There were high hopes for NYCFC in their inaugural season, and they definitely had the fan support. But the performances on the field were less than desirable. Now that they’ve had a taste of the league, the next milestone is consistency. More cohesion with star players and a new manager may just be the ticket. Here are three things to consider for NYCFC’s sophomore season:
Finally, the big three Designated Players have had a full preseason training together. This can only mean good things for NYCFC. Lampard had that weird miscommunication about where and when he was supposed to play at the start of last season, and didn’t wind up suiting up in the States until summer and Pirlo jumped across the pond in July. If all three are working in sync, it should make for some pretty football. But all three are in their mid-thirties, so even a full preseason may not be enough to keep them all on the pitch at the same time through playoffs.
It’s a new year and a new manager. Patrick Vieira has been welcomed in to MLS with great fanfare. Vieira’s history in the Premier League deepens NYCFC’s ties to Manchester City but that may prove useful or just add extra pressure. He seems to be handling that perception well so far, saying: "All I have to do is win." If only it were that easy! New York fans are notoriously demanding and Vieira will have to work hard to prove he has what it takes.
Playing soccer in a baseball stadium has its charms (ask D.C. United), but those can wear thin (ask D.C. United fans). NYCFC’s playing field at Yankee Stadium is mediocre at best and is by far the smallest field in MLS. Watching NYCFC games on TV makes you want to adjust the picture ratio because the proportions seem off. The team built up a pretty solid fan base for their opening season averaging 29,000 fans at home and 25,000 away from home. But with the plans for a soccer-specific stadium still just a pipe-dream, how long will supporters stick around in less than ideal conditions if the team doesn’t turn things around on the pitch?