The casual soccer fan likely recognizes Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chairman of Manchester City, from “All or Nothing”, the all-access documentary on Amazon about the back-to-back Premier League champions.
But Al Mubarak’s role extends across the pond to the Big Apple, with oversight on seven different clubs under City Football Group’s broader ownership umbrella. At New York City FC, Al Mubarak sees a group ripe with potential and off to a strong start in 2019.
“It’s a very physical league, and I think we’ve learned how to scout specifically for MLS and specifically for New York,” Al Mubarak told CityTV’s Chris Bailey. “I’m very bullish about New York. I think we’re getting to understand the league very well and we will crack it.”
That quiet confidence stems from a 4-1-7 start to the season, which has the Cityzens as one of two MLS sides with a single loss. The other is Supporters’ Shield leaders LAFC. NYCFC are currently riding an eight-game unbeaten streak, though didn’t record a win until their seventh game of the campaign.
Al Mubarak said, just like at Man City, the goal with NYCFC remains singular.
“Our commitment as shareholders and as owners of all these clubs is the same,” the Tufts University graduate said. “We are investing in these clubs, we are developing these clubs to be the best that they can be and to win their respective leagues. Our winning ethos spreads in everything we are involved in. We’re not involved in this sport to lose, we are there to win – but do it sustainably.”
Doing that, Al Mubarak said, has come in spurts at NYCFC. The club, which began MLS play in 2015, has made the semifinal round of the Eastern Conference playoffs the last three seasons.
They’ll hope to push beyond that with Domenec Torrent now entrenched as head coach and all-time leading scorer David Villa moving on. To help fill the loss of Villa, the side has brought in Alexandru Mitrita as a Designated Player and Brazilian striker Heber.
“Yes we have not won the league yet, but we’ve been consistently in the playoffs the last couple of years,” Al Mubarak said. “We had to do a transition, which was a surprise with Patrick [Vieira] leaving to go to Nice, but we made that transition, a transition that was organic within the group.”
Either way, City Football Group clearly won’t settle until NYCFC — who last year opened a new training facility in Orangeburg, New York and are looking to build their own stadium — reach the peak of MLS.