NEW YORK — This is going to be excruciating.
That was my take away from Friday’s New York City Football Club press event, held at the Grand Hyatt, which is next to Grand Central Terminal, smack in middle of Manhattan.
It is going to be an excruciating year, waiting for 2015 to arrive, listening to NYCFC talk about “the City Way,” and reading stories about “philosophy” and “methodology.”
Enough, already. Can't we just skip ahead 12 months?
Thankfully, there was Jason Kreis, sitting at the head table, alongside Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain and NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna. In Kreis, we see a man who has already backed up his talk with success in MLS as a player and a head coach. We have already seen the "Kreis way" in Salt Lake.
And while it’s impressive that the Duke-educated Kreis will spend six months in Manchester, learning on the training fields with City manager Manuel Pellegrini and his staff, it is far more important that Kreis has been a student of MLS since the league started in 1996.
The "City Way,” as it pertains to MLS at this point, is nothing more than the pledge every single coach and general manager has made when taking a job. A pledge to play “attractive, attacking soccer.” A pledge to “play to win but also to entertain the fans.”
But unless David Silva, Yaya Touré, and Kun Agüero are headed to Broadway in 2015, we don't know what the “New York City Way” will actually look like. We see the possibilities, the potential, but mission statements mean little until the mission is underway. Goals and aspirations are a far cry from achievements, and the methods to achieve them always take time to develop.
As writers, we are told from a young age, always “show, don’t tell.” But unfortunately, the same rule cannot and will not apply to NYCFC, not until they take the field in 2015.
Which is just one reason why the next year will be excruciating.
The other reason it will be excruciating is that the potential for something special is there for all to see. We have to believe, as we see the way MLS clubs are beginning to spend money on players, that NYCFC is not grabbing a seat at the table to play it safe.
Reyna and Kreis said on Friday that the club will have three designated players. Fans have already begun to speculate that we could see a name as big as Zlatan Ibrahimovic in NYCFC colors. At this point, if they don’t go big – really big – the disappointment will be huge.
Come 2015, which will be the 20th season of MLS, fans can only hope that in two decades a lot has been learned about how hard it is to win over New York. Whether they are first generation Americans who brought their views from another country or hardcore New Yorkers who have learned the game in the last decade, New York soccer fans resemble those of other sports: They bring a strong opinion though the gates to their seat.
So, while “the City Way” may sound impressive – and believe me, it does – and references to how beautifully things have worked in Manchester may give a glimpse of what is possible, until we see what NYCFC looks like on the field, we are all just left to wait and wonder.
But, beyond the Mission Statement, we must credit NYCFC for presenting themselves in a way that makes them seem pre-destined to succeed. They spoke of their network of 36 scouts. They spoke of having already identified players. They spoke a lot about style. Soriano even listed “playing well” as more important than “winning.”
We'll see about that. But in making such bold statements, NYCFC are setting themselves up to be one of those teams that every league needs: a team people either love or hate. Typical New York.
You can imagine NYCFC doing great things, shrugging and saying, “Of course, this was all part of the plan.” You can also imagine them losing, much to the delight of fans of 20 other MLS teams, fans who grew weary of all the talk of philosophy and methodology.
Yet, again, all of that is still a year – and more – in the future. It would be great if we could see it all play out immediately. Not even the “City Way” can do anything about that.
Like I said: excruciating.
Jeff Bradley is a senior writer for MLSsoccer.com.