By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard
When MLS announced the long sought after second New York franchise, New York City FC (NYCFC), we expressed our doubts and drew similarities to another same city franchise, Chivas USA, that eventually folded. We are sad to say that NYCFC is pretty much following in the same footsteps as Chivas USA. Footsteps that will lead to it being the laughing stock of MLS.
Back in 2013 when we posted ‘The Pros and Cons of New York City FC’ we pointed out what we called the ‘Chivas Effect’. It stated:
Last time an ownership group that owned another prominent international football club expanded into MLS it was called Chivas USA. They had the lowest attendance in MLS last season, currently have no regional TV deal, and have been constantly pointed to as one of the worst run clubs in MLS. When they originally came into the league they wanted to use Chivas USA as a farm team for Chivas Guadalajara. Now they are rumored to be on the selling block.
Chivas folded shortly there after. Now NYCFC is laying a similar foundation that Chivas did.
NYCFC has brought in players pass their prime (David Villa, Andrea Pirlo, and Frank Lampard). Granted these are some great players and even after they’ve lost a step they are still pretty damn good. However, they weren’t even together for a full season. Lampard was kept by the parent club, Manchester City, for the entire 2014-2015 season and Pirlo didn’t show up until sometime in July. So manager Jason Kreis had about half a season to work them into the club.
In the spirit of ‘Chivas’, NYCFC fired Kreis after one season. Kreis was, at one point, the all time goal scorer in MLS, helped build a powerhouse in Real Salt Lake and took it to two MLS Cups, winning one of those trips. Apparently he should have melded Pirlo and Lampard into the club better in the 3 months he had with them.
Kreis was set up for failure. Claudio Reyna is the Director of Football Operations for NYCFC. Let’s be honest about Reyna, he has little experience in the role and it’s pretty obvious that Manchester City is pulling the strings from England. How do we know this? Patrick Vieira was appointed to replace Kreis. A man, while a legend in the football community, has never played a second in MLS and has zero experience in the league. A league that is considered very physical and has a travel schedule that Vieira has never dealt experience. Not to mention that the league plays in four timezones, at elevation and various climates.
If NYCFC really wants to win in MLS then you have to examine how other successful MLS franchises have done it. Teams like the LA Galaxy, DC United, Sporting KC and the San Jose Earthquakes. All of whom have hoisted MLS Cup multiple times. Yes, they have had their lulls but overall, they have been pretty successful MLS franchises.
To get to more specific, how about this: First, get a coach who has MLS experience either as a player or as a coach. The four teams left in the playoffs, their manager was a former player in the league. Don’t do what Chivas did which was change a coach every year (they went through nine not counting the ‘interim’ folks), use your designated players on people who will help your team and not just sell tickets. Finally, find some patience.
There is a whole lot of time left for NYCFC to do the right thing and become a successful MLS franchise. They are currently not doing any of it but when there is this much money involved (they paid MLS $500 million to get into the league) you would have to imagine that they will figure it out eventually. Unfortunately for the supports, eventually may be a few years off.