What a difference a day makes is the song and for New York City FC and their fans the song should be what a difference two weeks makes. Their first MLS postseason game at home quickly came to end Sunday evening in the Bronx as Toronto FC advanced to the Eastern Conference finals.
And with a aggregate scoring system used in the playoffs, something a soccer novice can’t comprehend, the final score read 0-7 for NYCFC in two legs of the Eastern Conference semifinals of combined 2-0 and 5-0 shutouts.
So where does NYCFC go from here? They go home and review a season that was successful because in their second year as a franchise they played in their initial postseason series and a chance for the MLS Cup.
But this was not the same team that promised fans the job was not finished when they concluded their season finale in the Bronx two weeks ago. Anticipation and optimism quickly ended for the professional team that shares a stadium that has not seen a championship flag since the Yankees won in all in 2009.
“I’m actually really proud of the players because I strongly believe all this season they’ve been working really hard,” said head coach Patrick Vieira. His players may have played hard all season but that growing fan base went home disappointed.
Soccer fans in New York City are as starved for a championship as the other major sports teams in town. So, yes this was a disappintment and there will be that commitment to make it more interestng next year.
No matter what Vieira accomplished, numerous lineup changes and putting the right nucleus on the field, it was obvious that NYCFC has more to do in order to compete with Toronto and the other big boys who now advance in their quest for a championship.
If it means getting another superstar or two there is that commitment to do so. They play in a major market and at times this season took some of the headlines away from the perennial favorite Red Bulls, who play across the Hudson River and were also eliminated in their semifinal leg on the same day.
“The game tonight doesn’t really reflect the way the players conduct themselves all season,” Viera said. “But on the other side, as a football club, we want to improve. We want to be better and will be important for us to make some strong decisions because we want to be better and it will be important for us to make some some strong decisions because we want to challenge teams like Toronto next season.”
The MLS aggregate goal system used in the postseason meant it was all over for NYCFC in the first minutes of play when Sebastian Giovinco scored two quick goals that took away energy from the 28,355 fans that one again made noise.
The fans came prepared and did their job, but that eight-match home winning streak in the Bronx was not evident on the field.
When NYCFC concluded play with a win over Columbus two weeks ago, they knew the mission was not complete. They addressed their loyal fan base and it was a significant step forward when considering the adversity of having that right chemistry on the field that was often the match plan for Vieira.
Next year he said, “It’s how we can be a little more consistent in our performance and improve some aspects of the game, but I think we’re in the right way.”
And in their final meeting with the media, there were no excuses. The players were disappointed more because they know they built a base of fans.
“It’s something that we’ll take into the offseason.” said defenseman RJ Allen. “But looking back on the season, we learned a lot and about our group. From year one to year two, we definitely improved but at the end of the day we didn’t win the silverware and at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about.”
And in New York City the championship is what it is all about. So they go back to the drawing board and try to keep that core group together with a few more additions. That sounds familiar for any team in sports after getting eliminated in a playoff run.
But for this New York City Football Club, it was brief and they wanted more even if this was considered a successful season.