Mancuso: Buzz At Yankee Stadium For NYC FC Home Opener

(NYC FC and Toronto FC lined up before the game on Sunday – Mike Lawrence / Sportsday Wire)
There was this buzz outside Yankee Stadium Sunday afternoon and it is expected with Opening Day at the ballpark. But this was not a baseball opener in the Bronx for the Yankees who get their opportunity to inaugurate the 2016 baseball season in New York three weeks from Monday.

Instead, it was a buzz for New York City FC, a soccer team that the Yankees have a small financial investment with and a team that shares the ballpark in the Bronx 16 times during the baseball season with the Bronx Bombers.  Soccer may not have that popularity, or create that talk with fans in this town, a contrast to a baseball Opening Day, or any of the other mainstream sports.

But don’t tell that to the sold out crowd of 30,315 that came to support their NYC FC team on a late Sunday afternoon. That enthusiasm was heard from the first kick to the last as NYC FC, in the second game of the season, and Toronto FC played to a 2-2 tie

And yes, it was the 12th man in that crowd that the players say helped them get the tie, and in a sport like soccer is as good as a win.

“Team will get better and better and will against Orlando Friday,” said NYC coach Patrick Vieira. This is also his first year on the sidelines after a coaching change. The fans responded and the coach noticed the enthusiasm. So, yes, with the Red Bulls across the river in New Jersey, this relatively new team in town has a chance to create a buzz.

And according to New York City FC officials, advance sales are showing there is enthusiasm. There have been some roster changes after a losing and first season in the Bronx last season. There could be another 30,000 or more at Yankee Stadium Friday night for the second game of the home schedule.

David Villa, a premiere player in the MLS league said the fans this opening day responded when he scored his goal at the 27:36 mark.

“Very superior to the noise,” he said about his teammates responding. Before a throng of opening day media in the visitor’s baseball locker room at Yankee Stadium, Villa said he was happy for the fans and will give them a victory Friday,

Comments heard from Villa will only carry over to Friday, and that also contributes to the buzz about how New York City FC is committed to winning in a ballpark that has been a home to more than one championship on the baseball diamond.

“It was unreal, just the fans and whole atmosphere created,” Miley Lopez said. He is one of the new players on the roster and has no issue playing before bigger crowds, much different for a 23-year kid from Mission Texas.

He added, “Love the fact they were out and so loud all day. Really appreciate it. It’s so much bigger and so magnified. Everyone is into it and really loyal and they (fans) are a part of us  and they are all together with us. It’s amazing. The ultimate 12th man.”

And here is where the enthusiasm gets more interesting. Lopez is that new player and the first game in the Bronx certainly showed there is a buzz for this team. “We are a small representation of New York, I think this year we will do really well.  They (fans) will be really happy that we represent them.”

The Empire State Building in Manhattan was decorated in New York City FC blue Sunday night as fans and the team departed after the home opener. Lopez said, he wants to take in more of the big city and get a taste of the Mexican cuisine that is easy to get in this part of town.

And you get the feeling every fan of this team will soon get a good portion of New York City FC cuisine after that buzz of a soccer opening day in the Bronx.

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