they should all get together when he’s back in town. It’s perfect sitcom New York: two old campaigners meeting accidentally, still handsome and proud, trading phone numbers here in the center of the universe. Except – Vieira isn’t sure. Shaka knows the UK number – no, disconnected, Vieira has an American phone, definitely, yes, it’s activated, he’s waving it around hopefully. In the end NYCFC’s media director has to step in. Vieira’s moved so recently he doesn’t know his own phone number.

It’s the only time all day we see how far he’s come to be here – but it doesn’t seem to trouble him. At the end of the day, Vieira tells me, “I think football reflects our society. Our society changes. The evolution of society dictates the evolution of the game.” He says this with the confident wonder of every new New Yorker, sitting on a folding chair with a baseball-themed rug stretching out beneath him. NYCFC has played one season of football, in which it conceded a league-worst 58 goals.

Vieira’s stated aspirations as manager of NYCFC are “to be the best that I can.”

Keep in mind, though, that he’s a World Cup winner, that he’s captained an undefeated Premier League season, and that this appointment is something like a three-year audition for the manager’s role at Manchester City – one of the biggest jobs in football. Manchester City is NYCFC’s big brother, Vieira’s just come from a successful two-year tenure coaching their Under-21s, and their executives have been forthright about hoping Vieira will return to England. When Vieira says “the best I can,” everyone knows he means the best, full stop.

The usual rules of football are that Patrick Vieira stays in Europe. Football’s “bests” live there, after all: best players, best leagues, best managers. In the United States, football matches are still played in baseball stadiums. NYCFC holds home games (as well as interviews) at Yankee Stadium, and it’s awkward for everyone. Baseball is played on a blistered diamond with a red scab of infield, and NYCFC’s pitch has to be laid down on top of both shapes, with one goal in left field and the other by the first-base dugout. The conversion takes three days, in each direction, and early in the NYCFC-Yankees partnership, Yankee infielders could be quoted muttering darkly about possible “divots” and unpredictable grounders. But at least the five boroughs have a football club.

Football-wise, the US is defined by exactly this type of effortful incrementalism – grand plans to reach a semi-final, to nationalize some Champions League contributors, and find a way to screw things up a little less for players between 15 and 21. American footballing bests are snark superlatives: “best salary-capped league,” “best bargain goalkeepers,” or “best place for weary Euro-stars to build their brand before retiring.” All the way back to the New York Cosmos, the Big Apple’s been a place to end a career, not to begin one – so why is Vieira starting here?

It’s a hard question. What we want from sports are stories about souls – about humans and trials and virtues. Vieira is brave and talented; Vieira succeeds or Vieira fails; in the end we learn something about Vieira. That’s true, more or less, and also it’s comforting—it suggests that everyone deserves the life they get. But: society changes. Vieira’s moving to New York in 2016, and in 2016 souls just don’t cut it anymore. There’s no number of souls that explain why NYCFC play in a baseball stadium or why Vieira’s coaching in New York. You need money to answer these questions: NYCFC plays in Yankee Stadium because building a new stadium in a metropolis is unbelievably difficult and expensive, and Patrick Vieira’s coaching in America because football has a money problem that it doesn’t quite know how to solve.

The money in question is that of NYCFC’s majority owner – City Football Group, a holding company controlled by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour. Since 2008, CFG has invested something like $2bn in football – founding NYCFC, buying other clubs, but mostly turning Manchester City from a noble old goof into a regular Premier and Champions League contender. The plan, seemingly, is to build a family of dominant clubs on several continents and then profit as football becomes an even more lucrative global media property.

Generally, CFG is the smartest and cuddliest of the recent wave of football investment – in Manchester, it has spent heavily on youth and technical infrastructure, and while CFG has missed or overspent on some transfers, Manchester City have mostly satisfied their initial ambition of having two world-class players in every position. CFG clubs have likable players, progressive football, and obvious care for their local communities. They’re the sort of club that sells shirts in Portland and turns on televisions in Beijing. Things are working out to the point that when NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna says their ambition is to be “the best in MLS,” it doesn’t sound at all like bragging. It sounds, as Reyna says, like “setting high targets.” They’ve done it before.

But this is a business. CFG’s big insight about football is that modern clubs are corporations. And as a very rich corporation CFG wants football to be a story about money rather than a story about souls. Souls are downside risk. Souls are variance. Souls get homesick and fight with their girlfriends or teammates, and when they retire abruptly you’re really in trouble, and the people with the most money usually win. Manchester City’s two-player policy was a statement of intent, but it was also a hedge against the messiness of souls – at City, players are just as replaceable as anything else. As a corporation, a football club’s just a (very expensively produced) television show that also sells (expensive) T-shirts. Depending on any one individual too heavily invites an unproductive psychodrama.

But the one individual CFG can’t solve for is the manager. The players are still live, wobbly souls who go out to represent you every match week, and the manager’s their shepherd—he decides which of those two world-class players start, and what to tell the other one, and which youth to promote, and when to attack and when to counter. In general we understand the manager as the soul of the side—it’s the source of character, and whatever flaws it has you’re stuck with. There’s not another sitting on the bench.

And when a club like City do decide to get rid of a manager, a replacement is hard to find. Since 1995, the Premier League’s been won by Mourinho, Pellegrini, Ferguson, Mancini, Ancelotti, and Wenger. They – plus Guardiola, Van Gaal, and Benítez – are pretty much who a Manchester City – scale club would call about a vacancy. Too much money’s at stake to take risks. But that’s a poor list – retirees, rivals, psychodramas, and Benítez. That’s why Vieira’s in New York: whatever system’s supposed to periodically burp out new Champions League managers is badly out of order.

Ironically, it’s probably football’s love affair with money that’s making it hard for the richest sides to find new managers. For new players, City just reach down to smaller clubs like Wolfsburg or Aston Villa – talent translates upward. But society changes: 2016’s club-to-club inequality is so vast that managing a small club may not be any preparation for managing a big one. A manager at Manchester City has to be a bully. Has to whip his millionaires in line and send them out in every game – home or away, Barcelona or Bournemouth – with goal-scoring, shirt-selling swagger. Everywhere else, management is making do, convincing jaded vets to cower out a yearly 40 points against the drop and keep next year’s TV money. Here it’s easy to become David Moyes – paranoid, parsimonious, the kind of sideline miser who’s useless to the brand consumers of Seoul or Minneapolis.

So – how to make a manager? A Nevillesque start at a midsize European club might train Vieira into a flinch he can’t afford at the jobs he really wants; loitering Zidanishly behind the scenes at City risks an unaffordably bad season or two of adaptation. Another answer is: In a small league. Better to be the bully in Porto or New York than the bullied in Yorkshire; no manager who’s ever needed an away draw at Hull can claim to be a special one. And NYCFC have the makings of a bully: Even without mentioning CFG’s money, NYCFC is a talented side in a major media market with some of the league’s best and most marketable players. Bullies need schoolyards of their own. Among all American football’s gloomy bests, the one that matters here might be “best place to pick on some people of slightly less than your own size.”

For someone who’s in New York to learn to be a bully, Patrick Vieira is almost comically kind and tender. He’s big, still lithe, the center of every room he’s in, but his manner is soft, welcoming—almost therapeutic. You’d trust him to comfort you after a mugging but also to chase the mugger down and tie him gently around a lamppost. Note that this unusual combination of personal warmth and unfathomable physical authority is both overwhelmingly charismatic and almost certainly one of Vieira’s chief qualifications to manage a football team or to do any other job involving contact with human beings. If football management really is a judgment on one’s soul, Vieira is going to do just fine.

Ask Vieira if he planned to become a manager and he denies it immediately – “No no no,” he says with his breath, like a prayer or a regret. “It was just something that happened through the years.” At Mourinho’s Inter in 2010, paid but not much played, Vieira had wanted to come back to England. The reasoning was simple: “That’s where I played my best football.” He landed in the end at Manchester City, a club glad to have his leadership.

Vieira retired from playing the next year but wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. Brian Marwood, a forward-thinking ex-footballer who is now CFG’s managing director of football services, arranged a two-year rotating internship through the club’s various technical and back-office departments. Vieira scouted, bargained, financed, and eventually coached. “When I spent time in the academy,” he says, “exchanging ideas with young players, being on the field, the way they were looking at me—I loved it. And I felt really comfortable at it.” Within two years of retiring, he was managing the Under-21 side, for which he gives a great deal of credit to Marwood. “You need somebody to open your eyes, to tell you there’s things that you can do, and I had that person in Brian Marwood,” he says. “I think if I’m where I am today, it’s because of him.”

Where Vieira is today is beginning a career in which something like one manager per decade gets to the level he has targeted. And it seems characteristic of Vieira to give so much of the credit to someone who helped him. Vieira’s plain decency is a mixed blessing to anyone hoping to profile him, because on the one hand it’s a notable and relevant feature of the man, but on the other it makes him unlikely to say anything very explosive in an interview. He is generous and incisive when talking about himself (he lights up at the mention of Rémi Garde, a “really, really close friend” and fellow managerial beginner) but opaque about his plans for the side and his coaching philosophy. He wants the team to “reflect what New York is all about,” finds MLS a “really difficult league physically,” considers the MLS’s arcane roster rules “exciting”, and cares about encouraging “team spirit” and “togetherness” in the NYCFC side.

It’s no wonder he’s being safe: The team came 17th out of 20 teams in its first season, despite promising early moves. CFG’s first two NYCFC signings were astute – manager Jason Kreis was an ex-MLS player with a managerial record of unglamorous rosters, attractive modern football, and excellent Cup finishes; team captain David Villa one of the few designated players who could have still contributed in the European game. From the MLS expansion process, they took a solid core of Kreisy veterans (Ned Grabavoy, Chris Wingert) and interesting young talent (Kwadwo Poku, Mix Diskerud, Khiry Shelton) and augmented with Manchester City academy players. Things looked good, especially after two away draws and a home win in the first three games – but they eventually conceded a league-worst 58 goals despite their goalkeeper being named player of the month in three of the season’s 10 months.

What happened? Maybe Kreis was just a small-club coach – he lacked the soulful arrogance to get the club playing the way it needed to or the force of character to control the club’s three legendary designated players. Or maybe NYCFC just aren’t yet a very good football team. MLS is a talent-thin league, and NYCFC is largely composed of players taken in an expansion draft that excluded most existing starting XIs. Beyond the three designated players, NYCFC’s baseline is “not quite MLS starters.” If that’s the only problem, though, Vieira should be OK. There’s plenty of attacking talent in the side, and Vieira and Reyna have already started buying defenders.

The bigger concern has to do with NYCFC’s non-Villa designated players and the concerns they raise about CFG’s priorities. In mid-July last year, just before Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo arrived on consecutive late-summer match days, Kreis had the side playing decently. They’d taken a respectable 13 points from the last 7 games. And then the DPs showed up, and NYCFC took only 16 more points from the remaining 14 matches. Pirlo is the key here: a legendary player, a World Cup and Champions League winner who ran 90 minutes of a Champions League final in his last pre-NYCFC match. He’s 37 today, and still has both legs and quality as a deep-lying playmaker. That he’s sculptor-pretty, model-calm, and cerebral enough to title his autobiography I Think Therefore I Play doesn’t hurt either—a new club in a big city needs to make an imprint, and Pirlo’s exactly the kind of icon that’s helped NYCFC pop in local and national media.

But Pirlo is maybe not the precise player you’d want as linchpin of your MLS team. He was never the most physical of players, and MLS, as Vieira points out, is indeed physically demanding,” a league about away games in Vancouver and Orlando and populated by uniquely American strivers, Clemson alums who want nothing more than to prove their virtue by harrying an Italian legend. In the 2015 Champions League final, Juventus defended Pirlo with Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal – a youthful gladiatorial duo with a transfer value of something like $150m. In his first NYCFC season he got 37-year-old Frank Lampard and 30-year-old Andrew Jacobson, of Fort Myers, Florida.

Imagine how Jason Kreis would have felt about Pirlo’s addition to the side. The case against Pirlo we’re imagining Kreis making to CFG’s executives is not at all exotic or counterintuitive. The case against Pirlo is just the case against the mid-season introductions of undroppable, limited players into a team that’d just started to look decent. And remember that City are smart. Everyone in the CFG hierarchy could have – and must have – understood this. But Pirlo came anyway, and the team struggled. The question for Vieira is whether this, or something like it, is going to happen again. And how to handle Pirlo in the meantime? Pirlo sells shirts and column inches—and makes the team sheet a slightly harder logic problem. NYCFC’s near future has a lot of these decisions, chances to prioritize the club’s medium-term commercial viability or its results this weekend. No one knows which decisions are right or wrong – but Vieira’s going to be judged strictly on the on-field results.

Later that day, at a murky bar on 35th Street, Vieira talks to the fans. Outside, a laser-printed sheet has been slipped into the menu display. “Meet Patrick Vieira,” it promises in rag-right serif, above a gray photograph of the man himself. On the first floor, oblivious, are underwriters, analysts, salaried brunettes stirring lonely drinks. Vieira’s on the second floor, still in his club suit and white shirt, but looking comfortable for the first time all day. He laughs, smiles, discusses an actual tactic or two. A muted television shows the New York Knicks, losing. At a table in the back corner, a poker hand of NYCFC media look forward at Vieira with a savage, unrestrained admiration that looks, already, just a bit like love.

The fans here are from a group called the Third Rail. They’re New Yorkers, football fans. Young men with souls a little bigger and a little rougher than their bodies. Men who have wanted to brandish scarves aloft and sing. Men with glasses and expensive haircuts and Arsenal shirts they hope he’ll sign. One becomes a core NYCFC fan, it seems, by discovering sometime in one’s mid-20s that it is hard to feel important in New York, hard to feel first or best at anything. The Third Rail’s logo, hung on a flag behind Vieira, shows a blue art-deco fist clutching three jagged bolts of orange lightning. The allusion is to the local subway system’s power apparatus—a third conducting rail that runs alongside the standard two.

As you might imagine, the amperage necessary to run an 840-mile railroad system throughout a city is also amperage sufficient to flash-poach any citizen who touches this rail, which is why they’re both defended by protective covers and notorious in proverb as an important item or issue that’s too dangerous to discuss. NYCFC’s fans, who sing songs like “I wanna Disk-er-ud all night,” know that third rails are both deadly and vital, but they are happy to refer to a crucial urban element that both powers and kills. The fist in their logo is composed of calm ovals and orthogonals: Whatever the power, there’s a hand that can hold it. When Vieira finishes answering their questions, they’re around him in an eager throng, pressing, asking, smiling.

Well, look at this handful of bolts: Pirlo, Mansour, Poku, Lampard, Reyna, a position that’ll work for Mix, a way to tighten up that soft back four, always this grasping American press. Can one hand hold it all? Vieira’s done everything in football. He makes journalists want to do keepie-uppies to impress him and is as smart and safe before the press as any club could dream. No doubts remain about his public soul.

But the facts of management are facts behind closed doors: frantic halftime gestures, player meetings, faces after misplaced training passes, certainties about which defender from Pachuca or Cruzeiro will thrive when brought to live and train in Westchester and which will shiver and fail. The best managers of the past 20 years include a semi-pro fullback with a degree in economics, a club translator, an above-average Scottish striker, and a large number of Italians. There is no one in New York or Manchester or Abu Dhabi who can tell you whether Vieira’s NYCFC will make the playoffs, or beat the Red Bulls or solve Pirlo. Vieira himself can’t tell you.

Having to do all these things at once seems hard enough on its own, hard enough at a club whose only purpose was to make you win. Vieira’s paradox is that he’d never be here if it weren’t for CFG. Likely not in management, never in America, never with the full might of Manchester City and the global extractive economy behind him. But power that’s enough to live on is power that’s enough to kill. And the burdens that come with these privileges – to play your 30-something midfielders as often as they’re fit, to try and find minutes for the kids from Manchester – can seem like quite a bit of voltage for even Vieira’s capable fist to hold. If the rail proves ungraspable, if NYFC concede 53 more goals and miss the playoffs, it will be Vieira’s career that flounders and CFG whose reinvestment in club that’s made to look heroic. What if money can demand things that souls just can’t accomplish?

“If I’ve succeeded,” Vieira told me, “that means I will be here next year, and the year after, and the year after.” This man has moved his whole family to New York to coach a football team that plays in a baseball stadium. All he wants is to keep doing the job for long enough that he becomes the best he can. If Vieira, like football, is foreign in New York, he’s right at home. Our society changes. On the 4 train up to Yankee Stadium, subway advertisements offered affordable worker’s health-care and home delivery of consumer inessentials.

And there it is, spit-shined on the January morning: New York City, proud home of an FC, home for now of Patrick Vieira and of 8 million other protagonists, fists wrapped tight around their bolts of lightning, all of them just hoping they can find a way to be here next year.
Fascinating, if a little flowery. He obviously likes Matthew Wolff's logo.

I would caution both the Guardian and Eight by Eight that the Third Rail is not just made up of young men. We are young and old, male and female, straight and gay, native-born New Yorkers and immigrants who just arrived. We are as diverse as our great city, and every game we're there, "fists wrapped tight around (our) bolts of lightning".

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A New Home for the Open Cup?

Empire of Soccer is reporting that while we might host a US Open Cup match, it won't be on River Avenue.

NYCFC to host possible U.S. Open Cup draw vs. Cosmos – but not at Yankee Stadium
By Dave Martinez on 05/19/2016

The New York Cosmos hosted New York City FC at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium last year in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup.

This year, NYCFC gets the right to host – but it won’t be at Yankee Stadium.

Though the New York Yankees’ home schedule permits enough time to convert their baseball diamond to a soccer pitch, sources tell EoS that the match will be taking place at another venue – a venue which has already been secured.

The Yankees homestand ends on June 12th. The U.S. Open Cup match is scheduled for the 15th. That leaves three days to lay down and prepare the sod for a possible U.S. Open Cup. The stadium remains unused through the 21st.

Despite the availability, NYCFC will defer to a smaller local stadium to host their USOC opponent. EoS has not confirmed said location at the time of publishing.

Historically, several teams have deferred the usage of their home grounds for U.S. Open Cup encounters. Most of the time, that decision is due to the high monetary strain of opening their facilities for a match which historically does not draw well.

What the reason behind NYCFC’s decision remains unclear. However, the team does serve as a tenant in Yankee Stadium, meaning the availability for usage outside of the MLS schedule remains out of their hands.

NYCFC host the winner of the Cosmos match against either the New York Pancyprians Freedoms or Jersey Express.
Interesting. I wonder if they'll use this opportunity to test out Columbia University's stadium.

We've had reports that NYCFC has considered going in with Columbia on a new stadium on the site at Manhattan's northern tip.

A Cup match would let them test out traffic and public transit patterns.

I haven't been sold on the location - Inwood isn't farther from Midtown than Yankee Stadium, but it only has one subway line. The main advantage of Yankee Stadium lies in the three subway lines which meet at the 161st Street station. The Mets only have one subway line at their park, but it has extra tracks to accommodate additional trains before and after games. I'm not sure that either the 1 line in general or the 215th Street station in particular is capable of handling several thousand additional riders.

Wherever NYCFC ends up playing, it'll be nice to host a Cup match.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

USA Today: Lampard is "The Worst Signing in MLS History"

Not content to let another paper use all the inflammatory headlines, USA Today has this hot take today:

How Frank Lampard became the worst signing in MLS history

By: Nate Scott | May 10, 2016 9:39 am

Frank Lampard is the worst signing in MLS history.

This isn’t even a particularly hot take at this point. It’s not an original thought. This is consensus.

Lampard is a Designated Player for NYCFC and in two seasons with the club, he’s played just ten games. He hasn’t seen a minute of action this season, and it’s not clear if he even has a timetable for his return this year.

How did we get here? How has this been such a catastrophe? Let’s go back to the beginning and follow along the timeline of the worst signing in the league’s history.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

JULY 2014

MLS announces that Frank Lampard has signed a Designated Player contract to join expansion team NYCFC, which is set to begin play in 2015. Lampard was set to join David Villa as the two faces of the franchise as it embarked on its professional journey in New York. There is much rejoicing.


One month after announcing that Lampard had signed with NYCFC, Premier League giants Manchester City announce that Lampard will be joining their team on loan until the start of the MLS preseason.

Manchester City and NYCFC are both owned by City Football Group, so the loan isn’t very surprising to fans. The clubs say that Lampard will return to the MLS club for its inaugural game.


After Lampard starts earning playing time with Manchester City, and manager Manuel Pelligrini expresses interest in keeping him with the Premier League side, City Football Group admits that Lampard never signed a contract with NYCFC, and thus was never actually “loaned” to Manchester City.

The club issues a statement admitting they lied, but call it an error: “The statement on the NYCFC website in July saying Lampard’s two-year contract took effect from Aug 1, 2014 was a mistake. [The] initial statement on City’s website that it was a loan was also an error.”

It turns out that Lampard had only signed a contract with the ownership group, City Football Group, who could decide where and when he played. NYCFC fans are understandably upset.

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

JULY 2015

After the conclusion of the Premier League season and some time off to rest, Lampard officially signs with NYCFC … but comes into the team injured. He sits out a month recovering.


Lampard finally makes his debut performance for NYCFC as a substitute. He goes on to play in 10 matches, scoring 3 goals in a season that saw NYCFC miss the MLS Cup Playoffs.


Lampard has not played a minute in this MLS season, missing 10 consecutive games with what was originally described as a “calf strain.” NYCYFC has three wins so far this season, and currently sit in fourth place in MLS Eastern Conference. With a team already loaded with midfielders, it’s not clear who Lampard would replace in the starting lineup.

The BBC also announced this week that Lampard would provide analysis for the network’s coverage of the Euro 2016 tournament this summer … right in the middle of the ongoing MLS season.

This is a slap in the face to NYCFC fans — Lampard is making around $6 million this year, and he will spend some of his summer as a TV analyst for a European tournament.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

So there you have it: A $6 million Designated Player managed to insult and lie to the team’s fans, miss half a season, underperform, and then launched a TV career while missing ten consecutive games. And that’s how you become the worst signing in MLS history.
I really hope Frank breaks through this season, if only to shove these articles down the naysayers' throats.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Telegraph: "Frank Lampard is the worst signing in MLS history

Our friends across the pond have a hot take on everyone's favorite Designated Player.
Frank Lampard is the worst signing in MLS history - he must call it quits at New York City FC
29 APRIL 2016 • 1:42PM

An all-too familiar sight: Frank Lampard watching New York City from the sidelines

The greatest contribution Frank Lampard can make to New York City FC is to leave.

And leave as soon as possible.

It would be his parting gift - a chance for the MLS side to bring in a Designated Player who could actually make a meaningful difference to the team.

For Lampard has made virtually no difference in his troubled, injury-plagued spell at the club.

And, having not played a single minute this season, with manager Patrick Vieira unsure when he will make his return, the 37-year-old midfielder is highly unlikely to make any real difference this campaign.

New York City simply do not need Lampard. They are overloaded with midfielders in their poorly-constructed squad and require a striker to ease the burden on the ever frustrated David Villa or a top quality centre-half.

Due to MLS regulations, the only way New York City can do this is for Lampard - who earns a princely $6 million a year - to leave, even retire, to free up an international Designated Player slot.

And many New York City fans would be more than happy to see him go.

They have never taken to Lampard ever since he extended his 'loan spell' at parent club Manchester City (in fact he was never on loan) instead of moving to the Big Apple, as expected, on Jan 1, 2015.

As NYCFC struggled at the beginning of their debut campaign, Lampard sat on the Man City bench week-in, week-out. It made for uncomfortable viewing and increased frustration in New York.

"We're the same family. I was asked from the top to stay on in Manchester. … I'm not trying to wipe my hands of it because I'm a man, I make my decisions. But it kind of felt right at the time to carry on playing," Lampard said by way of explanation to reporters after he finally arrived, following a holiday with his then fiancee in Dubai.

"I did get frustrated in January, February, March, because a footballer wants to play games; I'm not going to lie. … It wasn’t easy because things were being said like I tried to pull the wool over peoples' eyes. It certainly wasn’t that from my point of view: I was just trying to play good football."

Lampard's much-heralded arrival in New York only raised tensions further after he injured a calf in practice while trying to get back up to speed, further delaying his debut.

In the end, Lampard played just 10 games last season, scoring three goals, as New York City failed to make the play-offs, leading to the sacking of head coach Jason Kreis.

No one was more frustrated than Lampard himself over his inability to make a telling contribution last season.

"[It's been] very frustrating," he told ESPN FC. "I'm a terrible injured person anyway. I've always found it difficult to be away from the team. You don't feel like you're part of it. You train separately, you have treatments on your own, and more than anything you want to take part in match day, which you have to sit out. That's been hard.

"I've certainly enjoyed outside of the pitch. Moving over here, the city has been great to me. The only thing that's been missing is being able to play and hopefully help us win games."

Lampard is not helping, though, which is why he should go - for the good of the cause.

Of course, this is not the way Lampard would want to end his career and New York City will give him every chance to get back to fitness and play for the team.

This does not help NYCFC's chances of reaching the play-offs, however - a seeming prerequisite for Vieira.

Lampard is one of the 10 greatest players in Premier League history. He is also the worst signing in Major League Soccer history.

MLS aficionados may argue that the likes Lothar Matthäus or Rafael Márquez were worse, but for all the grief his transfer caused and his complete lack of impact on it, Lampard has to go down as the biggest bust of them all.

It's time for New York City to put him out of his misery.
Can't deny that the Manchester City deal was infuriating, we've talked about that enough. But I think reporters continue to mis-read the fanbase. Yes, Lampard has struggled with supporters. But the vast majority of the fans appear to stand behind him. We should be careful not to let the few very vocal fans speak for most.

If Lampard can stay healthy, I think he's shown he has much to contribute. Here's to hoping that he gets the chance.