It’s been an emotional off-season for NYCFC as the club and the fan base said farewell to its greatest player, ambassador and face of the franchise, David Villa, while also parting ways with fan favorite, Tommy McNamara aka Uncle Tommy.
There is arguably no player in MLS history that has meant more to his team’s foundation the way David Villa meant to NYCFC and soccer culture in New York City. His retirement video left many fans so emotionally shook that it will take more than an off-season to fill the void. His emotional connection and importance to the club and the fan base is indescribable and replacing him will be nearly impossible.
After four season of moderate regular season success and nothing to show for it in the postseason, NYCFC is left with a project going into its fifth season as they try to rebuild and redefine the club’s direction post Villa. Meanwhile, City’s archrival, the New York Red Bulls, have enjoyed a ton of success, recently at the expense of NYCFC with multiple embarrassing losses. Oh… the Red Bulls also play in a beautiful soccer stadium with an incredible fan experience and home field advantage, while NYCFC continues to play in a baseball stadium with no clear plan in sight of when they’ll get their own place to call home. Yankee Stadium is legendary and great for baseball, but it’s no soccer stadium.
NYCFC’s other archrival down south, twice as young, are redefining the limitations of a new sports franchise in astonishing fashion. Atlanta United is rewriting the rules of building a sports culture and winning. Who needs four or five seasons to win the league cup when you can do it in two? The acquisition on loan of Keaton Parks from Portuguese giants, Benfica, plus several off season signings, is an infusion of much needed fresh young blood into the club.
However, we are not in Atlanta, this is New York City and we’re ready to win. This club needs to make a huge splash by signing a major superstar. The fan base is lukewarm at best and interest seems to be on the decline over the past two years. A signature signing is badly needed to inject enthusiasm back into the veins of New York soccer fans.
This is the most pivotal off-season in the club’s young history. Unlike many other cities, star power matters here. Without it, NYCFC is just the soccer version of the Knicks and we see how well that’s going.