Andrea Pirlo. Photo: Elizabeth Shrier
Who they are: The only Major League Soccer team in the region that plays within the city limits. Last season’s club made the playoffs, finishing second in the Eastern Conference, and drew more home fans than all but two other MLS franchises.
Faces of the franchise: A pair of European designated players—striker David Villa, who’s also the captain, and midfielder Andrea Pirlo—make up the team’s creative engine, generating enough offense for NYCFC to have led the league in scoring (not to mention in World Cup champions). Former number-one draft pick Jack Harrison adds youth and flash on the wing; he logged seven assists in his rookie season last year.
Key additions: While NYCFC did not lack for scoring, it did suffer on its own half of the field. Two new players will look to improve the defensive side of the ledger: Alexander Callens, a Peruvian national team player, should slot in at center back; and goal keeper Sean Johnson, acquired in an off-season trade, brings years of net-minding experience. The team also added a third designated player, Argentinian midfielder Maximiliano Moralez, to help fill the shoes of retired player Frank Lampard.
Fan club: The Third Rail (Sample chant: “Villa Villa Villa, can’t you see? / Sometimes your goals just hypnotize me!”)
Local supporters’ bar: Places near Yankee Stadium should work; other bars that hold away-game watch parties include Ryan’s Daughter on the Upper East Side, and St. Pat’s Bar & Grill in Midtown, official home of The Third Rail.
Random bit of trivia: The new home kits for the team feature a small flag of New York City on the lower part of the shirt; the colors of the flag—blue, orange and white—also happen to be those of the team. Both color combos are in homage to the flag of the Dutch, who were the first European settlers of NYC.
Match-day practicalities: Take the B, D or 4 trains to the Yankee Stadium-161st St. station, or Metro-North express trains from Grand Central Terminal to the Yankees-153rd St. station. Ticket prices per game are generally $25–100.