This weekend, New York City FC took the field for the first time as a Major League Soccer club, formally beginning City Football Group's foray into the sport in the United States. The season opening match for NYCFC resulted in a 1-1 draw against fellow expansion club Orlando City. But will the play of players like Mix Diskerud and David Villa help broaden City's appeal in America?
In the summer of 2013, City and Chelsea played a friendly at Yankee Stadium in New York, during which a big deal was made of the soon to be existence of NYCFC. While the fact that a new MLS team may not have been appealing to fans who showed up to see a match between two Premier League teams, this was met with apathy from those in attendance for another reason: the majority of the people there were Chelsea supporters.
Chelsea, of course, have a history that saw success at a time when the Premier League was just starting to experience the boom in popularity it is currently enjoying in America, thanks to an increase in the number of available options fans had to watch the games. As a result, they, along with the other powers of the Premier League, enjoy strong followings in the States.
City, while certainly on the path to sustained success, weren't in a position to be televised internationally as often during those crucial years, and didn't get the necessary exposure to build a similar following. So will bringing the City brand to America help to speed up the process of building the following that other elite European clubs boast?
The linking of both New York and Manchester City by City Football Group and the New York Yankees certainly won't hurt City's fandom in the US. Manchester City's matches are broadcast on tape delay on the YES Network in America, allowing people who may not be able to catch morning or afternoon matches to get a look at the team.
They'll also be back in New York to play a friendly against NYCFC later this year, which will be their first trip to New York in recent years without the accompaniment of another elite European club. While the game will serve as a chance to two of City Football Group's teams go head to head in a fun setting, it'll also serve as a litmus test to see just how well City can draw in the US as the star attraction.
At the end of the day, though, NYCFC won't make a huge difference when hoping to increase the number of Manchester City supporters in America. Only one thing can do that, unfortunately, and that is winning, as we have seen with England's other top clubs. But that brings up a question of quality over quantity as well. After all, do we really want a large group of fans to join our ranks that want to latch onto a top team in the relative infancy of its success, or do we want a smaller group of fans to remain true in blue, so to speak, to the clubs in both New York and Manchester?