NEW YORK—As the final curtain on New York City FC’s inaugural season fell following a 3-1 loss to the New England Revolution, a banner was unfurled among the Hearts of Oak.
“The best is yet to come.”
It is a sentiment shared by the rabid fan base as well as its players.
“It’s great that the fans are saying that because, trust me, at some places in the world if you don’t succeed the fans let you know in a different way,” said Frank Lampard, who addressed the crowd after the match along with captain David Villa. “We can only be very thankful that our fans are behind us to that level.”
Villa is confident NYCFC can repay the fans with better performances next season.
“We will do everything possible for us to be better next year,” said Villa, who scored his 18th goal of the season on a penalty kick in the first minute of second-half stoppage time. “We’re going to be competitive and do everything for them to be good.”
On Sunday, even though NYCFC has been eliminated from the playoffs for a few weeks, the fans still came out in droves – 34,150 to be exact. They were as passionate for the finale against the Revs as they were in March when NYCFC played its first-ever home game against the same squad.
“I think the absolute brightest and most positive thing about this club right now is our fans,” NYCFC coach Jason Kreis said. “The support that we have gotten all year long has been absolutely fantastic. I think it puts the team automatically in a good place to succeed.”
The club announced in the days leading up to the season finale that they have 20,000 season ticket holders and have averaged 28,695 fans per game at home. While there have been clear struggles on the field, NYCFC has been an unmitigated success at the gate.
“I think it speaks volumes for the city, the support was always there win, lose or draw,” goalkeeper Josh Saunders said. “I think on that side of things, on the marketing side, on the business side, it was very successful. We look to put more success on the field next year.”
While there were no playoff implications for NYCFC on Sunday, the players talked about sending their fans home with a quality result. That didn’t happen as the team’s defensive struggles continued, but the support inside Yankee Stadium never wavered.
“Even at three-nil down they’re singing and getting behind the team,” Lampard said. “I wouldn’t say it was a surprise, but we have to be thankful for that because it doesn’t always happen that way. We owe the people who have come every week, we owe them next year to make the playoffs and try and bring success.”
When it was finally over and the last whistle was blown, Villa took to the microphone and addressed the fans in Spanish.
“I said thank you very much for all the support that they’ve provided this year,” Villa said. “They’re the most important part of the club. I’m sorry for the results we had this year, that we didn’t do well, and especially for this last game. We promise to work hard for next year and the team and I will be waiting for them next year.”