Manchester City: Predicting What New York City FC Launch Will Look Like in 2015

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IIMay 30, 2013

To most Premier League fans, Major League Soccer is little more than a punchline for "The Fiver" from The Guardian.

After all, it's fun to tweak the Americans with cutesy jabs like referring to the league as "Major League Soccerball."

Right, because American football is played with helmets on, et cetera.

This longstanding disdain and disregard of all things American by the English football system is only the oldest dragon that Manchester City must slay to make its fledgling New York City FC successful.

The B-side of that record is the still-glacial pace at which Major League Soccer is gaining traction in the United States because Americans still view soccer as a European sport, not an American sport.

Still, if Manchester City wanted to show that its interest in building an MLS team from scratch was sincere, doing so in America's largest city in partnership with the most successful baseball team in world history was a pretty adventuresome way to do so.

Because while you can make it anywhere if you conquer New York, without exception New York will make you earn everything you get. Even if you partner up with the New York Yankees.

Straight away, Manchester City has acknowledged that New York City FC is probably going to have to play their first home matches in ill-suited, borrowed space. Yankee Stadium and Citi Field are the most likely venues to present New York City FC's first season.

Building a stadium anywhere is a significant challenge. Doing so in New York, where undeveloped space is already at an absurd premium, invites noisy pushback from activists and community advocates fearful of progress.

Or, as Yankees president Randy Levine put it, "As we embark for a new stadium here, all of us know that the usual suspects will be out there again."

If history has shown anything, though, it is the ability of stacks of cash to make political obstacles dissipate and recede.

Manchester City has its eyes set on approximately 10 acres of land in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. That spot holds the dual advantages of pre-existing high usage by local residents and proximity to public transportation.

It may take awhile, but expect New York City FC to break ground on a new stadium there in 2014 if not sooner.

One thing is nearly certain: New York City FC is not going to end up playing in New Jersey in a stadium they cannot fill.

While the housing situation is being resolved, Manchester City is tasked with finding a manager and fielding a team.

Underscoring City's goal of having real ties between the EPL club and its MLS protege, City named Claudio Reyna as its first employee and made him New York City FC's general manager.

Reyna is known on both sides of the Atlantic. He is a former captain of the U.S. men's national team. He played for Manchester City in the Premier League and for the New York Red Bulls in MLS.

A more natural candidate for this position would be difficult to find, particularly considering Reyna's ease in front of cameras and audio recorders.

Reyna has already mastered the proper use of the general manager's best friend: the vague description of future plans.

Asked by USA Today what New York City FC would look for in a manager, Reyna was coy: "There is a coaching change happening at Manchester City right now so we have to wait because we want to have a common philosophy for both clubs."

So Roberto Mancini is probably out, but everyone else has a shot.

"As for the type of team Reyna hopes to put on the pitch, he again spoke cautiously:  I want American players...we'll be looking at Latin America...the rest of the world, Europe, Africa and Asia."

Australia could not be reached for comment.

Quips aside, this endeavor by Manchester City promises to create plentiful headlines for months on end leading up to the club's first match.

Presumably, Sheikh Mansour and Txiki Begiristain would have it no other way.


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