Foootball can be cruel. Andrea Pirlo came up injured before the first leg in Toronto and Frank Lampard couldn’t be trusted to play starter minutes yet in such an intense away game, so Patrick Vieira had to roll the dice on a very defensive midfield duo of Mikey Lopez and Federico Bravo feeling like his side wouldn’t dictate possession in such a hostile environment anyways missing its two legendary midfield generals.
Perhaps a little bit of his old gaffer Jose Mourinho also rubbed off on him, influencing his decision to try the pragmatic defensive approach in enemy territory. Hell, it certainly worked for the Special One once or twice.
Of course, it almost did work for Vieira’s Celestes as well in the club’s MLS Cup Playoffs debut, until the 84th minute when the flood of Toronto’s will to score was finally too much for the dam of New York City’s defense to withstand any longer. Wave after wave of attacks finally put New York City FC on its back, forcing the Blues to bring home a very disappointing 2-goal deficit after so much hard work maintaining that precious clean sheet for most of the match.
For sure, these were two late goals that brought New York City FC and its fans back to Earth quickly. You couldn’t help but reflect on your own 2016 season mortality following the first leg, but what do we do when we fall, New York? You better get up off your ass and prepare to fight, that’s what.
You’ve marched, you’ve sang, you’ve cheered all year long during this roller coaster season. You’ve taken absolute beatings from rivals, you’ve endured dismal winless streaks, and you’ve gotten knocked off your hard-earned perch at the top of the East more than once. But, your support was instrumental in keeping New York City in playoff contention. Now, you must fight for your lives.
Indeed, the odds clearly tell us that this is very likely the last chance in 2016 that you’ll be able to will your team, your City, to victory through your songs, your drums, and your clapping palms. If it is to be, then you had better make it count. Because you won’t be able to do it again in a competitive match until March of 2017 if New York City lose. This is the last stand. Leave it all in Yankee Stadium.
Remember, there is nothing to fear. I don’t care if NYCFC goes down 4 more goals in Yankee Stadium. Don’t shut down. Make a statement for the world to see, and do realize that many people will be following this match globally since New York City’s iconic legends David Villa, Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo and Patrick Vieira will all be involved in a do-or-die playoff match for the first time in their MLS careers. Hell, for one of them it could even be the last match of his career.
You also know that many MLS fans will be tuning in hoping to see New York City lose and get embarrassed. Many will be watching, rubbing their hands together like Birdman in anticipation of seeing you squirm and get shut up at your home field. Showing your true, “plastic” colors. Don’t give those miserable, insecure bastards the satisfaction.
Here is your chance to make a statement, whether your players execute on the pitch or not. Don’t waste this opportunity to show the world what you’re about. This is more than about results. It’s more than about the 2016 season. This is about showing the world the identity of New York City’s supporters, and the world will be watching.
You have been known to sing in the streets after a win, draw or loss. Do it in the stands for 90-120 minutes too, no matter what transpires on the pitch. It will provide the best atmosphere possible to potentially propel New York City FC to an epic comeback, and if they fall short, at least the world knows you are brave, passionate, down-right serious supporters who truly understand the game and live up to what those words mean.
If you fall behind, don’t shrink. Don’t lose your enthusiasm. This could be the last match of the season. Make it count. Leave it all in Yankee Stadium like you expect your players to leave it all on the pitch. There’s a reason the supporters are called “the 12th man” around the world. You’ll need to play your part too. They need you.
We can achieve everything. Everything. And it’s important for the players and the fans to understand that. But to achieve what we want, there will be a consistent performance we need to achieve, and we are not going to achieve that without the support of the fans.
We will need their support… If we get really strong support from the fans, players will work 10 times harder because they want to please the football club, they’ll really want to please the fans, and they’ll want to achieve our goals.
– Patrick Vieira
Show the world what this means to you and remind Toronto of where they are. They’re in New York City, against a heavyweight that, if he goes down, will be going down swinging.
If you inspire that heavyweight to get up and claw his way back to victory to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, then you will have achieved something very special, not just in the short history of this club, but also in the history of Major League Soccer. And you know damned well it’s possible.
Your 2016 season lives are on the line. Are you ready to call an end to this year’s journey? Are you fine with getting knocked out by Toronto? If not, then give everything you have to do your part to make sure you don’t.
Don’t go out on a whimper. If your beloved New York City ends up getting eliminated at home, then goddammit, go out roaring, standing tall, full of voice inspired by your pride for your City and the team that represents you. Leave an impression on them and the world who will be watching you. This is the only way that you can guarantee that you win, even if your team loses.
The narrative is in your hands. It’s up to you, New York.