A Toast to NYCFC: MLS Cup Champions
By Jack Blanchard
New York City FC players, coaches, staff, and fans have done plenty of celebrating since the club lifted its first ever MLS Cup on Saturday. From the field at Providence Park, to an after party with fans, through to a City Hall homecoming on Tuesday, there has been no shortage of good times for anyone associated with the club.
Still, soccer is always moving. There have already been roster announcements made, expansion draft lists and losses, and believe it or not, NYCFC will play their first Champions League match in just 2 months.
There is plenty of time to digest roster moves and potential signings, but this is still a time to be honoring the greatest accomplishment in club history. With that being said, a great celebration deserves a toast. Here it goes: a toast to NYCFC, your 2021 MLS Cup Champions.
To Sean Johnson, who led the team to glory in his first year as NYCFC captain. Sean made a pivotal save in every playoff game, including 2 penalty saves in the final. Already, undeniably a club legend that deserves to be on the plane to Qatar for World Cup 2022.
To Taty Castellanos, golden boot winner. May you never stop pressing, winning headers, and scoring massive goals. You should probably stick around next season to help lift a Champions League trophy too.
To Maxi Moralez, who at 34 ran 15 kilometers in a single match, scored both of his penalty kicks, and has been the vital force that this club plays through since the moment he arrived. One more year(at least).
To Maxime Chanot and Alexander Callens. Your defensive partnership has grown by day since 2017, and neither put hardly a foot wrong throughout the playoffs. Alex Callens may have to be next season’s full time penalty kick taker.
To Ronny Deila, who showed us exactly what it meant to be a part of this club with his tears at full time, and showed us even more during his celebration at Providence Park. You instilled a mentality and killer instinct that the club had always lacked until now.
To Tayvon Gray, who barely played throughout the year until forced into the squad through injury. His tireless running on the right side has me thinking we may have one of the league’s best right backs for years to come.
To James Sands: BING BONG. He deserves more time with the national team, and I only can hope that we get to enjoy him locking down the middle of the field for many seasons to come in New York.
To Gudi and Malte, who rotated seemlessly together at left back. When one was down, the other picked it up. New York City doesn’t win a title without Gudi’s performances off of the bench at left back.
To Heber, the heart and soul of the locker room. While you didn’t score this season, it was great to see you back out on the pitch after a terrible ACL injury. More goals are for sure to come next season.
To Santi Rodriguez, Talles Magno, and Thiago. Three dynamic, exciting, and promising attackers that have already made their mark this season and will only make this attack even better as they continue to adapt and progress. No matter who may depart this offseason, with these three players the future is bright.
To Keaton Parks and Anton Tinnerholm, two of our most important regular season players. With those 2, we may not have had to wait for penalty kicks against New England and Portland to advance. May you come back healthy next season and be a part of the repeat.
To Jesus Medina and Ismael-Tajouri Shradi, we will miss both of you on the right wing. Medina’s defensive work and positioning were vital throughout the playoffs, and Isi has one of the best left feet in the league and made the difference in Philadelphia. You both have served the club well.
To Alfredo Morales, who I drastically underestimated. When injuries struck the center of midfield, Alfredo came in and did not put a foot wrong for the last 2 months, at least until his missed penalty in Portland. Still, no one will remember that, and only the strong performances filling in for Cacha and Keaton.
To the rest of the squad, who may have played less in the final stretch of the season, but looked right at home on stage at City Hall and in Portland. We will need you next season for the Champions League, which is where this club belongs.
To the rest of the coaching staff, who adjusted tactics and made this club better than ever in set pieces. It’s no surprise to anyone that NYCFC scored their lone goal in Portland from a set piece. There are future managers at this level behind Ronny Deila on the NYCFC staff.
To the front office, who we all have complained about in the past. Fans were treated in a fantastic way throughout this playoff run, with $10 away tickets and plenty of ways to support the team. You have assembled a terrific squad, and have helped to develop a wonderful community of supporters. Can’t wait for us to meet at our own stadium someday.
To club staff, you have put on great events, given us outstanding content, videos, and pictures to consume, and are the backbone of everything that NYCFC does.
Finally, to the fans. We have been called many things, have heard our club ridiculed by other supporters groups, and have gone through a lot of heartbreaking moments over just a 7 year history of our club. This playoff run was special, but the community we have built is what is truly what makes this club something we all care so deeply for. Enjoy being called Champions, and I hope to see you when we raise the banner.