On Thursday, New York City FC (NYCFC) held an event in midtown Manhattan’s Terminal 5 to unveil their inaugural kit for the club’s first MLS season. Before the official business began, the floor crowded with supporters, press, and school children. Banners hung above the area showcasing the pride of New York, New Jersey and the official supporters club.
To kick things off, quite literally, NYCFC employed the services of freestyle champion Frankie “Flo” Gonzalez. With the ball at his feet, he captivated the cheering crowd—helping build the anticipation of the main event.
When his show was over, a few kids from P.S. 111 took to the stage in David Villa NYCFC T-shirts. Their entrance was followed by none other than El Guaje himself, who walked down the green carpet up to the stage in NYCFC’s official home kit, complete with boots. As he made his entrance, fans began throwing streamers and chanting “Villa, Villa, Villa maravilla!” The energy and passion were there, and then came the moment everyone was waiting for.
The audience counted down from 10 to 1. Then, a giant NYCFC shirt, which was hidden in the rafters, descended above the crowd. At first glance, one might mistake it for a Manchester City uniform but that’s to be expected as the Citizens are NYCFC’s proud parent club along with the New York Yankees.
Just when everyone thought they had seen the whole show, everyone was asked to open an envelope and look for a golden ticket —just like in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. Young Damian Delgado stepped forward and with his golden ticket claimed the first ever distributed NYCFC jersey. To put the cherry on top, it was signed by Spain legend and NYCFC’s star forward David Villa.
With the festivities coming to a conclusion, I had the opportunity to speak with Claudio Reyna, Tim Pernetti and David Villa regarding the new club and their ambitions.
I asked Claudio how he went about making the transition from a US soccer icon and former player to Director of Sport. I also asked him about the possibility of utilizing Manchester City youth players and the impact that could have on both NYCFC and MLS as a whole.
“This role is a little bit different,” said the former Manchester City midfielder.
“It’s not just being a Sporting Director because we’re all part of building a club from the beginning. The way I look at it is [that] we’re bringing in better people than me at every position and want to make sure that the environment is very player-centric, ensuring that they have the right environment to succeed, which is something that, as a player, I always asked for. So, for me it’s been a dream to be a part of this and being in the best city in the world is the icing on the cake.
“There’s so much talent at the club [Manchester City] and we’re always in discussions to see how we can integrate that talent. We have to see when’s the right time to bring player(s) over and when other players see that they can play with experienced guys like David Villa and Frank Lampard that it will be a great educational experience, but at the same time we have to make sure that any player we bring in can help us here in MLS.
“It’s a great resource. It’s part of the relationship we have with Manchester City and I’m in close contact with their coaches so eventually and hopefully we’ll have a player come over from Manchester City.
“The league has had partnerships with other clubs before, but this can be something new for MLS and the overall goal is to improve the quality of a league that’s getting better every year.”
I then caught up with NYCFC Chief Business Officer Tim Pernetti to get the inside scoop on when the away and alternate kits will be unveiled in addition to the inspiration behind the kit.
“We don’t have a timeframe yet,” said Pernetti. “We’re still trying to decide on that. But we’ve finalized the shirt and I can assure you it’s spectacular. We’re working with the league to come up with an appropriate time frame to roll it out.
“There’s a lot of opinion and debate when you’re designing a jersey, but the beauty of being part of a global organization and having sister clubs like Manchester City is that we can share resources and ideas. But here in New York, we’re building a club in New York City that’s for New Yorkers and being part of a global group has great advantages.”
Finally, I met David Villa and asked him what he thinks of MLS and why he chose to come play for NYCFC rather than taking his talents to another European club.
“I think MLS is a league that’s growing more attractive and to help grow this project by playing for NYCFC in New York is something new and exciting.”
New York is the perfect place for this club. Judging by what I’ve seen, it’s the culmination of hard work, dedication and, most importantly, passion. The club is tailor-made for the city of New York, its people, and its players.