ICYMI: NYCFC will travel to Orlando City on the opening weekend of the 2017 season, while DC United will be Yankee Stadium’s first visitors on the following weekend.
Here’s what we learned from our first glimpse of the 2017 MLS schedule…
The Home Opener
Patrick Mullins will play the role of “Prodigal Son” when DC United return to Yankee Stadium on Sunday, March 12.
A popular figure still with the teammates and staff he left behind in July of this year, Mullins has gone from strength to strength since that trade, netting eight goals in just 13 starts.
He’ll be considered one of the dangermen for a DC United who have been reasonably quiet so far in the offseason when it comes to transactions.
Their only incoming player so far announced is Costa Rican forward Jose Guillermo Ortiz on loan from CS Herediano – a former teammate of Ronald Matarrita’s at Alajuelense.
NYCFC have so far brought in two players in the shape of goalkeeper Sean Johnson and striker Sean Okoli from Atlanta United and FC Cincinnati respectively.
Both rosters are sure to look a little different when the teams renew rivalries once more in March following January’s SuperDraft.
DC United’s last trip to Yankee Stadium in September served up some of the best entertainment seen in the league last season.
Just when it looked as though Vieira’s side had surrendered the three points in injury time when Lamar Neagle made it 2-2, Frank Lampard score a dramatic winning goal in the 93rd minute to take the roof off the stadium.
That kept up our 100% winning record from two home meetings with DC but our trips to Florida to take on Orlando City have been less profitable.
NYCFC have been to Orlando on three occasions and have only brought one point back up the East Coast out of a possible nine, giving us extra incentive to kick off the campaign with a win this time around.
For inspiration, the boys only need to look back to the opening day of the 2016 season when we recording a 4-3 victory away at Chicago.
There are talking points galore from this intriguing reveal of the first fortnight of 2017 but much of the focus will be on our trip to Florida.
NYCFC will be the first team in the away locker room at Orlando City Stadium which, according to Orlando City President Phil Rawlins, will create an atmosphere which will rival some of the best soccer stadiums in Europe.
“I think opening day of the stadium will be even more emotional than opening day of MLS because as I’ve said it’s the final piece of the jigsaw so the last piece to put in place,” Rawlins said.
Vieira’s men will be out to play the role of party-poopers, aiming to capitalize on any distraction and any feelings of disorientation in the Orlando ranks.
It’s impossible to consider traveling to Orlando City on the opening weekend of a season without looking back to our very first MLS game in March 2015.
So much has changed for both sides since they were the newcomers to MLS taking their first steps together as the last batch of Expansion teams before Atlanta and Minnesota take that mantel on this year.
For NYCFC, only four players remain from the 18-man matchday squad which was named for that clash 21 months ago – Josh Saunders, Mix Diskerud, Khiry Shelton and David Villa.
We’re a very different beast in 2016 and will surely go into our third season with confidence following our first-ever MLS Playoffs tilt.
We Meet Again
Our first Head Coach Jason Kreis will be on the home bench this time around on the opening weekend of the season in Orlando.
Kreis took charge of NYCFC for a season, earning a 10-17-7 record from their inaugural campaign before he was succeeded by Vieira in January 2016.
Since, Jason replaced Adrian Heath in July and has so far overseen eight games, winning three for a 37.50% win ratio.
He got the better of NYCFC in the last rain-delayed encounter in August, with Orlando running out 2-1 victors, so Vieira’s men will be out for a measure of revenge against the old gaffer when March rolls around.
There are four ways to be at our Home Opener vs DC United…