New York City FC Profile
David Villa, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo among the stars to have played for NYCFC.
In 2006, MLS founding team New York/New Jersey MetroStars sold to Red Bull and rebranded as the New York Red Bulls. As a condition of the sale, the team waived exclusive territorial rights to New York, allowing MLS to add a second team to the largest metropolitan area in the United States.
The league discussed forming a team with the owners of the New York Mets as early as 2007 but continued to look for investors. They announced in 2010 that a team would join the league in 2013, but this was pushed back when the proposed New York Cosmos reboot joined the NASL instead. It was rumoured that FC Barcelona would invest in a New York franchise, but they opted to try for Miami before that fell through.
Manchester City instead jumped in and became the new owners, opting to work with the New York Yankees on a $100million expansion fee. New York City Football Club was officially announced on May 21, 2013, with former US men's national team midfielder Claudio Reyna as the director of football operations.
NYCFC hired former Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis on December 11, 2013, as they prepared for their first game in the 2015 season. He took the job four days after losing the MLS Cup final with RSL on penalty kicks. The club confirmed in April 2014 they would play home games at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx while looking for a site for a soccer-specific stadium, which as of 2021, is not yet in development.
NYCFC have three nicknames: The Pigeons, The Bronx Blues and The Boys in Blue. The club colours are navy blue, sky blue and orange. The badge is a circle with interlocking NYC in white, surrounded by a dark blue circle. The outer circle is sky blue with alternating rings of navy blue and orange.
In their first six years in MLS, NYCFC have had regular-season success, but they have failed in the play-offs every season. In four of their first five seasons, they finished in the top three in the Eastern Conference but never progressed past the quarter-final round of the play-offs. They also have yet to get past the quarter-final stage of the US Open Cup or the CONCACAF Champions League.
There has been something of a revolving door for sideline staff, with four presidents and four managers in six seasons, while only one manager has worked more than one full season.
NYCFC have had tons of success off the field. They have averaged at least 21,000 fans in every season during which supporters have been allowed to attend games. They have also attracted some of the top talent from around the world in terms of Designated Players. Spain's David Villa, England's Frank Lampard and Italy's Andrea Pirlo were all in NYCFC's inaugural team in 2015. USMNT players Mix Diskerud and Sean Johnson have also played for NYCFC along with Brazilian forward Heber, Finnish midfielder Alexander Ring and current Leeds United midfielder Jack Harrison.
NYCFC join MLS
Before they began to play in 2015, the Pigeons added talent. Their first signing was Spanish World Cup-winning striker David Villa from Atletico Madrid. They followed this up with former Chelsea and England star midfielder Frank Lampard. They also had the second overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft and took Oregon State forward Khiry Shelton.
Mix Diskerud scored the first-ever NYCFC goal in a 1-1 draw at Orlando City on March 8, 2015. A week later, their home opener drew 43,507 fans to Yankee Stadium for a 2-0 win over New England Revolution, with Villa scoring the first goal. They didn't win again until June 6, with seven losses and four draws in that period. They won four of the next five and added Andrea Pirlo from Juventus on a Designated Player deal at the end of July.
NYCFC were eliminated by NASL side New York Cosmos in the fourth round of the US Open Cup on penalty kicks. They finished eighth in the Eastern Conference and 17th overall in the MLS standings, missing the play-offs. Villa led the team with 18 goals, while Lampard had three in just 10 games.
Play-offs breakthrough - but no further joy
Kries was fired on November 2, 2015, and NYCFC brought in French midfielder Patrick Vieira for his first managerial job. In the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, they picked England midfielder Jack Harrison from Wake Forest University. They also added defenders Ronald Matarrita and Diego Martinez.
They won their season-opener 4-3 in Chicago but played the next seven games without a victory. They finally got going with three straight wins before a devastating 7-0 loss to local rivals Red Bulls at home. NYCFC won four straight to end June and start July but were again eliminated by the Cosmos in the fourth round of the US Open Cup. From the end of July on, they had just three losses in 12 games and battled with Red Bulls for the top spot in the East. A defeat in the penultimate game of the season meant NYCFC finished second in the conference and fourth overall in the MLS standings.
Their first-ever play-off appearance didn't go according to plan as they faced No. 5 seed Toronto FC. In the first leg, they lost 2-0 in Canada, and the second leg finished with a 5-0 home defeat in front of 28,355 fans. Villa again led the team with 23 goals over the season, while Lampard scored 12 times in 21 games. Pirlo had a team-high 11 assists.
Lampard retired after the 2016 season while NYCFC brought in goalkeeper Sean Johnson from Chicago and midfielder Alexander Ring from Kaiserslautern in Germany. They also added midfielder Maxi Moralez as a Designated Player to replace Lampard and defender Ben Sweat on a free transfer.
The 2017 regular season was another success for the Boys in Blue as they won 16 games, drew nine and lost nine. They finished in second place in the East with 57 points, 12 behind Toronto FC. In the US Open Cup, they were again ousted in the fourth round, this time by the Red Bulls 1-0. The MLS play-offs saw NYCFC go up against Columbus Crew and they lost 4-1 on the road in the first leg as Villa scored. Villa scored again in the second leg as NYCFC won 2-0, but the Crew advanced 4-3 on aggregate.
Pirlo retired after the 2017 season and returned to Italy. NYCFC traded Shelton to Sporting Kansas City for defender Saad Abdul-Salaam and signed midfielder Jesus Medina on a D.P. deal from Club Libertad. Harrison, who had scored 14 goals in 55 games, was sold to Manchester City.
After winning five of their first six games in the 2018 campaign, the Pigeons fell on hard times with just two wins from the next seven. On June 11, five days after losing 4-0 to Red Bulls in the US Open Cup, Vieira was fired and replaced by Manchester City assistant Domenec Torrent. His first game in charge was a 2-1 home win over Toronto, and after losing in Chicago, NYCFC won four straight to start July. August was a struggle as NYCFC won just once between July 26 and September 26. That slump left them in seventh place overall, third in the East.
For the first time in franchise history, NYCFC advanced in the play-offs as they beat Philadelphia Union 3-1 in the knockout round. But in the conference semi-finals, they lost both legs against Atlanta United and were eliminated 4-1 on aggregate.
Villa left for Japan after the 2018 season having scored 77 goals in 117 MLS games for NYCFC. They brought in Argentine midfielder Valentin Castellanos and Brazilian striker Heber. The 2019 season started with three straight draws, a loss, and two more draws. They got rolling from there with seven wins and three draws from the next 10 games. June finally saw NYCFC win games in the US Open Cup as they beat North Carolina FC 4-0 in the fourth round and D.C. United 2-1 in the fifth round. Their run ended in the quarter-finals with a penalty-kick defeat on the road against Orlando City SC.
NYCFC also had a five-game winning streak in MLS in August and September, and they went on to set a franchise record with 64 points, six more than Atlanta United in the East standings. They finished second overall to LAFC in total points and goals scored (63). As the top seed in the Eastern Conference play-offs, they succumbed to the pressure and lost to Toronto FC 2-1 through a 90th-minute penalty kick at Citi Field. Heber led the team with 15 goals over the season.
Deila in and Leagues Cup place secured
Despite a franchise record in points and a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League, Torrent was fired after the play-off loss to Toronto. Ronny Deila was brought in from Norway's Valerenga to manage the side. He made his debut in the CONCACAF Champions League in February with 5-3 and 1-0 wins over Costa Rican side San Carlos. Heber scored a hat-trick in the opening leg of the last-16 tie. The first leg of the quarter-finals resulted in a 1-0 home loss to Mexico's UANL on March 11, and the second leg was suspended until December, with UANL eventually winning 4-0.
The 2020 MLS season started with two 1-0 away defeats at Columbus and Toronto before the season was paused due to COVID-19. At the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando in July, they were eliminated in the group stage with one win and two losses. Yankee Stadium wasn't always available in the summer due to COVID-19 concerns and NYCFC played five home games in New Jersey at the Red Bull Arena until the Yankees' season ended. They won four of those games and won their return to Yankee Stadium on October 7 against D.C. United.
NYCFC ended the season with four straight wins to finish fifth in the East and qualify for the 2021 Leagues Cup. In the first round of the play-offs, they travelled to Orlando City and the game finished 1-1 after 120 minutes, Maxime Chanot on target. Orlando City had gone down to nine players and finished the penalty shoot-out with a defender in goal but still eliminated NYCFC 6-5.
Deila was retained after the 2020 season and NYCFC will participate in the 2021 Leagues Cup. The competition debuted in 2019 and the 2021 edition will feature eight MLS teams and eight teams from Mexico's Liga MX. The 2020 version was cancelled due to COVID-19.
The biggest rival for NYCFC by far is the New York Red Bulls. The teams compete in the Hudson River Derby, with the first game having taken place in 2015. The Red Bulls won 2-1 at home. Indeed, they won the first four matches, including humiliating NYCFC 7-0 at Yankee Stadium in 2016. The first NYCFC win came in the next meeting, 2-0 at Yankee Stadium, but they lost 4-1 at the Red Bull Arena three weeks later.
The Red Bulls have eliminated NYCFC from the US Open Cup twice, in 2017 and 2018. The teams split their 2020 games, with Red Bulls winning 1-0 at home in August and NYCFC winning 5-2 at Yankee Stadium in November.
In their first 18 meetings, the Red Bulls have 10 wins while NYCFC have six. The teams have shared two draws.
NYCFC's top players
NYCFC have had big names in their ranks, starting with David Villa, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo. Villa is the franchise leader in games played, with 126 in total, 117 of which in MLS. Goalie Sean Johnson enters the 2021 season with 116 games played, while Alexander Ring also has 116 and Maxi Moralez has 104.
Villa scored 77 MLS goals, a team record, and added three more in the MLS Cup play-offs for a total of 80. Moralez has scored 21 goals in total, five more than Heber.
Jack Harrison was the most successful draft pick for NYCFC. They sold the midfielder to Manchester City, and he is currently on loan in the English Premier League with Leeds United.