The New York City Football Club won their opening game at Yankee Stadium on Sunday afternoon, 2-0 over the New England Revolution.
The game was very exciting right from the start, as NYC FC got an early goal from their star import from Spain, forward David Villa, in the 19th minute. The goal came on a play in which Villa came down the center, passed to his right to Ned Grabavoy, who then got it back to Villa, who blasted it into the back of the net.
NYC FC kept the heat on, and New England goalie Bobby Shuttleworth was up to the challenge, making 7 saves on point-blank chances. New England had their chances too, with a bunch of shots trickling past the goalpost on the right side. NYC FC goalie Josh Saunders made just one save in the game, even though New England was credited with 11 shots. Unlike hockey, shots do not have to be on net; for example, the shots that trickled right of the net would not have been considered shots in hockey.
The game stayed 1-0 until the 84th minute, when David Villa set up Patrick Mullins, who had just entered the game, for NYC FC’s second goal of the game on a strike from the top of the crease to make it 2-0 NYC.
The attendance at Yankee Stadium was a robust 43,507. The crowd was energetic from the start, including a section of New England fans in the second deck opposite midfield. This was a great first impression NYC FC made, as the game was entertaining and fast-paced, with plenty of shots.
Claudio Reyna, NYC FC Sporting Director, said of the importance of his club making a first impression, “I feel much better now than I did two or three hours ago, that’s for sure. It was important, you know, I have to say, I was nervous that, obviously, if we didn’t get the result, what message that sends out. But, I think, we got the result, but also I think the fans come away encouraged with the team, the performance, the pride they showed in representing the city. These guys are so pumped up to play in New York City and to defend Yankee Stadium as their home. You could see it before the game, you could see it all week, you know, they’re really, really excited about being part of this project too, all of us. We’re all new, we’re building this club, the players, all the staff working behind the scenes, so again, great day. I think the fans leaving The Stadium will only have positive experiences, positive memories, hopefully they communicate that to all their friends who couldn’t make it and we just continue to get a good atmosphere and make Yankee Stadium our fortress.”
NYC FC Head Coach Jason Kries said of the opening game, “I couldn’t be more pleased with the atmosphere the fans brought today. For me, it was fantastic, the fans were great. It was a nervous moment I think for me to not know what the fans would be like here. To meet them for the very first time, I couldn’t be more happy with the support that we had and the atmosphere in the stadium, and the job that the Yankees did to welcome us in for what I think was a good show.”
David Villa said through a translator, “I’m very pleased with the performance today. Obviously, we are still growing as a new team, but we are delighted we scored two goals. We could have scored some more goals in the second half. We have to thank the fans, and I would like to take the opportunity to thank the fans on a cold day like this to give us the support that they gave us, so very, very pleased about the performance.”
Kreis said on if he had any thoughts about what this day would be like going into it, “Of course, I think everybody thinks and dreams about what this type of opportunity could look like and what this match could look like and I would say that it fulfilled my dreams. I couldn’t ask for a better result against a very good team, I shouldn’t ask for a better support from our crowd, and also to the Revolution crowd. I thought it was quite outstanding that they had a large section that was very vocal, so, again, so many positive signs about the way, the direction our league is heading in, it was fantastic.”
Kreis said of their offensive attack, “I’ve been preaching, maybe to deaf ears, but this will not be a finished product in Week One and I knew that coming in, and I know, listen, it’s probably harder for me than anybody else because I’m not a patient person and I also have a vision of what this group could look like because I think we have some very, very talented players. It’s just going to take time. It’s going to take minutes together on the training field, it’s going to take minutes in the matches, it’s going to take these players being in all kinds of different tactical situations in matches, and hoping that we’re going to improve week over week. I would say that this week was better than last week, and I’ll be hoping that next week will be better than this week.
Kries said of Villa, “David’s performance, again, also, was much improved. Last week was very difficult, as I knew it would be. This is an extremely physical league in which the defenders don’t give you any time or space on the ball, and there’s a lot of physical confrontations because of that. I know that he’s an incredibly talented player, he’s an incredibly smart player, and he’s not shy of working hard. For me, he’s the exact type of player that will be incredibly successful in this league. It will take some time.”
One of NYC FC’s biggest acquisitions was midfielder Mix Diskerud, and he had two shots in the game. Afterwards, he talked about the importance of winning the home opener to building the fan base, “I think it’s extremely important that we play like we did today and we came out with a win. I’m very sure now that people want to be a part of this and the people who were here they’re going to come for the next game and people who watched on TV, they’re going to come as well.”
Dskerud said of the game and Villa getting the first goal, “It was how it was supposed to be, he’s one of the best players we have, and I think it’s fun for the whole team that he gets the goal and he gets started, that’s important for us. It was incredible, it was a whole team effort today, everybody played solid. For me, it was two completely different halves. The first half was the New England half, they pressured us, they had a lot of chances, and the second half, it was vice versa, the win I think had a lot to say, but it felt like we could’ve scored a lot more goals in the second half.”
On if he ever played in a baseball stadium before, Diskerud said, “No, never, so this was the first time, and what a first time, huh? Khiry (Shelton, NYC FC forward) and I were talking about what celebration we would have if one of us scored here, so I’m not going to reveal it now, we’ll save it to the next game.”
Diskerud said of the quality of the field, “You can walk out there yourself and you’ll be satisfied with it. It’s the winter right now, so it’s just going to get better and better and if we keep on winning on it, I’m not going to have any problem.”