Wassink: NYC FC – MLS’ own ‘plastic franchise’


Zac is a freelancer who has been covering sports since 2006 and (the) MLS since 2010. His support of the New York Red Bulls played no factor in the creation of this piece. He also supports Tottenham Hotspur, Perth Glory, Juventus, the “Mark Fishkin for MLS Commissioner” movement, and New Jersey bagels. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those held by anybody associated with the EoS website.


Guest Columnist

COMMENTARY: A badge unveiling. That’s what makes for front page Major League Soccer news these days.

While I only recently became an official member of the Pro Football Writers of America, I have been on the NFL media list since 2008/09 (I couldn’t remember which year it was nor did I care enough to go back to see). NFL press blasts occur when the league is happy to announce that 30 million viewers tuned in to watch a Sunday Night Football broadcast, or when the league releases monthly Health and Safety Updates.

For MLS, a team that won’t play meaningful football at any point during the calendar year picking one of two badge designs is a significant moment, one worthy of a media event.

It’s not difficult to understand why MLS fans who visit the league’s official website or who follow Twitter accounts belonging to American soccer journalists cannot escape New York City Football Club. NYCFC are the darling franchise of league commissioner Don Garber, a pet project born from the demands of silent supporters who have apparently wanted a team of their own for years despite never doing anything of merit in order to get one.

Turn the clock back to 2007, and then imagine a world where the MLS headquarters were in Philadelphia and not New York City. The Sons of Ben would have held “Occupy MLS” protests in the lobby of the league offices until their demands were met. They would have made national headlines.

No such events, staged or otherwise, occurred in Manhattan. The “MLS to Queens” movement which was supposed to bring a franchise to that borough quietly died a death before NYCFC were officially announced. Even now, with the cornerstones of the club in place, NYCFC cannot get a mere mention from anybody outside of:

  • Credentialed MLS writers who have obligations to cover Mr. Garber’s new toy.
  • Kids, wannabe soccer journos who don’t get paid for their blogs/articles and who also get press passes to NYCFC events because MLS hands those things out like they are candy (seriously, the league has even offered them to me.).
  • A handful of people genuinely interested in the team.

Those in the front offices of MLS and NYCFC have insisted that the team formerly referred to as NY2 will make history. You have to give everybody involved credit, because that objective is already being met and then some. The preferential treatment afforded to and the blind eyes turned toward Manchester City and their bid for a MLS franchise have been unlike anything I’ve witnessed as long as I have actively been covering the league.

A bid for a MLS team that included no landing spot for a stadium and one that had close to zero noticeable public backing was accepted. The current mayor of New York could not possibly care less about NYCFC getting a shiny new venue to call home. Oh yeah; there are also those pesky human rights issues that conveniently get swept under the rug.

It’s amazing what we humans tell ourselves to justify morally questionable behavior. We are here in the United States, and thus we can’t do anything about what occurs in far off lands such as the United Arab Emirates or Abu Dhabi. Make no mistake about it, everybody who reads this:

Every piece of NYCFC merch you buy represents you financially supporting a “’black hole for basic human rights.‘”

But that badge looks pretty sweet, right?

“Would you take a job with NYCFC if one was offered to you?” That was the question asked to me by a friend who works in MLS HQ last year a few days after the club was officially introduced. “I honestly can’t say,” I explained. Working for a top-flight football organization, let alone doing so on US soil, would be an incredible opportunity. It would also, were NYCFC to be involved, include having to ignore what I know about those providing a bulk of the funds for the existence of the club.

At least I would be willing to own up to what I was avoiding to address, something far too many of you refuse to do.

Most hilarious of all is that, since there were no fans clamoring for this specific team, there remain no real NYCFC “fans.” Anybody claiming to be one is, rather, a mark, the type of WWE viewer who takes to message boards to rant about how Triple H is actually going to screw Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania, somebody who says he likes Arsenal but cannot be bothered to venture 30-45 minutes from his home to watch THIERRY HENRY play live and in-person, a self-conscious MLS defender who will accept anything suggested by the league as gospel; the type of fake supporter quietly mocked by diehards who frequent pubs such as The Football Factory at Legends.

Portland. Vancouver. Montreal. Orlando. Perhaps Pittsburgh down the road. MLS teams in those regions were/will be organic creations. In NYCFC, MLS has its first plastic club and the league’s first true plastic fans.


  • Dave from Dix Hills

    I think Zac put all my thoughts into words in an actual readable way. Wow.


    We support NYCFC.

    RBNY is a bunch of nerds whining about tifo and parking lot tailgating. If you want to be cool like us, join up with NYCFC.

    • Captain Plastic

      No registered trademark symbol? Impostor!

  • I am not sure de Blasio is against the stadium as much as he is against the public subsidies Bloomberg was willing to hand out like candy.

    New York City is a finicky place. It can choose to ignore you at will (as most are with Red Bull) and with NYCFC, I think most people are taking a build it to believe in it approach especially when it comes to soccer.

  • So it is to be assumed that the only time MLS, a fledgling professional sports league in an insanely competitive American sports landscape that’s tasked with making money, growing its audience, luring bigger talents, etc., should launch a new club is when there are fan uprisings from supporter groups demanding expansion in their town? Organic grassroots-supported clubs only, and “true” long-suffering, truly established MLS diehard fans will accept no substitutes? Hilarious! Also interesting that the first graf of this lays out supposed journalistic bonafides, yet there seems to simultaneously be no basic understanding of how a) marketing and PR and b) sports business work, based on the rest of this piece. Though the author deserves congrats on his hard-earned honor as this week’s captain of the Boo Hoo New York 2 Crew.

    • Captain Plastic

      Boo Hoo New York 2 Crew!!!!! LOL

  • Daniel

    “His support of the New York Red Bulls played no factor in the creation of this piece.”

    Haha what is credible journalism

  • Anthony Buckley

    I bet Zac sings the full 90.

  • JP

    Well that’s one way to tell someone F*#$ Y*#

  • This is the most accurate piece yet on NYCFC ! Enough Said > well done Zac !

  • Applause. Why is no one in soccer journalism asking MLS the tough questions? We have to come to this awesome, but ultimately low readership site to see some truth.

    Why is MLS doing business with a man described by Human Rights Watch as someone who uses his sports teams to launder his image as a human rights abuser?

    Since the Queens stadium was rejected in part because Sheik Mansour is the Deputy Prime Minister of a nation that has laws punishing homosexuality with castration, why do you think politicians will be more sympathetic now?

    Why have you changed the rules requiring a SSS for a franchise just to accommodate a person like this?

    Have you actually received the $100 million franchise fee?

  • Vinjay

    “His support of the New York Red Bulls played no factor in the creation of this piece.”

    Course not.

    Surprised you missed out Chivas USA references and the laughable suggestion that SC members are all being paid by NYCFC.

    This article from December 2012 proves there were are people who wanted a professional club in the state of NEW YORK. No doubt that meeting included some of those who are involved with the supporters club right now. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/06/sports/soccer/mls-sets-sights-on-team-and-stadium-in-queens.html

    Perhaps there was some complacency when it came to MLS awarding the city with a new club. It was inevitable at some point that a new club in the city of New York would be formed. In Philadelphia and Orlando that wasn’t guaranteed to the same extent. Of course they had to fight harder that is simply a matter of location. Just because NY fans didn’t feel the need to hoot and holler at every opportunity does not mean nobody wanted it. Sons of Ben certainly are the standard to meet there’s no doubt about that.

    How do you feel about Tottenham and the partnership with Real Madrid? How exactly did that ever help Tottenham? Didn’t 5000 fans sign a petition to have that partnership abolished? Maybe you should look at a club as prestigious as Tottenham becoming Real Madrid’s glorified feeder club before picking supposed holes in the NYCFC/MCFC relationship.

    How do you feel about Mike Petke of Red Bulls welcoming NYCFC? Does that make him a supporter of human rights abuses?

    Human rights abuses are not being swept under the rug. People such as Chance Michaels (one of the main faces and financial backers of the SC that supposedly does not exist) have outright publicly condemned some of the UAE’s practices. Besides that have the likes of Sheik Mansour and Khaldoon Al Mubarak commented publicly on their personal feelings? You can’t just tear apart an entire culture overnight it takes time especially with nonsense like religion involved.

    Do Red Bull have an upstanding human rights record? Did they care about Austria Salzburg fans human rights when they stole their club from them? Strange how RB fans just rolled over and accepted the rebranding so easily isn’t it? (albeit it without the history of Salzburg)

    Anybody who pays you by the looks of this article is being ripped off.

    • James in Long Island

      Oh yes, let’s all wait for the Sheikh to announce his personal feelings on torture and violent homophobia. It’s not like he’s in a position to actually change anything, being the deputy prime minister and all.

      I don’t care what one of your SC leaders condemned. If he still supports the team, he is still complicit in their efforts to sanitize their public image for the West.

      Your comparison of the practices of the Sheikh’s government to Red Bull’s ownership of soccer teams is a joke and is downright insulting to the victims of the Sheikh’s regime. But hey, whatever you’ve got to tell yourself to support a team in one of your precious boroughs.

      Shame on you.

      • Vinjay

        He’s the deputy PM correct does that give him power to draw up any kind of legislation he wants without approval? Would the Vice President in the US have the power to rip up an entire constitution? Not even Obama himself would. I don’t know how he feels but this is ingrained in the UAE culture and religion. Its not going to change overnight.

        As a heavy handed corporation are you saying Red Bull have no record of infringing human rights? As for Salzburg their protests were cruelly referred to as “kindergarten stuff” by prominent RB offciais. I never said it was at the same level (that’s your twisted interpretation) but did RB care about the severe emotional strain inflicted on the fans of Austria Salzburg?

  • James in Long Island

    Great article. NY2 is worse than just a lame, unnecessary attempt to milk slightly more money out of the USA’s largest media market. It’s an actual disgrace to the league and the sport.

  • MikeDatTiger

    I posted this on the NYCFC forums and someone there suggested I should post it on here. Basically, this article isn’t backed up by some pretty basic facts.


  • the “plastic” fan

    What I got from this article —

    Hi I’m Zac, I’ve been following soccer for 8 years, MLS for 4. I support 4 teams, 2 of which co-compete in European competition. But I’m going to write a diary entry about how you’re all plastic fans.

    • Vinjay

      Strange too how the detractors only response to “human rights” is to target a football/soccer club. Surely if you feel ever so strongly about the UAE why not form pressure groups on the US government and trading standards? Is it because its faked outrage by Red Bull and Cosmos fans who really couldn’t give a toss about human rights and are simply threatened by a new club?

      • Rufus T Firefly

        Cosmos fans wailing about human rights violations? You can’t make that stuff up! I reckon it was okay for the Cosmos to take their slave labor manufactured Nike kits with the Emirates logo and wing on over to the UAE to collect a paycheck. BTW when do they take Emirates off the front of the jersey and replace it with Hindenburg?

        • Incorrect Rufus Firefly. Air Emirates is not a government owned company. Nobody who owns the Cosmos is a government official in a repressive government. We are not bigots, we don’t discriminate because a person comes from an Arab country. But if you are personally responsible for a law that calls for the castration of homosexuals, no matter where your from, we ought to not be doing business with you. It’s that simple. I’m sorry morality is so ambiguous to you.

          • Rufus T Firefly

            Fail Leo. The Cosmos did business in the evil UAE. The we’re not the government excuse is the same crap the people of Germany used back when the Nazis were in power. Wrong then, wrong now. I guess as long as the checks cleared those sheikhs aren’t bad guys, are they?

            BTW how much did you pay for your Cosmos jersey? Doesn’t it bother you that you spent 100 bucks on something that was made by a child getting paid 30 cents a day?

            • Rufus, sorry, we don’t hate Arabs. We don’t believe that playing a soccer game against a UAE league team is a bad thing, we think it’s a good thing. We think being the Deputy Prime Minister of a country that castrates homosexuals isn’t as bad as buying a pair of nikes. You’re now comparing me and others who buy a cosmos shirt to nazis. Well done, you’re power of argument is impressive. if I were you I would stay anonymous.

              • Rufus T Firefly

                Leo it isn’t difficult to understand. Show us where Emirate Airline has spoken out about human rights violations in their own country. Had any of the teams the Cosmos played spoken out against their government and human rights violations? You mean they haven’t? That’s rather complicit, isn’t it? You should ashamed if your conscience doesn’t bother you the next time you put on that Nike jersey.

  • “This article from December 2012 proves there were are people who wanted a professional club in the state of NEW YORK. No doubt that meeting included some of those who are involved with the supporters club right now. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/06/sports/soccer/mls-sets-sights-on-team-and-stadium-in-queens.html

    Uhmm, no Vinkjay. Not a single person who is involved with NYCFC was involved in trying to get a stadium in Queens. Not one. That was the Borough Boys. There was nobody, no one, zero, people who are now part of NYCFC supporters who were at the town hall meeting or had anything to do with it.

    Garber very personally attempted to recruit the Borough Boys to be the supporters club but when we found out it would be this abomination, there wasn’t a chance in hell. That’s because we care about soccer in this city and this country.

    • Rufus T Firefly

      Bourough Boys? Aren’t they the guys who wouldn’t support the Red Bulls because they weren’t a NYC team and ended up supporting the Long Island Cosmos? Talk about useful idiots!

      • Your jealousy is showing. But you’re still welcome for everything we’ve done for soccer in NY. Later Rufus.

  • Captain Plastic

    so many rules to supporting. It’s really getting over-regulated

  • Dan

    I find it pitiful that any fan of the MLS could possibly like this article. How could you possibly be against the expansion and growth of a League desperate for a taste of success. NYCFC and Orlando and Miami will bring the players necessary to expand the ever so small spotlight that is currently on this league. Anyone willing to come to America with a deep pocket and invest in something the majority of the world, including Mexico, laugh at.. yes US Soccer, should be praised.
    If you’re a fan of NYCFC I welcome you to come to my site and join in on discussion with others of like mind – http://nycfcforums.com

    • Tom

      Finally, a reasonable man on this forum..

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  • Anthony

    Those sentiments are so often repeated by almost everyone I meet in NYC that are soccer fans. Bravo

  • Tell me more about this “movement.”

  • rob

    I noticed the subtle dig at Seattle. Go **** yourself Deadbulls. Youre nothing more than an advert for an energy drink. And even though nycfc are a complete joke, they will be the death of your fake club. And ill be laughing the whole time!

    • Anonymous

      I’m a Portland Timbers fan and I endorse this message.

  • And Zac Wassink, becoming increasingly critical of MLS, becomes yet another walkout from American Soccer’s very own Truman Show.

    The truth hurts, plastic fans!

    • You keep my name out of this sir!

  • Well played Zac… Well played. Let’s not forget that Ethiad Airways is the official Airlines of MLS… And the Jersey sponsor for NYCFC… Nicknamed the Plastics.

  • Stephen Miller

    Bravo. While you only briefly touched upon it, I think the Gaber was able to utilize the “NewYorkers need a franchise IN the 5 boroughs to actually support a team” mentality to justify accepting the huge financial windfall that comes with the Oil Money.

    Yet, this only makes sense if you stick the franchise in Flushing – for Manhattanites & Stanten Islanders, getting to Harrison isn’t all that bad via public transit (PATH / Amtrak). The real pain comes if you live in Brooklyn or Queens; something a franchise in Flushing would complement very well. By grabbing the easy money, the franchise is “slated” to be playing games in the South Bronx – not particularly easy for people living in Brooklyn or the majority of Queens to get to (in particularly via public transit, but definitely driving for Brooklynites). This only helps the Manhattan elite who didn’t feel like transferring between trains in NJ – not exactly a sympathetic population – and Bronxites (the 4th largest borough).

    I just don’t get it. I don’t get how Garber could so blatantly go against what soccer fans living in NYC want. I understand that land in Manhattan is prohibitively expensive. I understand that developers don’t like the idea of building all the way out in Flushing even if you could get there via bevy of public transit options (LIRR, Subway, bus, etc.).

    Throw in the Oil Money and throw in the “failed” Cosmo’s organic, grassroots growth, you get a very disillusioned New Yorker on what MLS’ priorities really are.

  • “Kids, wannabe soccer journos who don’t get paid for their blogs/articles and who also get press passes to NYCFC events because MLS hands those things out like they are candy.” And you are?

    • Anonymous

      He’s the NY Energy Drinks fan who gets paid for writing vapid articles about rival clubs that begin with the proclamation that said fandom didn’t influence his views and then proceed to talk about “plastic fans” and human rights abuses before amusingly answering the hypothetical question of whether he would take a job with NYCFC with “I honestly can’t say” addidng that such an offer would be an “amazing opportunity”. So yeah…don’t be a playa hata…

  • SWunity

    if NYCFC has done nothing else, it’s given the Metro diehards and Red Bull converts something to hate equally. Will ‘Kumbaya’ be added to the playlists and Capo wrist bands? FORZA!!!

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  • Bronx Boy

    Well the good news is the fact the backers have money means they won’t need public subsidies for a new stadium. The rights issues claim proves you know jack about UAE politics and society or football generally, which is full of scumbag ownerships far worse than these guys.

    I welcome the development of a team I don’t have to spend up to 3 hours on MTA and NJ Transit to go and see, an actual NY team that will hopefully represent our city and its diverse soccer fanbase in a more effective way and that, at the very least, will lead to the development of a local rivalry (crucial to the development of any soccer league).

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  • Jason

    And there you have it, a newly spawned evil empire. Can’t wait to beat the New Jersey Energy Drinks in the South Boogie

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  • Tony Geinzer

    In hindsight, had the MLS had the NFL’s Sunday Night Ratings, would have New York City FC been Genius and Slick instead of a “Plastic” Waste of Hot Air for the rest of Football, English and Texan?

  • Nick L

    Here’s my experience as a 10 year resident of Manhattan/Brooklyn & a diehard euro/national soccer fan struggling to get interested with the MLS w/ no concern over sponsors, owners’ politics, or team affiliations:

    Cosmos – went once, bigger crowds at my high school games, kind of sad.

    RB – went a few times per season & sat w/ supporters, the team was decent, the crowds were sparse, capos struggled to get fans into it at times. Still clamouring to be the metro stars & don’t like being called Red Bull. Great stadium when not empty. Tough commute back to the city w/ trains not running, transfers, aggravating every time. No atmosphere around stadium. Basically seems like not many people or the owners give ****, maybe different if you lived in Jersey.

    NYCFC – so far, the crowds have been great, still figuring it out, but there is excitement. There is a sea of passionate fans from all walks of life under the tracks after every game, win or lose, going mental for the team as if they just won the World Cup. There seems to be more passion & more fans for this team already because they are associated with the city. Or maybe just because it’s new. Either way they are doing a great job and they are fans and real people w/ soccer knowledge & history. Not all, but a lot of them. Yankee stadium is alright, security & rules are too invasive. Organization seems determined to promote and willing to spend on this team & fans.

    All things considered, the best experience for me has been through NYCFC. Though, the choice seems pretty simple: NYC, NJ, or LI? Most people would always pick NYC. The MLS is still rough to follow.