We’re counting down the days until the Major League Soccer opener — Chicago at Los Angeles on March 6 — by marching backward through Matt Pentz’s projected league standings for upcoming season.
Today, we look at expansion club New York City FC and its big dreams for the Big Apple.
A refresher: Obviously, New York City FC didn’t have anything going on on the field in 2014. But it has been a busy year in the metropolis, regardless.
The club unveiled Spanish striker David Villa as its first-ever signing on July 2 of last year, validating — at least temporarily — the combined financial might of co-owners Manchester City and the New York Yankees. Frank Lampard joined from Chelsea a month-and-a-half later, furthering the new club’s legitimacy.
And that’s where the trouble started.
The pessimists’ take: The ensuring Lampard debacle instead validated the most cynical conspiracy theories floating around the club: That NYCFC was nothing more than a Manchester City spin-off or a feeder club toward the big leagues, that Man City would treat MLS’ newest franchise much like Chivas Guadalajara treated the team passing it on the way out the door.
Lampard, to provide some background, went on “loan” to the EPL club this past fall and winter, nominally to stay fit in the months before NYCFC went live. But having greatly outperformed expectations while in Manchester, City instead decided it wanted his services until the end of the Premier League season in May — new club launch be damned.
Combine that with these jerseys and the fact that NYCFC looks no closer to its own stadium than when it was announced as an expansion club in 2010, and, let’s just say its been an inauspicious start.
The optimists’ take: In bringing in coach Jason Kreis and sporting director Claudio Reina into the fold, NYCFC already has one of the top front offices in the league. It had a strong expansion draft, picking up midfield anchor Ned Grabavoy and forward prospect Patrick Mullins.
The club has since added Mix Diskerud into the midfield and has a strong core to build around — Lampard or no Lampard.
This league could use a good villain, and with all the off-field missteps, big-money backing and New York City sense of airs, NYCFC is well on its way.
All that’s left is winning in spite of — or even more madding, because of — all the drama.
Check back tomorrow, as the countdown continues with the No. 14 Houston Dynamo …