NYCFC Makes its Case to New York CityThe expansion club will strive not only to be an MLS giant, but eventually one of the world’s elite football clubs
by Nick Chavez | Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Last Friday morning on Jan. 10, I was invited to attend the first official press conference of Jason Kreis as manager of New York City FC. Joining Kreis on the dais at the Grand Hyatt Hotel was NYCFC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna, Manchester City and NYCFC CEO Ferran Soriano and Manchester City Director of Football Txiki Begiristain.
The theme of the day, besides welcoming Kreis, seemed to be that of the new club’s leaders stating their case to New York City and to the North American soccer nation, many of whom have been quite incredulous as to the Manchester City owner’s agenda in establishing the club.
It’s been a popular assumption that NYCFC will be nothing more than a marketing tool in the US and a feeder club to the more established Manchester City. Some of the journalist’s questions echoed this widely-held belief, but the 4 famous football men sitting behind the table seemed adamant about squashing this notion, and setting the world straight.
About the relationship between Manchester City and NYCFC, Soriano explained, “This team (NYCFC) is going to be using the resources of our global network (City Football Group). … They will be using our resources that are world class to develop an authentic New York soccer club.”
As he assured the audience, if anything, it will be NYCFC using what Manchester City has to offer, which we were told are resources that are unrivaled by any club in MLS. It was the first time I personally heard the official title “City Football Group,” which appears to be the name of Manchester City’s ownership’s international football network with its employees, interests and influence spread potentially throughout the world, and most certainly in North and Latin America (where there has been 36 scouts already working to find NYCFC players for several months), and Europe, from what was said at the press conference.
About City Football Group’s attitude towards US Soccer in general, Soriano said, “We have an enthusiasm about US Soccer. We really believe in the development of U.S. Soccer today and in the future.” Considering Soriano’s strong interest in starting an MLS club since at least as far back as 2008, when he was FC Barcelona’s vice president, and all the money he must’ve helped convince Manchester City’s owners to invest in NYCFC, it’s difficult not to take him at his word.
Begiristain, Spain and FC Barcelona legend and former director of football, elaborated on the “City Football Philosophy” and style Kreis will be trying to emulate in his time at the helm of NYCFC saying, “We want to win, but we want to with a very special football style. We want to always have a winning team, but trying always to entertain the people and to play brilliant football.” Kreis will be studying the “pillars” of this philosophy for at least 4 months closely alongside Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini and the youth academy coaches.
Kreis, for his part, seemed calm but you could also sense a latent reservoir of intensity and drive boiling inside of him. He mentioned how his new job was an opportunity he simply couldn’t pass up. He said the position was “an opportunity to lead and be part of something truly great. I’m certain I speak for all of the gentlemen here at the dais (Reyna, Soriano and Begiristain)… when I say this: The opportunity is in front of us and we fully intend on taking it.”
About the much discussed pressure and expectations of taking the New York City job, Kreis assured the press that no outside pressure by anyone is more intense than that which he imposes on himself.
“We know that we’re expected to win,” he said, “and frankly, we will win.”
Kreis’s defiant, cocksure intensity and assurance give one the confidence that he will be more than capable of reining in his future NYCFC players regardless of how big his potential designated player’s egos may be. He seems like the type of coach that will win the respect of any player, and his reputation and resume in Major League Soccer only reinforce that conviction. It’s no wonder that even men with the football resume/heritage of Soriano and Begiristain were very much impressed and won over by this American coach.
Sitting at this historic press conference, I had a couple questions prepared, most of which were eventually asked by other journalists, as I expected they would be, but I had one that I was pretty confident no one would ask, and it’s the question I most wanted these four men to answer. I wanted an honest reaction, to see how far their ambition and vision for the club really went. So, I asked it.
I introduced myself (not to be confused with the other Nick Chavez of Soccer Long Island Magazine that surreally asked a question right before me) and asked, “What do you think about the potential, in the future, of this (New York City FC) being one of the elite clubs in the world?”
NYCFC Sporting Director and former Captain of the United States National team responded:
“Why not? You know it’s New York City, as I just said, it is the greatest city in the world. The league, MLS, is growing at an incredible pace, and as Ferran mentioned, we believe in the future of soccer in this country. Jason and I can speak to that from how it’s developed in every way, on and off the field, on television, the enthusiasm around the game.
“This upward trend should only continue,” he continued. “The excitement and how it’s resonating around the world is clear with the interest from, in my 6 months working from players and representatives and agents and various people wanting to know more, and wanting to bring talented players to the league, it’s very, very exciting.
“Obviously, there are incredible leagues around the world that have long, long traditions and histories that we’re always going to be behind in terms of years and that stuff, but when you really look at the league in the almost 20 years that it’s been around and how it’s grown, it’s tremendous, to have soccer specific stadiums, to have the interest that there is, the players that are playing here that have come here in the past, why not?” Reyna continued. “I think that’s the ambition of the league, it’s our ambition as well. And maybe one day, yes, it will be one of the premier clubs in the world. We definitely don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, because we have a lot work to do, it’s just started, but we’re very excited, all of us, the City Football Group about what New York City FC can become.”
From everything that has been said publically and privately by these men that day, all the money invested (and will be invested) by this ownership group, all the top professionals hired to the front office, sporting and coaching departments of the club, and having the massive City of New York to draw its supporters from, it becomes very difficult to come to the conclusion that New York City won’t be going for it all. Not just in MLS, but eventually competing commercially and on the pitch with the most elite clubs in the world.
Indeed, we are probably a number of years away from that, but as MLS begins to feel confident enough to loosen the purse strings and the academies bear more fruit, the league continues to grow and gain popularity. The arrival of this reality appears increasingly inevitable.