NYCFC Suffer Hudson Derby Sweep, But Still Much To CelebrateLosses are to be expected for any expansion side, but silver linings are abundant for New York City FC and New York Soccer
by Nick Chavez | Monday, August 10, 2015
Derby losses are painful, and 3-out-of-3 for New York City FC’s expansion team and its fans against likely MLS Cup contender New York Red Bulls night in New Jersey must feel particularly excruciating.
But an expansion team it still is, and one that has suffered several key injuries and absences throughout the year, some that still persist.
Indeed, several players have come and gone. Some players that were thought to be starters to be counted on no longer figure whatsoever, and a few have shined brighter than expected, such as the excellent Tommy McNamara, Kwadwo Poku and Josh Saunders.
NYCFC didn’t have Pirlo, Lampard, Angelino, Iraola or Mena (or George John) for the first two derbies. This Hudson Derby was also only Lampard’s first start, and only Pirlo’s second, both coming off of short vacations after long, competitive seasons playing at the highest level in Europe.
Many forewarned that these factors, amongst others, were reasons against signing NYCFC’s last two Designated Players, and they may end up being right in the end. However, it is still too early for us to pass a final judgement on these signings, as all of Pirlo, Lampard and Mena have barely recovered from their jet lag yet, and Lampard admitted following the Red Bull loss that he still hasn’t reached full fitness.
One should also keep in mind how long it took David Beckham (who later won 2 MLS Cups and 2 Supporters’ Shields) and Thierry Henry (who later won the Supporters’ Shield) to hit their respective strides in MLS after famously underperforming for several seasons.
Traveling New York City FC fans at Red Bull Arena (Photo by Richie Correa)
There are other reasons to be optimistic. Mix Diskerud played, arguably, his best match in an NYCFC shirt. His drive, fight and leadership were there as an example for all to see, and these are the types of matches that you want to see your leaders stand up and be counted.
Mix has come under some serious criticism lately, and rightfully so as the majority of his performances with NYCFC has been underwhelming, but he gave all New York City fans reason to give him a second chance, especially now playing in a position that allows him to be closer to goal and run at defenses, where he has always been more effective in his career. A player with his considerable engine, pace and increased grittiness in the midfield is also much needed in this aging and offensive-minded NYCFC midfield.
Big picture, this match was yet another remarkable chapter in what is becoming the biggest rivalry in the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer, and very arguably already the 2nd most-heated rivalry after Seattle Sounders v. Portland Timbers.
This is something that many “experts” and journalists thought wouldn’t happen, that would be too good to be true. They thought New York City wouldn’t care about MLS. That we couldn’t have something rivaling the crown jewel of MLS support found in the Pacific Northwest. But, New York City’s soccer fans had other ideas, much to their credit.
In this intense, raucous atmosphere in Red Bull Arena, that many would have only dreamed to see between two New York-area MLS sides, the dream endures in reality. Three Hudson Derbies in, and there’s still a massive appetite for this fixture. Red Bull Arena had it’s 3rd biggest crowd ever with 25,219 spectators.
We are in the throes of a New York, really American soccer, revolution. What they said was highly improbable, has instead come to fruition. Both Red Bull and New York City fans should be very proud of being such a big part of this.
Red Bull Coach Jesse Marsch, again, seems to be agreeing with this assessment when he remarked,“The energy leading up to the game was big. The energy around the stadium on the night was big. There is no doubt that this was special.”
Absolutely no doubt. But the road for an expansion team can be difficult, and it certainly will be for New York City moving forward, as both the team and its fans must.
There are stern tests ahead versus some of the best teams in MLS including away matches at DC, Columbus, LA and Dallas. These will be very difficult matches for New York City’s still gelling and adapting side to win. But they’ll need to win most of them to clinch their outside chance of reaching the playoffs in their inaugural season.
On the bright side, New York City FC is a big, ambitious club with great players and a top coach in MLS, and you only become a great side by battling the best in the league and earning results. Win or lose, these are exciting matches that will determine New York City FC’s playoff fate in 2015. The bigger the foe, the more sweet the potential victory.
NYCFC fans, there is nothing to fear. It’s not up to you to perform on the pitch. Worrying will not improve the team’s chance to make the playoffs, but your support can, both in the stands and with social media. Remind the players that they still have something to play for besides a paycheck.
Remind City Football Group and the New York Yankees that you are here for the long haul, and that they should continue to do whatever it takes to build that soccer-specific stadium in the 5 Boroughs. Give them confidence that this yet-to-be-built cathedral will be filled for decades to come, and that New York City already has all the ingredients to build a great football club by the world’s standard.
And remind the world, which is watching you, that New York City doesn’t so easily abandon its team. That New York City isn’t so easily deterred, discouraged or silenced. Again, there is more at stake here than just results. We are talking about the establishment and perseverance of the most important sport in the world in the greatest city there is. Your city.
You’re part of its history and foundation forever. Now it’s up to you look after your legacy of showing that the beautiful game can thrive in New York City, not just for you, but for future generations of New York Soccer fans.