By Nick Chavez
So, they let us down again.
The inability to capitalize on early chances, and an extremely boneheaded move from the otherwise steady Alex Callens cut New York City down to 10 men, almost certainly doomed Los Celestes to yet another Eastern Conference semifinal exit in the playoffs.
Almost is the key word here. There’s at least another 90 minutes left to play in the Bronx on Sunday. And NYCFC, almost at full strength, is at least the 2nd best team in MLS at their best.
Of course, New York City hasn’t been at their best lately, much of that due to not having a true home game in 2 months, recovering from injuries, and key players being pulled in and out of international duty. Fatigue seems to have set in, and likely a decline in confidence as well.
In a season that seemed so promising just a few months ago, NYCFC has already appeared to have bottled it. But, we still have at least one more date with our boys in blue before we bring the curtain down on only our 3rd season as a club.
Man, it’s already been 3 seasons! It’s only been 3 seasons! I think we can all relate to both of these sentiments at times. But, it’s times like this that we need to remember that as recently as 2014, New York didn’t have a club to call their own.
No soccer games to go to in New York to watch the game at the highest level. No legendary, goal-scoring Captain to cheer on in our home city. No locally-grown players to support and dream about what the future may hold for them. Nothing. Your best bet was to go to New Jersey.
And then you look at New York City’s worthy opponents the Columbus Crew. This is a very good team, in great form at just the right time, who, with their local fans and front office, are galvanized by the high likelihood of facing their own sporting mortality. A club as old as the league itself, one of MLS’s originals, whose city may never have another team to support locally in our country’s top division again.
Perspective is a hell of a thing. I personally don’t know what I’d do without it. And while many of you have rightfully felt the the pangs of frustration and disappointment of following New York City FC with dedication all season just to be let down yet again, it’s important to remember what you should be thankful for when it comes to your local soccer.
It could be a lot worse. So remember to celebrate that it’s not. Don’t sell your tickets. Don’t watch from home. Go to Yankee Stadium and support your boys who have truly worked hard all year, and give the Columbus Crew hell. Let them know New York isn’t going to make it that easy for them.
Let your voices be heard. Spend what may be your last NYCFC game of 2017 with your NYCFC Family. Sing your songs while you still can. Support a legend like David Villa, who fought his ass off in Columbus, while he still plies his trade here. He’s not getting any younger. His games, and especially his playoff home games in New York City, are finite. It’s up to you, New York City’s supporters, to give him and this team that we love the atmosphere they deserve. Hell, you owe it to yourselves.
And maybe, just maybe, the dominoes will fall in your favor. I’ve seen teams come back from 3-0 deficits in the same game. Even climbing out of bigger holes than that. The odds are stacked against NYCFC, for sure. But, believe me, the odds get significantly better if you’re behind your boys.
I challenge you all again, like I did so many times before, to make a statement. No matter the score. No matter the team’s performance. No matter the final result. You are New York.
You are the envy of the world. The home of ambition. The synergy of human diversity incarnate. And I’ll be damned if you’re too disappointed, or too damn scared to be disappointed, to not go to Yankee Stadium and let your team, your opponent and the whole damn world hear your voices at least one last time in 2017.
As I’ve said before, there are always opportunities to achieve victories even in defeat. Show the world what you might sound like in your own stadium on a playoff night. How many new fans might that attract from the neutrals that happen to be watching in New York? How many players might that impress who may be moved by this demonstration and be more eager to play in our city? And how might that inspire our players to play that much harder to survive on Sunday?
3-0 is by no means an impossible scoreline for New York City FC, especially not at home in the Bronx. Not with Spain’s all-time leading scorer up top. Not with the attacking ability of Jack Harrison, Maxi Moralez, Rodney Wallace, Ronald Matarrita and Jonathan Lewis. Not with the midfield quality of Alexander Ring and Yangel Herrera.
If it is our destiny, go out with a roar. Go out with a fight. Go out with some pride. Send out a warning shot to the rest of Major League Soccer that they’ll have to contend with this club and this raucous crowd every season this way. No matter what.
Never cower. Never shut up. And never let anyone ruin our party and our time together.
Sunday may very well be our last match of 2017 in New York. Let’s make it count. I’ll see you all out there.