By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith
Originally, this was going to be a look back at the last three New York City Football Club matches with some crossover between the conviction of soccer fandom and playing mahjongg. Then I made the questionable choice of opening Twitter right before laying out my thoughts. I learned of a change in the NYCFC home grown media family that quickly altered my plans.
Truth be told, the main reason I have a presence on Twitter is to be informed on all things related to soccer. However, on any given day one can drown in the sludge of overall political polarity and the negativity of “calling out” culture that is prevalent amongst keyboard warriors and trolls. It can be overwhelming for anyone with an actual beating heart in their chest.
Soccer to me has always been a mechanism for bringing diverse people together. So many components of the “American Dream” are built into American soccer culture: hard work, creativity, international influences, the lack of time outs and the passion for winning. It’s a bit ironic that it’s easier than ever for people who live in the US to take in soccer in all its multi-cultural glory, and at the same time watch blatant racist and xenophobic statements being initiated by the leader of our country. My younger self would never have predicted these overlapping arcs.
I’ve met some of my closest friends and extended family through my connection with NYCFC. So, please pardon me while I wax sentimental reading about how one person in particular Andrés Emilio Soto, the creator of NYCFC Nation podcast, hung up his microphone and editing equipment upon conclusion of this week’s 200th episode.
I met Andrés last season when he invited me on “The Nation” podcast to talk about my new gig as the NYCFC Reporter for MLSFemale. This was my first podcast. I had a lot of handwritten notes which crinkled loudly into the microphone and I said “um” a lot, which I’m certain created a lot of extra editing work for Andrés. I will never forget how welcoming he, Chris P, and Chris M (the other long time contributing members of NYCFC Nation), made me feel, as we chatted openly about all things NYCFC.
Andrés is a true fan of the sport and NYCFC. He’s volunteered a huge portion of his time over the years through his work on “The Nation”, donated personal money to hosting viewing parties and social events, and raised money for City in the Community. He’s also conveyed to me his support in promoting female soccer fandom. (To clarify: Andrés is not leaving but pursuing other non-podcasting avenues with NYCFC Nation.)
So, this isn’t a recap of the last few NYCFC matches because most of us know that the team lost versus Portland Timbers 1-0 (the first home loss in 2019), lost in a penalty kick shoot out versus Orlando City SC in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and again lost 2-1 versus regional opponent New York Red Bulls. City still have about 4 games in hand with room to move up in the standings and have the second highest points per game number in the Eastern Conference with 1.61.
Writing this piece has been a much needed chance for me to inhale and breathe in the beauty and positivity that is my NYCFC family and MLSFemale family. It’s also my thank you to Andrés and the extended NYCFC Nation podcast squad. I was like the new kid who just transferred schools and you immediately invited me to sit at your table in the cafeteria. I am grateful for the opportunity and support.
I love this sport and welcome all who appreciate the game and the diversity of its fan base. I am excited for the soccer dabblers to taste it and figure out if it’s for them. The door is always open and I’ve got some nice cold beers in the fridge.
Images by Tisha Gale unless otherwise noted.
Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith
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