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This is it.

There will be other kick offs, but there's no kick off like your first one.

David Villa is looking for goals, starting this evening.
David Villa is looking for goals, starting this evening.
New York City FC

One year, nine months, fifteen days ago, New York City Football Club entered this world.

Born into great optimism and amid even greater expectations, New York City crossed the threshhold of theory, and became manifest fact. It is, perhaps, deeply symbolic that New York City FC is officially Major League Soccer's twentieth club, joining this consociation on its twentieth anniversary.

kreis reyna

I started following Major League Soccer in 1996. I was in high school when the league's first team — the Columbus Crew, now endearingly re-christened Columbus Crew SC, with a dash of upmarket flair — was announced. The venue of that promulgation was the late, unlamented nightclub named Mekka. I wore my school uniform, and crashed the press conference, boyishly eager to report on the news. My schoolboy enthusiasm betrayed me; a colossal usher (there are rarely any others at places exotically misspelled with double consonants) ushered me gently out.

I was hooked. That was 1994; an American summer at the World Cup. High excitement; the tang of disappointment on the tongue, with an aftertaste of great promise. When the Crew kicked off two summers later at Ohio Stadium, I screamed so loudly, I was left voiceless.

Twenty years have passed, one past the other, the autumn wind taking one, the spring bringing another. Between then and now, life happened. I count myself lucky to write about sports in general, soccer in particular, and MLS most of all. My allegiance these days is far less to a club and league and much more to players and people that I've grown genuinely fond of, but most of all, to truth and history, wherever they may in fickle fashion lead.

Still, I know how many of you feel, and that makes me smile.

656 days are strewn between there and now. This is it. This is the day you have been waiting for.

(ok, Chris writes for us, too, but we'd be lying if we weren't excited, too! -- Ed.)

The players of this team feel that electric enthusiasm no less than you.

There will be other seasons; there will be other kickoffs. This one, though; this one will never happen again. When that ball starts rolling shortly after five o'clock today, it rolls from a mountain downward. One summit: the creation of not just a team, but a flagship team — a showcase for all that is great and good in American soccer — will have been climbed.

We know not where that ball will go from there: the ball is round, so that the game can change direction. Whether it rolls towards victory or defeat today matters less than it is rolling at all. There are newer summits waiting to be climbed by this team; they wil be, whether now, or in seasons to come. But this one: enjoy this one, because you can't ever climb it again.

You can only look back on it, wistfully, and say: Remember when?

Then you smile, nod, and say: Yeah.

You were there at the beginning. Everything — and everyone else — follows from that point. Sports fandom is, if nothing else, the commemoration of memories, graced by the celebration of feats of glory.

Welcome to the club. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Won't you stay a while?