January 24th. That's when New York City FC will come together for the very first time as a team. It also kicks off a hectic spate of travel.
According to a press release this morning, New York City will train at Patton Park in Jacksonville, Fla., from January 24th to February 2nd. They will then travel to Manchester, where they will spend ten days training at City Football Academy alongside their sister club, Manchester City. During that time, they will play two exhibition games at the 7,000-person capacity Academy Stadium, on February 10th and February 15th.
Presumably, that's when Designated Player Frank Lampard will join his team -- fresh from a successful loan stint with Manchester City, and bidding farewell to his fans at Chelsea on January 31st. The opponents for those two exhibition games have not been announced yet.
From that ten-day training sojourn in northwest England, New York City will travel back to the United States and play in the Carolina Challenge Cup at the end of February, before beginning their inaugural MLS season in March.
Head Coach Jason Kreis was fairly ebullient about the team's plans in the press release.
“It’s so exciting to be able to share the details of our first pre-season and to be talking about the squad coming together for the first time. It’s what we’ve all been working towards and it will be great to be with the team on the training pitch,” Kreis declared.
“The training camp in Florida will be vital in determining the condition of the squad, getting to know one another both on and off the field, and bringing us up to the fitness levels required to take part in high level football matches.”
“We’ve had plenty of time to talk, to research and to plan, so I am absolutely sure that we’re giving ourselves the best possible chance to hit the ground running in MLS. Pre-season should be a time to work hard and focus on the season ahead but it should also be fun, it needs to be a balance of both. Brining a roster together for the first time is a challenge and I‘m pleased we have such a great pre-season planned to help us do that.”
The team's sporting director, Claudio Reyna -- a former Manchester City player -- was enthusiastic about the prospect of training at the academy.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to visit the site of City Football Academy at various points throughout its construction,” Reyna said in the release. “I can say with no reservations that we couldn’t be going to a better place to prepare for our historic first season.”
City Football Academy is the brand-new, soon-to-be-opened first team and youth development training facility next door to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium. It serves as a global headquarters for City Football Group, the enterprise that owns New York City, Manchester City, Melbourne City, and has partial ownership of Yokohama F-Marinos. New York City would presumably inaugurate the facility.
What say you -- are you looking forward to preseason? What do you think? Whom do you want the team to play in Manchester?