New York City FC defeated Sporting Kansas City in a big, 3-1, victory at home in the Bronx on Friday night.
As the Boys in Blue celebrated Manhattan Borough Night in true City fashion, it was an unforgettable night for NYCFC’s newest member, Gary Mackay-Steven.
The winger made his home debut, coming into the match in the 70th minute for Alexandru Mitriță.
He was greeted by cheering Cityzens, who gave him a NYCFC welcome. A moment he has been waiting for since his arrival in June.
“Absolute amazing feeling, feels like a long time coming. I’ve been here, I think, three weeks now and the boys had one home game that I watched from the stands,” he told NYCFC.com. “Obviously training with the guys is great, but making your home debut, especially here, is special. Delighted to be a part of the team.”
Mackay-Steven came on to the pitch and immediately began pushing the ball forward to help create chances for his team. Although NYCFC was up 2-1, there was no room or time to take their foot off the accelerator.
The hunger for the full three points kept them going. Seven minutes after Gaz took the pitch, he assisted captain Alex Ring for the final goal of the night.
“I was just happy to contribute and help the boys. I felt the team, especially in the second half, played really well and created a lot of chances,” he said. “Good value for the win, so for me personally it was great to make my debut and to contribute was nice.”
Mackay-Steven was thrilled to make his debut for NYCFC, but he was also happy to see a familiar face in the opposition. His comrade and former Dundee United teammate, Johnny Russell.
“It’s funny how football works, I’m great friends with Johnny and have been for years. I used to play with him years ago and it’s great to see him do so well here for Kansas City,” Mackay-Steven said.
"Obviously my home debut is against him over here in America, in New York, so it’s crazy how football works. It was a pleasure catching up with him, and was great because it’s been a little bit of time since I’ve seen him.”
Russell had been a big part of the winger’s transition to MLS and was the first phone call he made when NYCFC initially showed interest.
“When the interest came from New York, he was one of the first phone calls and messages I sent just asking about the league and everything to do with moving over,” he said.
“He played in Scotland and we’re similar players in a lot of ways as well, so he only spoke highly of the league and he loves it. He’s been doing so well and he was a big factor in my decision, so obviously thankful for him.”
Mackay-Steven’s contribution to the win made his debut a night to remember, not just for him, but for all of NYCFC. Head Coach, Dome Torrent, was particularly impressed with his newest addition.
“He can play on either side of the striker, he can play like a striker, and the last 10 minutes he played like a number 10. He can play both sides, he’s a good neutral player because he plays with quality when he has the ball, he can play with the ball and I’m very happy with him,” Torrent said.
NYCFC looks to continue their climb up the Eastern Conference table as they head to Utah to take on Real Salt Lake on August 3. Stay tuned to NYCFC.com for the latest on your Boys in Blue.