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How You Doin'? New York City FC

Hudson River Blue stops by for a chat prior to Saturday's match in Toronto

Soccer & Baseball in NYC - strange bedfellows indeed
Soccer & Baseball in NYC - strange bedfellows indeed
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing Waking the Red's build in the thirteenth game of the 2015 season, WTR exchanged some questions with Raf Noboa y Rivera of SB Nation's New York City FC site, Hudson River Blue, to shed some light on the opponent from their perspective.

Question the First
Expansion seasons are always tough, Toronto can attest to that, but New York City has the added frustration of watching an expansion cousin, Orlando City, performing much better nearly halfway through the season. With that in mind, what is the sentiment amongst the fan base? Are they still enjoying their first foray into MLS, or are the mounting losses starting to weigh heavily upon the enthusiasm that began the experiment?

They’re definitely enjoying it. Thus far this season, they’re third in MLS in attendance. The hard-core supporters, meanwhile, have become notorious for partying outside of Yankee Stadium after every game, win or lose. Part of this is the sheer novelty of a new team; New York hasn’t had an expansion team in over fifty years.

To the degree that mounting losses frustrate the fans, it’s because a lot of them had really high expectations for how the team would perform in its first season. It’s too early to tell what kind of effect that will have on both the fandom and the team; the fandom, in terms of whether they stick around in numbers if we’re measuring losing in terms of seasons, rather than games. The team, in terms of whether they sacrifice long-term team-building in favor of "winning now".

Question the Second
Playing a soccer match at a baseball diamond is rather odd, MLS has some history with that while Kansas City spent a few years on a very narrow pitch before moving into the fancy Sporting Park. With the next two matches between City and Toronto set to be played at Yankee Stadium and some fans likely planning on making that trip, what is the gameday experience like? And any specific recommendations for a trip to the Big Apple? Should travelling fans bring their own oversized sugary drinks, or has that been sorted out?

I’d say it’s a solid experience. Yankee Stadium is a beautiful stadium, and has tonnes of amenities. As far as New York City is concerned: stay away from Times Square. That’s the Hellmouth. It’s where any hope in the redemptive power of humanity goes to die. Seriously, though — it’s shot-through with tourists. Go to the East Village. Go to Astoria. Go to Union Square, or anywhere else but Times Square. Finally, the soda ban is no longer in effect.

Question the Third
Jason Kreis and Claudio Reyna have some history against TFC - Kreis was held for ransom when TFC made their selections back in 2006 and Reyna received a less-than-kind reception a few weeks before he announced his retirement - prompting one pundit (hi!), to ask some questions about the selection of Dan Lovitz in the 2014 Expansion Draft. How are those two viewed by the supporters in light of the less-than-stellar start, not to mention the Frank Lampard fiasco?

Kreis, being that he’s the most visible management figure, has come in for a lot more criticism than Reyna has. In fact, I’d consider the criticism way out of proportion to where it needs to be placed. Reyna was the first member of the front office to be hired, and as technical director, is the principal architect of this roster. If supporters have any complaints with the players signed, they should be looking at Reyna, not Kreis.

Reyna’s biggest problem, frankly, is that he has no experience building a team roster, let alone an MLS roster. He doesn’t know the league the way a Tim Leiweke or Garth Lagerwey does. So that leads to weird issues like building a team that’s heavy on attacking midfielders but doesn’t have a single holding midfielder, other than the incredibly raw Matthew Dunn.

That said, neither was responsible for the Lampard fiasco. That’s squarely on City Football Group. That sorry, sorry episode brings up a related question: will they do what it takes to build a truly world-class team in New York City? Or is New York City simply a Triple AAA team for Manchester City? The proof won’t be if they sign a Pirlo. It’s if they sign someone for New York City that could realistically contribute for Man City right now.

Barbed Question
Not only did Kreis & Reyna attempt to exact a pound of flesh out of TFC in the Expansion Draft, but there is some concern that New York City are taking a run at some of TFC's long-cherished records of futility as an expansion side. Will those marks fall this season? And how did it feel to slip up against the New York Cosmos in the Open Cup – did it sting a little?

I don’t think that’s come up in the discussion yet. The fact that the team’s won two straight games helped quell discussion of historical futility for right now. As far as the Cosmos go: sure, it stung. But with the Open Cup now done and dusted, the team can now concentrate solely on making the playoffs, which I still think is a reach.

Lineup? Prediction? Goal-scorers?

We’ll go with this — 4-4-2.
Goalkeeper: Saunders
Defenders: RJ Allen, Jason Hernandez, Chris Wingert, Kwame Watson-Siriboe
Midfielders: Tommy McNamara, Sebastian Velasquez, Ned Grabavoy, Matthew Dunn
Forwards: David Villa, Adam Nemec

I think Toronto wins 2-1. Giovinco and Bradley to score for the Reds, Villa for the Blues.

Many thanks to Raf for spending some time with Waking the Red – he can be followed on Twitter @hudsonriverblue – and be sure to check out all the latest New York City news over at Hudson River Blue.

Waking the Red's answers to their questions can be found here.