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Nothing but Blue Skies: Sights & sounds from NYC's historic home opener

Five supporter groups. Over 43,000 fans. A city made history on Sunday, and Hudson River Blue was there to genuflect with the congregation.

Under the tifo
Under the tifo
Alex Wolinetz

On a cloudy Sunday, the Bronx turned a brilliant shade of sky-blue.

The opponent was fitting, because what we witnessed constitutes a revolution. But just like Britain in 1688, it was a Glorious Revolution. Bloodless. This is not to say that shots weren't fired: shots came soaring in like an Etihad jet, but ultimately caressed the netting with the knowing touch of a lover.

Yes, bloodless, but not without heart.

There was a lot to love about this Massive Night in New York. Let's re-live the merry mania!

*     *     *

Beginning around 1:00 PM, a multitude of pre-game parties began to mount in the vicinity of River Avenue and 161st Street, mere steps from the "House that Ruth Built and Was Subsequently Rebuilt."

The Third Rail Supporters' Club took over Billy's Sports Bar with a mob of hundreds upon hundreds. Immediately next door, the fledgling Hearts of Oak Supporters and the grassroots organization known as Friends of Footy set up shop at Yankee Bar and Grill to have a drink and rehearse their core songs and chants:

Their decidedly punk-rockish angle will be something to follow in the coming weeks and months. Honestly, any time we can infuse Danzig into the culture, my endorsement will soon follow.

Brown Bag Social Club, which has many members overlapping with the aforementioned Friends of Footy, brought an impressive contingent to the Dugout sports bar. Right around the corner, the Bronx Football Social Club, colloquially known as the Goodfellas, curated a rather classically Irish vibe at Yankee Tavern.

(We don't have footage of Goodfellas' ringleader Tom Dixon dancing a jig, but we have been told that it definitely happened at least once.)

The five families started in their separate houses, but they all came together out on the street. That's New York. That's why New York City FC is a game changer.

Pictured there is Kevin Brown of Soccer Gods / Fusion TV attempting to tape a segment, only to lose out to the merry band of sky-blue homies and homettes that joined to get turnt in an upward direction on Sunday.

Hell, even Michael Davies from Men in Blazers got ratchet for this one.

The grinning, beer-soaked excitement had reached critical mass long before the 5:00 PM kickoff, but the fans' collective tank was far from empty.

The Third Rail, with close to 2,000 members and the longest tenure of any official New York City FC supporter group, had the biggest opportunity to make a splash at the historic venue before a national TV audience. Dozens of members spent an estimated thirty hours preparing the first NYCFC tifo. Unfurled just as Ashanti finished off our national anthem, the result was duly impressive, and portends as a point of ecstatic pride and a top-drawer recruiting tool for the group going forward.

(photo: Third Rail SC)

I should also mention that I got swallowed up by the thing. I had no idea it was about to happen, but to get enveloped by it was awfully fun. I'm considering getting new bedsheets with this exact design. I felt like Boba Fett tumbling into the sandy bowels of the Sarlacc in Return of the Jedi, but in a good way, given that I did not die.

Before I totally bail on this column and watch Return of the Jedi on loop, I should mention that an actual soccer game got played, too!

(Check out Raf's fantastic game recap for the proper blow-by-blow.)

In minute nineteen, Ned Grabavoy, the invulnerable, half-dude-half-machine central midfielder who routinely found himself battered and beaten on the pitch such that he very nearly became a permanent part of the turf, fought his way into the eighteen-yard box. He clipped the ball ahead to David Villa -- EL CAPITAN -- and the Spanish legend looped it past goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth for the first-ever MLS goal at Yankee Stadium.

The fans approved.

The scoring was not finished. In minute eighty-four -- about ninety seconds after coming on as a substitute -- New York City striker Patrick Mullins, formerly of New England, came sliding in to laser home a finish off a skinny, slick cross from David Villa. Catch the video of the fans going nuts HERE!

It would have been the perfect capstone on a momentous day and a massive night, but as the supporters filed out of the stadium, the singing, rejoicing, and flashbulbing didn't cease.

Actually, the energy ratcheted up to eleven out on the streets. Pulsating. Kinetic. I felt like I was standing square in the middle of the kind of street festival that accompanies a league championship or a successful coup d'etat. Soccer brought us all together on Sunday, but THIS? This thing, folks -- whatever we choose to call it -- is far bigger than the game. Vamos, mis celestes:

"Blue skiiiiieees, smilin' at me / Nothing but bluuuueeee skiiiiieeees / Do I seeeeeee..."