34 games. 51 hours. 3060 minutes. It’s been a long Regular Season.
So many games, so many special moments, so many gripping storylines…
As we prepare for our second MLS Playoffs tilt, we asked those who’ve trekked thousands of miles up and down the nation over the course of the campaign to cover our beloved Boys in Blue for their picks for Player, Newcomer, Young Player, Goal, Game and Moment of the Season.
In the first of a series of two articles, we discover our pundits’ picks for best newcomers, goals and games in our third season of play…
Newcomer of the Season
Trying to pick between Callens, Alex Ring and Sean Johnson is almost impossible since they've all been critical to City's success.
Callens gets the nod because the team's defensive improvements are why it had their best season and Callens has played every minute in central defense so it only seems natural.
A trialist in pre-season, NYCFC was 3-3-1 and in 6th place in the Eastern Conference when Sweat made his first start at Columbus – his first appearance in MLS – against the team who drafted him and never played him.
He assisted on the game-tying goal in an important come-from-behind victory and ranks third in MLS among backs with 6 assists. NYCFC have lost only five of the 25 matches he has started and he may have earned a look at the USMNT January camp.
Ian Paul Joy (@JOYPAULIAN)
I thought it would take us years to find a central defender who could fit perfectly into our system. Callens has made a shaky defense a much more solid and compact Unit. He makes very few mistakes and even comes up with a goal when we need it.
To play every minute of every game tells me so much about who he is as a professional. Top player with a tremendous attitude in representing our club.
John Rojas (@jrojas75)
He is the balance of the team, his addition meant a lot for the style of play that Patrick Vieira wants for this team. A midfielder with the strong and physical presence without the disciplinary risks and a great box to box.
Game of the Season
NYCFC 2-1 Chicago. NYC played a man down in this match from the 12th minute after Herrera received his second yellow. With the score 0-0 at the interval, Vieira set City up in a 4-3-2 shape rather than the traditional 4-4-1. Motivated by the chance to still attack, Villa and Frederic Brillant scored in the first five minutes of the second half and NYCFC recorded an inspiring 2-1 win in front of an appreciative group of supporters at Yankee Stadium.
Some fans can argue that there are other games that meant more in terms of the momentum, points need it, comeback or many other reasons. But winning the first Hudson Derby at Red Bull Arena will be part of the history books. So that's your Game of the Season. Saturday June 24th, 1:30 PM final score: RBNY 0 - NYCFC 2.
3-2 comeback win over the New York Red Bulls
Ian Paul Joy
2-0 win @ NYRB June 26th 2017 - This is a personal choice for me. I was at the game working for FOX and before the game I had to walk in front of the hardcore Red Bull fans to get to our studio set and the Red Bull fans clearly let their feelings known that I wasn’t welcome so to then watch our boys dominate the enemy in such a way gave me pure pleasure.
Also that game was very telling that our team is legitimately good this season and that we can handle the pressure moments in MLS. I left the stadium with the biggest smile on my face.
Villa 3 BWP 2. An enthralling game that not only crystallized the antipathy between City and the Red Bulls but ultimately established NYCFC as the better team.
City were fresh off the 0–4 loss at Toronto and New York had just won its previous four to pull within two points of The Pigeons.
Despite the Red Bulls' past success in Yankee Stadium and their rally to take a 2–1 lead, City found a way through David Villa who put in his best performance.
Goal of the Season
Ian Paul Joy
David Villa - vs Philadelphia Union April 14th 2017
It takes a world class player to pull of his strike vs Philadelphia Union. Just breathtaking finish from the league’s best ever import.
While the Villa goal just inside the halfway line at Philadelphia was remarkable, my selection for (and favorite) goal of the season came in Game 4.
Four players combined on the game winner in the 74th minute to beat San Jose, 2-1 at Yankee Stadium. Rodney Wallace to Villa to Ronald Matarrita to Tommy McNamara on the finish. I’ll take a 4-player combo over a golazo any day!
David Villa vs. Philadelphia from near midfield.
The Chip. It made no sense for Villa to try a 60-yard chip while holding onto a one-goal late in the game on the road. But I suppose being as capable as Villa means logic has its limits.
Again, people can debate about beauty, meaning, tactical construction and more. But my clear winner is the 65 yards 'bombazo' from 'El Capitán' to close the game vs Philadelphia Union on April 14th. at Talent Energy Stadium.
The best of all was his explanation after the goal, he said something like: I was very tired and the only thing that came to my mind was to hit the ball from there. We all know he tried this before and found success a few times.
Check back on NYCFC.com tomorrow for our pundits' Player, Young Player and Moment of the Season.