New York City FC, Orlando enter season on different tracks

New York City FCMLS expansion teams New York City FC and Orlando City SC begin play tomorrow at the Citrus Bowl, but the two teams are heading in completely different directions for coming years.

When New York City FC was unveiled as a 2015 expansion team, it seems like the franchise was headed to instant success. With ownership that includes Manchester City and the New York Yankees, the expectation was that the team would be a contender to land high-level talent and a lock for a new stadium, either in the Bronx or Queens.

But since that debut, things have not gone well for NYC FC. A new stadium site and funding plan has not materialized, with the DiBlasio administration pretty lukewarm on the topic. That’s forced the MLS squad to play at Yankee Stadium with no end date in sight, a plan that probably isn’t sitting too well on the baseball operations site. In addition, the front office was jolted by the departure of Tim Pernetti, the former Rutgers athletic director who ended up being the business face of the franchise. And then there was a different defection of sorts: after announcing Frank Lampard would be joining the team, he bolted and re-signed with Manchester City, staying in the Premier League.

Orlando City SC, on the other hand, will be playing in a renovated Citrus Bowl this season and new downtown stadium next season. The team sold out the Citrus Bowl for the opener and is projection strong sales for the rest of the season. No drama.

Both teams have put effort into fielding strong squads, however, and if NYC FC wins a lot of the offseason drama will be forgotten. Coach Jason Kreis and sporting director Claudio Reyna are credited with putting together a competitive lineup, and the former Real Salt Lake coach — known for coaching winning teams playing on a slim payroll — could be the real MVP this year.

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August Publications