NOT CITY SLICKERs
DANNY RUST reports on a fledgling club struggling to meet expectations despite their star names...
New York City’s stumbles
City until the end of the Premier League campaign, and only join up with NYC FC in July – four months into the MLS season. To make matters worse, Lampard sustained an injury only a matter of days after joining up with his new team-mates. The former Chelsea midfielder is also struggling to get to grips with the MLS, having made three appearances by the start of September and failing to score or create a goal – two traits that made Lampard impress at West Ham United, Chelsea and Manchester City. Pirlo has failed to show his worth so far, too. Having made his debut in a 5-3 win against Orlando City, he has shown glimpses of what he can do. His passing has been fantastic at times, but at other stages he has been too slow on the ball. There have been a number of suggestions as to why NYC FC have not taken the MLS by storm. New York City FC coach Jason Kreis has not been afraid to call the commitment of his players into question. After a home defeat to Columbus Crew in August,
Kreis said: “I know the coaching staff cares an awful lot about this club and the job we’re attempting to do. I’m not so sure all the players do.”
Lampard, however, disagrees with his coach, as he claimed: “We’re not getting the results and the consistency, but, for me, it’s not for the want of trying.”
One thing that is for sure is that NYC FC desperately need to build their own stadium, rather than continue to use Yankee Stadium – the home of the world famous New York Yankees baseball side. The club is yet to find a site to build their own stadium, although it will not be an easy task after pledging to build the stadium in the city of New York. This means that the club is likely to remain at Yankee Stadium for many years to come. For obvious reasons,Yankee Stadium was built for baseball, not soccer. As a result, fitting a soccer pitch into the baseball stadium shape was extremely difficult. In fact, the soccer pitch at Yankee Stadium is only 68 yards wide, meaning there is a lack of width whenever NYC FC play at home.
With the majority of the play-off berths in the Eastern Conference all but sealed, it looks highly unlikely that NYC FC will make it into the post-season stages. But support has not faltered, with a sell-out crowd of 30,000 being in attendance for their fixture with Columbus Crew at the end of August. Manchester City’s billionaire owners may be heavily involved in the workings of NYC FC but the MLS is one place where money isn’t everything. MLS guidelines mean that salary caps exist and each franchise are only allowed three designated players.
The newly-formed franchise may have had a less than convincing first season, but the future still looks bright. Moving into a new stadium is the next big step for NYC FC, but until that happens there will be a lingering uncertainty hanging over the New Yorkers.