Sporting Kansas City gives NYCFC first loss ever

Sporting Kansas City finally got on the winning side of the scoreboard, they defeated the newly created NYCFC 1-0 to give them their first loss in snowy Yankee Stadium.

Apart from the snow and the cold and the fact that I was feeling really under the weather, it was a great game. Yeah, the game was very slow and methodical and it didn’t look like it was a very entertaining game to most, but there were some pretty exciting moments throughout.

Obviously the goal was the highlight of the night. Sporting KC has historically struggled playing on a skinny field so it wasn’t a good sign before the game. The only advantage and benefit Sporting got as a result of a skinny field was Matt Besler’s throw ins. Sure enough, Besler’s throw in, from the corner, resulted in the first and only goal of the game for Sporting KC. I was lucky enough to capture the goal on video.

Throughout the game, it was very apparent that NYCFC looked lost without David Villa. Villa was sidelined with an injury and it just seemed like they didn’t know what to do until deep into the game. The team fell into the hands of Mix Diskerud and he was dominated by Benny Feilhaber in the midfield. If this is what’s going to be expected from NYCFC when they miss their big name players, it could be a long season when they have to play multiple games per week.

In the second half, NYCFC got things more organized and attacked the Sporting defense. In the last 20 minutes, they had the majority of the chances and just couldn’t equalize. Some of those chances were stopped due to good defense and goalkeeping and others were stopped due to sheer luck and simple mistakes from NYCFC.

As I was at the game, I observed some rather odd things at the game. It was a very strange game to be at in terms of the atmosphere. It wasn’t bad, the NYCFC fans around the Sporting away section weren’t hostile or anything, apart from the typical back and forth banter that happens, it was just overall observations in the stadium as a whole. The upcoming excerpt is from my article on 32 Flags about the game.

The main reason this game was so strange was that many NYCFC fans seemed new to the game and didn’t really know the nuances of the game. To be fair, these will all be corrected over time but they’re things that need to be addressed. Some examples:

– A couple times, many NYCFC fans were confused and were sometimes cheering calls going against them or booing calls going for them. That confused some of the Sporting fans who might have missed the call and went off of what the home crowd was going for.

– For a 90 minute match, NYCFC fans need to create more than one chant. Yes, chanting “NYC” over and over is catchy and simple enough for everyone in the stadium to do but it gets to be repetitive like a children’s song very quickly.

– At one point, a Sporting player shot the ball into the stands in the second half. With NYCFC down 1-0, the fan who caught the ball must’ve been a new fan because he celebrated and tried to keep the ball when in actuality, it ate up a few precious seconds that NYCFC needed to score an equalizer. After the fan realized he needed to send the ball back to the field, he kicked the ball and almost hit GK Josh Saunders as he was about to take the goal kick, wasting more time as they got the other ball off the field.

– About five minutes left in the game, the jumbotron was telling NYCFC fans to get up and make noise because NYCFC was down 1-0 and hardly anyone did anything. I was actually pretty impressed about that because soccer fans don’t really take to the “forced cheering” thing that American sports have grown accustomed to.

The great thing about NYCFC in MLS is that the team has opened up the League to lots of new soccer and MLS fans. This is going to create some struggles at first with people learning to understand the game but that’s what “growing the game” is all about. Obviously the team needs their own stadium because Yankee Stadium isn’t ideal for anyone involved with NYCFC and the New York Yankees and they know that. Hopefully that gets worked out as soon as possible.

It doesn’t matter how you put it, Yankee Stadium was sold out (they normally won’t open the top) for this game and fans didn’t revolt when it was revealed that David Villa wasn’t playing. With David Villa not playing, the game being really cold and snowing and the team struggling to a 1-0 loss, the fact that the vast majority of NYCFC fans stayed until the final whistle is a good sign that they are going to have a strong fan base that is staying for the long haul.

About Phillip Bupp

Managing editor for 32 Flags, Contributor for Awful Announcing, Highlights Editor for MLS and freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them. Be sure to follow @phillipbupp, @32flags as well as @MLSTitleBelt, a project where the title holder must defend the title in every MLS game.