Published on June 22nd, 2015 | by Ian Cheeseman1
My visit to New York City FC! | Ian Cheeseman
“It’s certainly a different experience, watching New York City FC than watching the Manchester Blues”
I’ve just got back from a family holiday to New York, a City that’s full of energy and new experiences at every turn. I knew a little of what to expect, I’ve been there before, but it never fails to take your breath away.
Naturally, as a City fan, top of my list of “must do” things for this visit was a New York City game at Yankee Stadium. There are some MCFC fans who don’t buy into the “City Group” concept, and there are those like me who’ve followed the NYCFC story from concept to delivery with great interest and a fair amount of passion.
It’s a new club, who wear sky blue and are called City, and that all helps. On the occasion I saw them (mid June 2015) they included MCFC defender Shay Facey in their team, and of course former MCFC player and New Jersey man Claudio Reyna was highly influential in getting NYCFC this far.
I’d been to watch New York Mets play baseball the night before my visit to Yankee Stadium, and I’d loved the experience. It’s a game that lasts just over three hours and a sport that has up to sixteen natural breaks (during the nine innings each team plays) which means lots of opportunities to get food, have a wander or other things you might need to do!
It’s played at a pace that that suits the U.S. sporting attention span, you can chat while watching, look up when convenient, a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and I have to say I love it, though I admit to some Brits it’s seen as rounders with over arm “bowling”, so it won’t be to everyone’s taste.
The following night I was at Yankee Stadium, converted into a “soccer” stadium with the pitch not ideally placed for close up viewing of the game, due to the protection of the batting diamond and pitching mound used in Baseball.
Many years ago, on my first visit to New York, I saw New York Cosmos, with a team that included Dennis Tueart and Franz Beckenbauer play in front of 60,000 at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. The vast majority of the crowd that day seemed to be from South America or Mexico. They were football fans and I enjoyed the experience. A few years later I saw Los Angeles Aztecs play in front of 3,500 at the cavernous Coliseum, in front of an almost 100% Hispanic crown.
It seemed that our football in the USA wasn’t working.
The MLS of 2015, complete with the new NYCFC franchise, attracts a good cross section of New York’s population, a youngish crowd, who by my observation, have largely been brought on European football via their TV. There was the noisy supporters section, positioned behind one goal, who gave the stadium atmosphere and close to my seat was a small group from Montreal Impact who never stopped singing. Everywhere else the crowd felt like a mixture of occasional soccer fans, first timers, visitors to the City, and the curious.
To be fair it’s a new club, and New York’s other MLS team (the Red Bulls) play in New Jersey, but just like the NYCFC team (at this stage in it’s development) the crowd felt a little disjointed and shapeless.
There are big screens at the Etihad of course, and at other Premier League grounds, but nothing as imposing as the one at Yankee Stadium, and there were times that the real time pictures of the action on their huge screen on the halfway line, offered a distracting clearer picture of the game than looking directly at the pitch, which might have appealed to those brought up on TV football, but not me. Big screens for replays of goals, HT & FT highlights and pre-match entertainment etc are fine but I’m not a fan of in-game live pictures on that scale.
The game itself saw NYCFC claim a record win, so far in it’s history, of 3-1. It was a deserved victory, but if pushed I’d have to say the quality of football was comparable to the top end of League One in the UK, a long way short of the Premier League, though I have seen better on TV when watching a few of the NYCFC games here.
I remain excited by the NYCFC “project” and will continue to watch the UK televised games when I can and I’d urge all MCFC fans to go and sample a NYCFC game if they get a chance to visit the Big Apple. Personally I love the City Group idea, though of course my heart will always be with MCFC!
Up the Blues!