RBNY Optimist: Welcome, New York City ST (soccer team)!

Staff Writer

rbnyoptimistLet me start out with this. I was against “NY2.” I thought it was a bad idea all around. Why not put your efforts behind expanding into under-served markets like the Southeast, or throw your considerable weight behind existing, core franchises that are struggling with sub-par home stadiums to help them find a better solution (DC? New England?), or how about just not treating the New York Red Bulls like a cousin who you don’t like very much but tolerate at the Thanksgiving table because it’s easier than getting into a fight at holiday time?

But, with yesterday’s announcement of the formation and addition to MLS of New York City FC, a joint venture between Manchester City of the EPL and the New York Yankees of the MLB, all of the argument above — all of it — becomes moot.

They’re Here, With an Emir, and They’re Proud.

Immediately following the announcement ,the RBNY fan base reacted online — as is our wont — with a combination of panic, resignation, anger, and above all, angst and fatalism.

Well, as usual, I’m here to help you out, fellow fans. Let’s try not to get ahead of ourselves here and assume that the world is coming to an end. Let’s take a longer view and add some perspective to the proceedings. After all, NYCFC will not play their first game until 2015. That’s a long time to keep up the level of anxiety some have been able to reach in less than 24 hours. Let’s take a deep breath and consider a few items, shall we?

It’ll be two and half seasons until we see a member of NYCFC step onto the field (although I’m sure they will call it a “pitch”). They have no logo, no uniforms, no front office, no coach and no roster. There’s a long, long way to go before we see what their approach will be. I recommend you go with the flow here. There’s going to be attention for this new club and it’s going to come in waves. If they know what they are doing, they will time their announcements (like today’s intro of Claudio Reyna as Director of Football) to keep attention on themselves, parceling out little bits at a time.

The good news is that today is probably the peak of the mainstream media attention they will get until they find a stadium location or step on the field (whichever comes first). Did they get a multiple page story in the New York Times sports section today? Yes, but read it closely and you’ll see it’s 80% about the stadium controversy in Queens. That’s still the focus of the story for the mainstream media because, soccer and MLS? Well, it’s not all that important to them, as we know.

The surprise part of yesterday’s announcement was the involvement of the Yankees in all of this. Smart move by Man City? Yes, especially in terms of knowing the local market and having the right political connections.

I’m fascinated by this partnership and it sounds really smart in the abstract, but it’s just a little bit…goofy. Let’s take an organization that knows nothing about MLS and the US soccer environment and pair them up with…a baseball team? You can already see the signs of tone deafness in the branding: New York City FC? I know they play in NY, so what’s the team’s NAME? You know, like every other American sports franchise. Is it the New York New York City FC? Maybe New York City FC of Queens?

And the “FC” … well, c’mon. As many on the Internet pointed out yesterday, can we call it Soccer anymore?

Although I call it tone deafness, it’s clearly premeditated. That’s because they are positioning themselves as the hot new thing. The Yankee-fied team for Eurosnobs, hipsters and front-runners. Hop on the bandwagon now! Look and and listen to the comments from Man City fans and you’ll hear how this EPL team will inject a “breath of fresh air” into MLS.

This is going to be the team for people that hate MLS.

I have news for them. We have plenty of fresh air, thank you very much. And, by the way, I didn’t hear anything about them being exempt from the salary cap, or how they are going to be playing opponents that are not already in the league. So, we welcome you to OUR world.

Even with all the above coursing through my big, round soccer ball head all day yesterday, the line of thought that tweaked me most (and if you’ve been following along with my posts here it won’t be very surprising) was the one that went as follows: RBNY are doomed. We are going to be the “little brother.” We are now destined to be the “New Jersey Devils” of the NY soccer market.

My question back to those with that viewpoint is, “Why?” We were here FIRST. We are an original MLS franchise (yes, we are, regardless of what your fancy track jacket says). THEY are the newcomers, they are the ones that have to establish their MLS bonafides.

People, we are not the Devils in this equation, we are the Rangers! We are here now, and have been for 17 years. Let’s act like it!

So, should we be worried about NYCST ™? My answer is certainly not now. And probably not later. After all the hoopla dies down; after the NY Times goes back to covering BOTH teams by publishing AP News Briefs; after they find some sliver of land that’s so underpopulated and undesired that they can get a stadium agreement (Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island, anyone??), New York City FC will still be an expansion team with owners that have no MLS experience, in the most crowded and competitive sports and entertainment market in the world.

We look forward to facing and beating your collection of Man City reserves and EPL retirees wearing powder blue and pinstripes.

Bring it on.