Although the New York Yankees are just getting started today, their home base has been in business for the past month.
With New York City Football Club kicking off season No. 3, Yankee Stadium’s other team geared to take the next step in Major League Soccer.
With a 2-1-1 record after downing the San Jose Earthquakes, 2-1, NYCFC is making strides for another playoff run like last year.
However, the biggest difference is at the top, where Maxi Moralez replaces the retired Frank Lampard in the lineup to go along with David Villa and Andrea Pirlo.
So far so good.
“It has been really positive so far,” Moralez said. “I think we have been adjusting to the change well. The team has been great and I am very happy to be here. The language has been the biggest challenge but football is football and it is still eleven on eleven.”
On the field, sure. NYCFC looks for another dominate season, but more importantly the team is still drawing in a facility not built for soccer. The pitch is jerry-rigged across the outfield and rightside of the infield and the best seats for a Yankee game tend to be the worst for NYCFC.
Although the club wants its own soccer-only stadium, it’s still in the concept stage and most likely won’t be ready for the rest of the decade.
But no matter as the team draws despite the flaws of playing soccer in a ballpark. Yesterday, with temperatures in the high 40s, over 20,000 came out to see NYC take the pitch.
And that’s why all of this works. Starting today, baseball takes the full consciousness of the city and will continue to do so through October. Even though football will have their camps and the Rangers will be in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Yankees and Mets will get the headlines.
NYCFC understands this and is just looking for a piece of the pie, an alternative in this baseball obsessed town. Understand, even though the Red Bulls are in the market, their location in Harrison, NJ targets them for the Northern New Jersey market rather than the five boroughs.
And NYC’s success keeps soccer in the consciousness of the city. Make no mistake, their great season last year, helped the New York Cosmos make the move to Brooklyn from Long Island, as a minor-league compliment to NYC, whereas the success of the Red Bulls is more of a blip on the radar, much like the New Jersey Devils winning the Stanley Cup. They have been around for 20 years, but soccer was never more of a niche sport.
In other markets, the MLS has taken off. In Boston, Washington DC, and Los Angeles, soccer is as big as the other sports and draw tremendously in those cities. There is no reason why it can’t be as big in New York.
Which is important for NYCFC to succeed on and off the pitch. Right now, they get secondary coverage from bigger outlets like this one, while small websites trying to break into the market give the club bigger coverage, since they cannot get credentials from anyone else. And of course, the soccer-only outlet will teat NYC, the way the newspapers cover the Yankees, but that goes without saying.
Right now, NYCFC is still in its infancy and as the club becomes bigger and more outlets pick up coverage, the sport will become more and more mainstream in the city.
Which is why this is such an important year for NYCFC. If they can win the MLS Cup, it will help secure a standing for the sport. Even though they draw very well, Yankee Stadium can fit 50,000 people and frankly if the demand is there, those seats will open for the supporters.
And so far, well so good. Now it’s time for NYCFC to take the sport to the next level in New York.