On March 25, Upper90 Brooklyn brought out a big crowd to check out the new USMNT and USWNT kits from Nike, which had just been unveiled about a week earlier, as described by our sister blog at SB Nation, Stars and Stripes FC.
Though there are differing opinions about the kits, I like them. Pretty understated and classy, I think. What's not to like, at this point, is the USMNT's performance in its 2-0 loss to Guatemala, which is endangering the nation's chance to qualify for the 2018 Men's World Cup.
There were parallels to NYCFC's weak 1-1 tie the following day, which included 40-plus minutes a man up, but without a goal to put the game away. Honestly, it didn't surprise me that one of Guatemala's goals came when NYCFC's Mix Diskerud -- recently voted by his MLS colleagues the most overrated player in the league -- fell down on a corner kick, and the player he was marking knocked the ball into the net. That said, NYCFC looked so confused and aimless on Saturday, we might have done better had Mix been in the midfield.
The crowd at U90, some of them coming from a five-a-side tournament at Pier 5, reminded me what it means to be in New York City, as it was super diverse and energetic. The soundtrack, provided by a great live DJ, featured A Tribe Called Quest (R.I.P. Phife), Biggie, and other NYC hip-hop icons. Brooklyn's own Sixpoint was also in the house with local beer. I saw some familiar faces there, including Third Rail SC President Rox Fontaine and #1 draft pick Jack Harrison (who I'm praying will be in action soon). The only folks I wasn't too happy to see were members of the Red Bulls street team, but U90 works with a lot of clubs, and though they're in NYC -- not Jersey -- I guess they can't be expected to turn away the business of another team and its fans.
Turns out U90 works with a lot of teams, especially youth teams on Long Island, as well as supporters groups like the Third Rail, Hearts of Oak, and NYC12. I talked with Zachary Rubin, one of the store's co-owners, and Ben Jata, a manager there. Jata said the supporters groups are part of "an affiliate network," to "help them get NYCFC gear at a good price." He also pointed out that "a lot of things are difficult" for supporters groups to do on their own, and U90 tries to help, especially when it comes to distributing merchandise.
Both Rubin and Jata said that the new NYCFC gear for season two has done very well, and that they pride themselves on stocking as wide a variety as possible. "The NYCFC gear has been selling great," Rubin told me. "People really reacted well to the new kit, especially when it's customized. We invested heavily in making sure we had the broadest range of anywhere in New York. We were one of three accounts that ordered the toddler and baby stuff."
According to Jata, I wasn't alone in disliking our new secondary jersey at first glance, and then later falling in love with it, after seeing a bunch of people wearing it. Jata also mentioned that the training jackets "always come out nice, and those are one of our biggest sellers." I couldn't agree more, and I've definitely been eyeing the new Anthem Full Zip jacket.
Honestly, NYCFC's supporters have been looking sharp in their year two gear. I wish I could say the same about our team's play on the pitch.
But hey, perk up: the Blues' next date is against the Chicago Fire.