Thirty-three games are in the books. Today at Yankee Stadium, number thirty-four marks the last competitive match of 2015 for New York's newest team.
Over those first thirty-three, there have been smashing wins, odious losses, and the continual realization that form is a fickle thing indeed. There were flashy signings, egregious red cards, and one Adam Nemec too many.
Today, it's time to put a bow on all of it.
Fitting, then, that the opponent is the same one that helped the Blues christen Yankee Stadium in mid-March. On that day, David Villa scratched his name in New York soccer lore, a tifo was unfurled at a baseball ground, and the home side scored their first-ever MLS win. The season never felt as easy as it did that day.
New England, unlike their Sunday hosts, have more soccer ahead of them. Barring an unmitigated goal differential disaster, the Revs are heading to the playoffs with the hopes of defending their 2014 Eastern Conference title. Slick playmaker Lee Nguyen and beastly bruiser Jermaine Jones will make their first appearance at Yankee Stadium today, and will look to give the Foxborough boys a boost as they pivot toward the postseason. They'll have their hands full, in all likelihood-- the Revs sport a sickening -16 goal differential on the road, where ten of their twelve losses have occurred.
And New York City has an additional advantage-- with only pride to play for, Jason Kreis's team can play fast and easy knowing that they've really got nothing to lose.
There are a few superlatives on the line as well: NYC keeper Josh Saunders is in line to finish the season ranked first in saves. His tally of 121 places him well-ahead of Seattle's Stefan Frei. The Sounders' netminder would have to put on a serious block party to catch Saunders.
As for players that can't use their hands, David Villa has one more chance to find the net and move ahead of Orlando's Cyle Larin for sole possession of fourth place on the annual goals list. Both men are locked at 17, with L.A. Galaxy's Robbie Keane just ahead with 19. El Guaje won't be catching Kei Kamara or Sebastian Giovinco for the Golden Boot -- both men have a healthy 22 -- but New York City fans are no doubt clamoring for one last virtuoso performance from their captain and most consistent star man.
In the big picture, for a year in which this new team was about as reliable as a wonky Peugeot, Saunders and Villa were the next best thing to clockwork. They'll have every chance to keep things ticking today in the Bronx.
I'm not sure I'll know what to do with myself when the offseason sets in. This team -- and the ever-expanding culture around it -- has only begun to make its mark in the Five Boroughs, but has already impressed itself into our weekly rituals seamlessly. Today, one last time, we'll genuflect in that sea of sky-blue revelry.
One last time, we'll witness the Passion of the Kreis.
(That's "one last time in 2015," by the way.)
You only get to have an inaugural season once. Drink it. Eat it. And support your crew.
We'll see you on the other side.
New York City:
OUT: Andoni Iraola, Pablo Alvarez, Jefferson Mena
PROBABLE: Andrea Pirlo, Shay Facey
No injuries? Lucky dogs....
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
New York City:
LET'S DO THIS.