Tag Archives: New York City FC

NYCFC find their groove against the Galaxy, winning 2-0

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City Football Club continued to show its developing form in its unexpected win over LA Galaxy.  With a return of anchor defender James Sands from injury, the team looked calm and settled.  One slight change to the lineup was the swapping out of the injured Ebenezer Ofori, out with a core injury, for Tony Rocha in a center midfield role.  NYCFC faced a Galaxy who were without Jonathan Dos Santos, Rolf Feltscher, Romain Alessandrini and showed some struggle to gather attacking chances particularly without Dos Santos.

The Boys in Blue excelled in their passing accuracy in the attacking half and the final third and this kept them steady and in control of much of the game.  New York City did an excellent job of defending but the clear and obvious strategy by LA of always trying to serve the ball up to Zlatan Ibrahimovich made the Galaxy seem predictable and easier to defend.  Where LA did a good job of accurately crossing the ball, the NYC defenders knew how to position themselves in order to quickly destroy the play.  Alex Callens was particularly efficient at slowing down or destroying LA’s attempts to propel their attack.

New York’s first goal was scored by Héber on a rebound of an Anton Tinnerholm shot.  Héber has clearly settled into his #9 role, making a go of any loose balls in the box.  He has scored 3 goals and had 3 assists in the 7 games he’s played since he joined the team.  Not only does Heber do his job well, he looks like he’s enjoying himself the whole time.  

The second goal was scored on a play in LA’s box that was first called as an offside on City but ended up as a handball call on LA via VAR.  Incredulously, Maxi Moralez stepped up to take the penalty kick, leaving most fans screaming at their screens “No!  Anyone but Maxi!” as Moralez’s last two attempts at PKs this season were failures.  

Moralez ended up burying this ball in the back of the net.  For the record, Héber should take these PKs but perhaps out of respect and seniority he deferred to Moralez.

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NYCFC has successfully and repeatedly made good use of the wingback role, with particular ease when the roles are executed by Tinnerholm and Ronald Matarrita. The match did end on a strange note with a seemingly frustrated Ibrahimovich and NYCFC’s goalkeeper Sean Johnson in a tangle of alleged body bumps and hands to the neck resulting in both players being booked on yellow cards.

It’s still early in the season but NYCFC have now moved up to 4th place in the Eastern Conference behind Philadelphia, DC and Montréal with their next call to arms on 5/25 in another away match versus Chicago Fire.

All images:  NYCFC twitter

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James Sands is a honey badger*

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City Football Club managed to pull out 7 points in 7 days with glimmers of hope for even better play going forward.  To recap, NYCFC played 3 games in a 7 day stretch pulling out a road victory against DC United 2-0, a home victory 1-0 versus Chicago Fire and drawing with Orlando City SC 1-1 most recently.

Not surprisingly, the team’s best performance and the seemingly unlikely road win against a strong DC United, was a result of Coach Dome Torrent playing new Brazilian striker Héber, alongside Alexandru Mitrita and Maxi Moralez.  The threesome demonstrated some early signs of offensive chemistry.

Unfortunately, Mitrita suffered an ankle injury in that match resulting in him not playing against Chicago Fire and playing limited minutes off the bench versus Orlando SC.  The magical recipe for strong attack combines these three players with a dash of Taty Castellanos and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi.

Héber of NYCFC
Héber of NYCFC warms up

The other big takeaway from the week:  James Sands is basically a human honey badger on the field and you know what they say about honey badgers?

Sands, the club’s first homegrown who began starting in a defensive role this season has been the bane of many a seasoned opposing player’s existence.  He’s been on NYCFC’s roster for the past three years with limited play time but he has been a constant defensive force this season.  

Has the team struggled to score goals this year?  Yes, but the team has only lost one match to date.

Over the past three games, Sands took Wayne Rooney out of most of DC United’s attacking chances in the mid field and almost completely neutralized CJ Sapong on Chicago Fire.  He gave Nani and Dom Dwyer of OCSC zero space to maneuver. Sands does not defer and even slightly back off very seasoned and sometimes legendary opponents and seems fully committed to sacrificing his body in the process of stopping a play when necessary.  

His ability to think ahead and predict the play seems way beyond his 18 years.  He deserves a lot of credit for his consistent, physical, intelligent and lack-of-drama style of play.

James Sands
James Sands

*Update:  Sands has not been in training due to a pulled abductor muscle which happened in the match against Orlando City.  So he will, most likely, miss the next match against Montréal Impact on Saturday.   So alas, he is an injured honey badger.  

NYCFC will make their first attempt to win a match without Sands.  I’m a bit nervous.

Featured and all images: Tisha Gale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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NYCFC Earns An Unexpected W In DC, 2-0

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

This week once again proved that anything is possible in MLS as Sporting Kansas City lost to San Jose and LAFC lost to Vancouver.  Continuing in this parallel universe of football, New York City Football Club bested the current top team in the Eastern Conference, DC United.  The win was in DC and with Wayne Rooney fully fit.  Many would never have predicted this outcome but it could be due to the learned helplessness taking over the collective NYC fan psyche. I mean the thinking was, If City can’t even win at home, how will they win on the road?

How did NYCFC pull off this modern day Easter miracle? Many signs point to the debut of City’s new number 9, Héber, who made his first start of the season.  Immediately there were signs of chemistry amongst him, new 2019 Designated Player Alexandru Mitrita and the team’s midfield backbone, Maxi Moralez.  In a post-match interview Héber compared the style of NYCFC and MLS in general as “tactical” football with more experienced players, while the Croatian league he previously played for was “faster” with younger players.  

I read into this as MLS being a more thoughtful and building style of play that stresses keeping possession while patiently moving players around to find the open space.  Furthermore, his experience playing with a faster pace means he’s accustomed to opponents being all over him so he can make quick and accurate attacking decisions with limited space.  This was fully demonstrated first in his assist to Alexandru Mitrita’s goal in the 35th minute and again in his own finish in the 56th.

It felt like NYCFC had the majority of the possession even though they only had 46%.  Maxi Moralez had the chance to make the game 2-0 before the end of the first half on an awarded penalty kick, but his strike hit the post.  It is doubtful that the tide of opinion will change any time soon on Coach Dome Torrent, but I do think that the decision to play Ronald Matarrita at left back was the right one as he generates offense out of the back with his pace, energy and overall chemistry with the midfield.  

Anton Tinnerholm and Matarrita both enjoy generating and building attacking sequences down the flanks via overlapping runs.  James Sands was again Mr Reliable throughout the game applying pressure and stopping most of DC United’s attempts at a counter attack.  It was a happy surprise that goalkeeper Sean Johnson had little to do in this match.  Although he did have one particularly nice save of a Rooney shot to keep the lead.

Ronald Matarrita
Ronald Matarrita goes wide – credit: K. Cahalin, NYCFC

A busy week continues with a must-win versus Chicago Fire on Wednesday and a tough test versus a surprisingly in-form Orlando City team on Saturday.  Rumors of injuries to several key players make this period even more challenging.

Featured image: @NYCFC on Twitter

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NYCFC keeps winless streak alive, tying Montreal 0-0

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

“A tough battle in the Bronx ends in a stalemate” is what I should write about this week’s NYCFC loss -strike that – TIE with Montreal Impact.  Yet this should not have been a tough game, particularly with the Impact missing the injured Ignacio Piatti.  This should have been a relatively easy home match for New York City. 

From where I sat, the game can be summed up as: “Taty Castellanos was trying hard in front of the goal but getting few balls, while Héber isn’t yet fully fit but was basically invisible when he was subbed in.  City should have made something of the 20 minutes when they were up a man and, without Maxi Moralez, the team is a rudderless ship.”

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NYCFC’s Valentin “Taty” Castellanos

It’s interesting how as New Yorkers, we expect the best:  in food, entertainment, lodging, museums, shopping. And yet, we seem to historically accept mediocrity from our local sports teams.  New York City Football Club is still winless in 2019 over 4 games with three of them at home.   The team is actually winless over the past 7 games if you go back to 2018 playoffs. The last win for New York was October 28, 2018, against the Philadelphia Union. Some fans are outspoken in their frustration and others are exhibiting signs of learned helplessness.

So for all of you sad, angry and exasperated NYCFC fans out there, here are some other historically awful winless streaks by New York metro area teams:

New York Knicks – 2018-2019 – 18 game losing streak

New York Nets – 2009-2010 – 18 losses in a row

New York Mets 1962 – 17 game losing streak

New York Islanders – 2010-2011 –  14 losses in a row

New York Giants 1976 – 9 game losing streak

Even our winningest New York team, the Yankees, lost 12 in a row in 1908.  And the New York Jets in 2014 (and 1975 & 1996) lost 8 in a row and still don’t have their own stadium!

Feel better now?  

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The still winless NYCFC squad

NYCFC next heads out to the brand-spanking-new Allianz stadium in St. Paul to face Minnesota United Football Club in their very first match in their new home.  Most fans have zero expectations except for a loss as the team just can’t seem to win on the road.  However, MNUFC was once also a team new to the league playing pretty terribly as recently as last year, also in someone else’s stadium and look at them now.  It’s early in the season, but Minnesota is currently in a playoff contention spot, has one of the league’s most attractive stadiums with interactive lights and a deeply devoted fan base.

If New York City FC could get one of these things, it would be a step in the right direction.

All images by Tisha Gale // @tishagale15 on Instagram

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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A Mixed Bag: NYCFC draws LAFC 2-2

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City Football Club hosted Los Angeles Football Club for a St Patrick’s day party in the Bronx on Sunday.  This year with no resident “Saint Patrick” Vieira to sprinkle the team with luck, City ended up adding another game to its winless streak.  The match had some highs and lows, with most intensity, pace, accuracy and attacking precision shown in the first half, but frustratingly, it did end as another draw.  

NYCFC built some tight sequences in the midfield which created multiple opportunities. City maintained nearly 70% of the first half possession but the defensive mistakes cost them big.  

New Designated Player Alexandru Mitrita scored his first goal of the season at 39′, but four minutes later LAFC’s Latif Blessing easily jumped on an NYC mistake and fed a perfect pass to Vela, who buried the ball into the goal.  NY once again took the lead in the second half when Ben Sweat found Alex Ring in front of the goal at 62′ and set him up for a hammer of a volley.  Both of New York’s goals being scored from the left side of the goal.  

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NYCFC’s Alexandru Mitrita maneuvers around LAFC’s Walker Zimmerman and Latif Blessing.

Exciting for many fans was that Ronald Matarrita started the game at left back.  Matarrita’s energy, pace and attacking mindset was definitely a welcome addition to the team chemistry.  There was much more pep in the step of the team from the get-go of the game.  The energy in the stadium, particularly between the dueling supporter groups seemed to have been fueling City’s players.  

Fortunately for NYCFC, LAFC was not playing with their full squad as Lee Nguyen, Alejandro Guido, Steven Betashour, Phillip Ejimadu and Rodolfo Zelaya were on the injured list. 

Latif Blessing, who is known as the ultimate super sub who can play vitally any position and generally revitalizes the team when he comes off the bench, started and played the full game.  It was Blessing who found Vela to kick off LA’s first fruitful counterattack to tie up the game in the first half.  It was Blessing who was fouled by Sweat in the box to earn LA a game-tying PK.   So although Sweat did assist Ring in NY’s second goal, he was a mixed blessing.  

In honor of our respective cities and their awards show history,  I’m handing out awards:

For playing cool, calm and collected, and yet not cocky, I bestow my first official Triple C award to James Sands.  The teenager once again showed depth, maturity and grit. 

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NYCFC’s Anton Tinnerholm chases LAFC’s Carlos Vela

Because he’s just that good and gives off the vibe that he’s having a blast on the pitch, the honorary Marcelo award goes to Carlos Vela

Best visiting supporters group energy, enthusiasm and etiquette goes to LAFC’s 3252 who not only were the loudest we’ve ever had, particularly from across the continent but they also followed up with a thank you post on NYCFC’s reddit account for the great time.  See, there’s the silver lining to a draw.  Nobody’s angry.  

The Sleek Award goes to the LAFC’s silver and white kit. What a perfectly appropriate away kit that is flattering, simple and makes good use of metallics.

NYCFC’s next match is Friday 3/29 in Toronto.

To date, NYCFC is 0-0-3.

Featured and all images: @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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Dueling goalkeepers keep NYCFC and DC United to 0-0 draw

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City Football Club opened its 2019 season at home against DC United on Sunday March 10th. What the match lacked in scoring, it made up for in goalkeeping theatrics. Both NYCFC’s keeper, Sean Johnson, and DC United’s, Bill Hamid, kept the game a nail biter with their superb performances.

DC United’s high and heavy press gave NYCFC’s back line a hard time from literally the first minute of play. Once NYC adjusted to the pressure, the midfield and wings started to put together attacking sequences.  The underlying theme of the offense was “Find Alexandru Mitrita” with one NYC counter attack sending “Mitri” into three DC defenders and almost beating them, before DC’s Wayne Rooney and his elbow destroyed the play.

For this match, Coach Dome Torrent tried a different formation with Taty Castellanos in a striker role and Maxi Moralez back to more of a 10 role.  Once again, James Sands started in central midfield alongside Captain Alex Ring. This season, Ring seems to be playing a lot more offensively and has been given free reign to shoot both inside and outside the box.  On Sunday he had two strong shots with one diving header denied by an incredible save by Hamid.  These are shots that would not have been taken in years past.

Johnson was credited with 3 saves on DC United’s on-target shots.  Officially, they had 7 total shots.  Hamid made 6 saves while City totaled 21 shots, with most of them off target. Most of the on-target shots were incredible efforts by both the attacker and the keeper.  If only there was a way to put a little gold star next to the particularly impressive saves by the keeper.

My takeways:

Taty Castellanos gave a strong performance.  He had multiple shots on target (most of them headers) was where he was supposed to be in attacking sequences and generally appeared to work in rhythm with Mitrita.  Does anyone remember the first two seasons when a ball would cross in front of the opponent’s goal and nobody was there to meet it?  That doesn’t happen with Taty.  If given time to germinate, the chemistry between Castellanos, Mitrita and Maxi can only improve.

James Sands played well and helped lead NYCFC’s efforts to control the middle third of the field.  He seemed to be everywhere adding pressure and then accurately redistributing to kick off our offense. Part of the reason Ring is free to push forward and attack is because Sands is handling the defensive role so reliably.

DC United's Wayne Rooney and NYCFC's James Sands
DC United’s Rooney, NYCFC’s Sands

The combination of Ring and Mitri could become very deadly.  Ring finds Mitri with long penetrating passes and Mitri seems equally comfortable taking shots from  outside the box and maneuvering around multiple defenders into the box.  Pair this with Ring’s willingness and ability to shoot from a distance, and opposing defenders will have a hard time dealing with City’s unpredictability.   

What’s going on with Ismael Tajouri-Shradi?  Last season he stepped up big as the second highest goal scorer on the team during a period when we were without the injured David Villa. I was happy to see him come in as a sub for Jesus Medina after not playing at all in Orlando, but he seemed to have lost his spark for firing off shots on goal.  Is he trying to settle into some new role?  I liked his old one.  You know, scoring goals.

NYCFC is back in the Bronx on Sunday, March 17th against LAFC.

Featured image: @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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Is NYCFC withering on CFG’s vine?

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

With the distractions of the holiday season behind us and the gloom of winter in full force, MLS soccer fans everywhere are patiently awaiting the start of the new season.

For New York City Football Club fans, things are looking a bit bleaker than usual as the club continues to ignore some of their biggest concerns.  Fan sentiment is currently at a low with team supporters feeling abandoned by owners City Football Group.  It’s bad enough to have the one elephant in the room:  Um, are we just never going to have a stadium? 

But with the second one being now zero prospects for an exciting Designated Player replacement for David Villa, there is a general feeling that NYCFC is being left to wither on the vine.  The New York front office’s last connection with fans seems to have exited with outgoing president Jon Patricof. 

As frustrating as it was in year’s past to understand the front office’s decisions, Patricof was extremely accessible to fans and their concerns.  Clearly bound by CFG’s confidentiality policy, he couldn’t give many answers but was more than happy to talk to season ticket holders and fans.  Patricof understood and cared about the connections that each of us makes with the team and to each other through the club.

Now that Brad Sims is at the helm it is clear that, at least on paper, the focus of the front office is to stop the season ticket holder bleeding and attempt to bring in new fans.  I’m at a loss for how Sims will do this when the top three things that fans want are currently beyond our reach:

1- A stadium in New York City

2- An exciting new player who will help score goals 

3- To win a trophy of some kind

CFG clearly does not know the New York real estate, political nor sports markets.   New Yorkers will only accept mediocrity on our own terms.  Don’t come from out of town and hand us a ‘meh’ bagel and expect us to eat it more than once.  

We exist in a sports market with many options locally and live in an era when we can stream almost any sports game in the world, at any time on our phones.  If CFG and MLS want to grow their profits and the sport in the US in the process, (which will feed the cycle of profitability), they will have to work harder to make NYCFC fans more excited. 

The digital media team under the direction of Mark Booth has done an excellent job at giving us fun and timely content while maintaining accessibility.  The club should be using this offseason to hold multiple STH roundtables and brainstorming sessions with Brad Sims or his senior management staff. Connect directly with all different types of fans and hear them out. Fans need more of this, particularly during this morose period when many are feeling hopeless. 

Soccer fans in the US, for the most part, are a piece of a larger group of Americans who are feeling generally hopeless and exhausted by the national discourse.  We look to soccer as our inspiration, escape and a way to connect with others.  If you want to keep NYCFC fans engaged in our own team and league, the front office needs to step it up in a big way.  

Featured image: @TishaGale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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My Christmas Wish this year: David Villa stays at NYCFC

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

We’ve all seen the click-bait headline posted on MLS.com which basically is paraphrasing quotes from Spanish publication Sport.

This “news” and another article posted by NBC.com, utilizing a different publication out of Spain, again with no source, came out this week as fans wait to hear if New York City FC will negotiate a new contract with striker David Villa.

Villa was brought in as the club’s first signing in 2014 and his contract was $5.6 million per year for 3 years.   It was then extended in 2017 by one year, taking him through the 2018 season. Fans seem to fall into two camps since he missed 11 games, about one-third of the season, due to a knee injury: bring him back as a Designated Player or pay for him with TAM dollars in order to free up that DP slot.

Age seemed to, unfortunately, become a factor even to the seemingly eternally young “El Guaje”, who will be 37 in December.  To those watching his play closely towards the end of the season, there were through balls that he just didn’t get to which he would have taken in stride in years past. With each unsuccessful one-on-one duel with defenders,  the question was, “Is it age or injury?” all the while knowing he should have won the battle.

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And then there were the end of season appearances with fans.  According to Tisha Gale, official photographer for MLSFemale and member of Third Rail supporter group, who attended and presented at the NYCFC awards on October 22nd, said unlike almost all previous public appearances, Villa was one of the last to leave the event.  “It was as if he was consciously trying to cherish every last moment with the fans.”

Likewise, many fans treated the last home game on November 4th as the last chance to see the captain play at home. The last two losses were particularly hard for the fans as they were aware that those games might have been Villa’s final outings for NYCFC.

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Tisha Gale and David Villa at awards

To be clear, New York City FC striker and captain David Villa has not made any public statements as to his future with the club.  Villa is the foundation of the club and is a major component of fandom.  Not only did he start with the club from the beginning but he also embraced the core of NYCFC identity from Day 1:  Being a New Yorker.

He embraced New York and all of its cultural gifts and the city embraced him back in the way that most of us do:  We leave you alone to live your personal life with as much privacy and normalcy as possible and celebrate or criticize you when you are on-the-clock.   Villa not only cherished the city culture but wholeheartedly gave his all to help the team win games – a true competitor who expects excellence.

These are all characteristics of someone who we would want staying within our club system in some capacity going forward.

I would expect that City Football Group would go to any lengths to explore all options with Villa to keep him playing with our club, perhaps outside of a DP capacity. The truth is we don’t yet know what David Villa will decide to do.  I do know that he is revered by fans all over the world as a hero, magician and veteran.  Why would NYCFC not try their hardest to hold onto Villa’s brilliant skills, experience, poise and high standards?

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Dear NYCFC Front Office,

This is my Christmas wish:  Find a way to hold onto Villa before he is gone from the field, and from a future developing and building the club further. His past and future influences are not to be diminished.

Love,

Keira

Images by Tisha Gale

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David Villa’s 400th Goal Celebration

Featured image: @TishaGale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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“For Honor. For Glory. For the City.” A photo essay recap of my 2018 Season as an NYCFC fan.

Tisha Gale - NYCFC photographer/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Photographer

By Tisha Gale // @TishaGale

The 2018 season has officially ended for our boys in blue, and though we are all sad and somewhat disappointed that the season has ended, I think we have a lot to look back on and a bright future ahead. Please journey with me as I highlight some of my favorite moments of the 2018 season.

Best of 2018

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For me, the season begins on a cold, rainy day in February. The anticipation of NYCFC’s first home game has been building; I’m bursting at the seams, literally. The new kit has arrived in style, from the Adidas HQ in Germany to the Etihad HQ in Abu Dhabi, and finally to NYCFC’s home in the Bronx, NY.

The jersey has traveled a long way to get to the players who will put their blood, sweat, and tears into every fiber, and the fans who will proudly rock it every chance they get. We’re not all sure how we feel about the new design. Some fans argue that it’s a carbon copy of a couple of popular international kits, but one thing is for sure, we all want it!

However, amid the buzzing chatter comes a different conversation—a murmur that quickly gets my attention. Why are there no women supporters in the “Kit Release Video?” 

This simple, yet important question leads to the creation of the “We Are NYCFC: Women Supporter’s Photo Project.” The project highlights the women behind the crest; the women who help make up the heart and soul of NYCFC’s fan base. A group of 20 women, many of them strangers, meets with me at Grand Central Terminal. The main topic of conversation, representation matters. The video and corresponding images are shared on multiple social media platforms with the hashtag #WeAreNYCFC.

February 24, my phone chimes. It’s an Instagram notification from Jon Patricof, President of NYCFC: “Thought your project was terrific and important…hope to connect soon.” A few days later, I get a call from Sam Cooke. He’d like to discuss the project.

March, 9. NYCFC host its first ever 24 Hour Game at Rockefeller Center. I proudly represent Team Vieira. #SoccerNeverSleeps

soccer never sleeps

March 15, Keira Smith (Official Reporter for NYCFC at MLSFemale) and I meet with Patricof at NYCFC HQ, it’s my first trip to the 30th floor of 600 Third Ave. I feel like I’ve been called to the principal’s office. However, the meeting is everything but intimidating. We discuss the project and my motivations. Patricof thanks us for the constructive criticism and apologizes for the lack of proper women supporter representation in the video.

NYCFC’s season officially starts on March 4, with an on-the-road win versus Sporting Kansas City. The boys in blue go on to win four of their first five games. The season is off to a great start. Regular trips to Yankee Stadium means my seasonal depression has faded away like the mosaic of colors after a fireworks show.

NYCFC supporter, Deyanira Perez, enjoying a game at Yankee Stadium on March 17

March 31, Keira Smith publishes an article about the We Are NYCFC project and me on MLSFemale.com

#WeAreNYCFC. I’ve Got All My Sisters With Me 

April 29, my photo press credentials application is approved and I shoot my first game from the endlines. David Villa bags his 400th and 401st career goals. NYCFC defeats F.C. Dallas 3-1.

May 16, MLSFemale brings me on board as their official photographer covering NYCFC.

Image: Juan Carlos Rubiano

May 19, NYCFC celebrates David Villa Day on a rainy day in the Bronx with a 4-0 win over the Colorado Rapids. Villa Scores in the 22′ and 74′ min of play. Other goals scored by R. Matarrita 49′ and M. Moralez 56′.

June 13, Keira and I encourage fans to vote Sean Johnson onto the MLS All-Star team. Our blurb is published on nycfc.com.

All-Star: Vote for Sean Johnson

July 5, NYCFC hosts a Q&A with new head coach, Domenec Torrent.

June 30-July 15, NYCFC partners with Telemundo. Together they host a World Cup viewing party at Rockefeller Center.

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August 1, my photo press credentials are approved and I attend the MLS All-Star game in Atlanta. Read all about my experience here.

MLS Digital HQ. L-R: Lalo Ortega, me, Alexis Guerreros, Robyn Saghini, Christian Polanco Jess Houwen, and Eve Powell.

August 21, September 4 & 21 respectively, my #NYCFCInk mini-series is published on MLSFemale.com

#NYCFCInk Featuring Lalo Ortega

Lalo Ortega, Tisha Gale - NYCFC/mlsfemale

#NYCFCInk Featuring Colin Harte

Tisha Gale - NYCFC Ink/mlsfemale

#NYCFCInk Featuring Jay Jimenez

Tisha Gale - NYCFC/mlsfemale

September 24, I attend my first away game in Canada.

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October 11, Nat Bekeo gives me a tour of NYCFC’s training facility in Orangeburg, NY.

Every second counts🤙🏾 💙 #nycfc

October 15, NYCFC opens 10 new mini pitches across the five boroughs. I’m hired to cover all the action on Staten Island at IS72.

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October 23, NYCFC host its first ever Awards Night. I present the first award to James Sands, who won Academy Moment of the Year. 

Kwame Ibeagha

October 31, NYCFC advances to the MLS Cup Semifinals after a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union.

November 4, our last game at Yankee Stadium, until next year.

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My 2018 season as an NYCFC fan was absolutely amazing! I’d like to thank MLSFemale, NYCFC players and FO staff, and all my friends who supported me on this incredible journey. You are all so deeply appreciated.

Of note: I picked up my first DSLR camera on December 15, 2017. Photography has always been something I wanted to explore, and I’m so glad I finally took the plunge. I could not have asked for a better way to harness my skills.

All images, unless specified: @TishaGale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @TishaGale

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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NYCFC looks ahead to face Atlanta United in MLS Eastern Conference Semifinals

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

It’s deja-vu all over again as New York City Football Club tops Philadelphia Union 3-1 for the second time in a week, this time in the MLS Playoff Knockout Round.

From the beginning, NYCFC dominated the Union, sticking to their high possession strategy which was lighter and more precise with the return of midfielder Yangel Herrera. Herrera’s ability to anticipate opponents’ next moves and superb skills in transitioning between defense and offense allowed David Villa, Maxi Moralez and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi to work smoothly together.

All three goals were scored on attacks down the middle with three different types of finishing touches by Tajouri-Shradi, Villa and Moralez. Additionally, a late substitution of Valentin (Taty) Castellanos for Villa was strategically very important in maintaining the win as Castellanos drew two, sometimes three defenders which freed up Moralez to maneuver and keep NYC in possession of the ball.

This was a huge win and a morale lifter for NYCFC and its fans as we look ahead to face Atlanta United in the MLS Eastern Conference semi-finals.  New York City has been gaining momentum and confidence after a dismal two months and Atlanta is showing some cracks in its previously impenetrable foundation. Atlanta is now in a situation familiar to NYCFC with its coach Tata Martino rumored to be leaving the club for “greener” pastures, as well as, player personal conduct and team chemistry distractions.

In the past two years, the two teams have been evenly matched with each team credited one win, one loss and two draws. New York City is back to full strength with a clean bill of health and will face an Atlanta squad who will be close to full strength, especially if midfielder Miguel Almirón returns to match play.  (Almirón returned to training this week.)

I predict Atlanta will utilize a 4-4-2 formation with Brad Guzan, a returning from injury Greg Garza, Leandro González-Pirez, Michael Parkhurst and Franco Escobar as defenders, center defending midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, center attacking midfielder  Almirón, Ezequiel Barco and Darlington Nagbe on the wings and both Hector Villalba and Josef Martinez up top.

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Ismael Tajouri-Shradi celebrates his goal. Image: Tisha Gale

For New York City, I see coach Dome Torrent sticking with a similar lineup and formation as the last two matches with the exception of perhaps starting Jesús Medina at left midfield over Ronald Matarrita as Medina’s style of play may be a better matchup against Atlanta’s tactics.  The past two matchups utilized a 4-2-3-1 with Sean Johnson, Ben Sweat, Alexander Callens, Maxime Chanot, Anton Tinnerholm, Herrera, Alex Ring, Medina, Moralez, Tajouri-Shradi and Villa.

Make no mistake about it, this will be an extremely tough match for City, especially after Atlanta’s recent embarrassing loss to Toronto FC which cost them the Supporter’s Shield.  They will be out to prove to everyone that the recent loss was a fluke.  However, I have no doubt that our Boys in Blue are in fine form and are capable of taking a big decisive win and sowing more seeds of doubt for Atlanta.

Images by Tisha Gale

Featured image: @TishaGale

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