October 10, 2016
They could become New York soccer legends of the fall
By Michael Lewis
David Villa and NYC FC could very well taken on the Red Bulls in one of the MLS Eastern Conference playoff series. Now, how cool would that be?
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Whether you root for the Red Bulls (or Red Bulls II), chant for New York City FC, support the Cosmos or just love soccer in general, you have to admit we are on the verge of one of the greatest, if not the greatest, autumns in metropolitan area history.
Barring a collapse of historical and monumental proportions by the Cosmos, all three professional teams will be in the playoffs.
Moreover, all three franchises have positioned themselves not only to perform in the postseason, but to live long and prosper, to borrow a line from a logical person, there as well.
Let's start with the Major League Soccer clubs.
New York and New York City are neck and neck as the Eastern Conference race narrows down to a pair of matches.
The Red Bulls and the Blues own 14-9-9 records and 51 points apiece, although the New Jersey-based side is the conference leader thanks to superior goal differential (14 to 4). Remember the Red Bulls' 7-0 thrashing of City on May 21? That plays into the 10-goal difference big time.
Now, imagine if both teams win out and finish one-two. They would avoid that dreaded mid-week opening playoff game and set themselves up for an Eastern Conference final series that potentially would be one of the greatest two-game confrontations in the league's 21-year history.
Of course, without putting any horses in front of any carts, both teams would have to get past some serious foes in the conference semifinals.
But we can dream, can't we?
As Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch stated two weeks ago about the potential of a red vs. blues playoff series:
"It would be electric. It would be incredible."
Added goalkeeper Luis Robles:
"I know Major League Soccer would like that. New York City FC would like that and we absolutely would love the opportunity to face them in the playoffs. Not only would it continue to build the brand of within the New York City metro area, it would be great for Major League Soccer in general.
"Not only would the audience be treated to some fantastic soccer, but a very intense environment here at Red Bull Arena, and then across the river in the city."
Could not have said it better myself.
The Cosmos also have booked a place in the postseason, but they are gunning for great goals -- their second consecutive Soccer Bowl title and third in four years.
With only three games remaining in the regular season, the Cosmos are closing in on the North American Soccer League fall and overall titles. Barring a collapse of monumental proportions, the Cosmos should win it.
If they can secure home-field advantage in the semifinals and final -- the team is still looking for a potential home field for the weekend of Nov. 12-13 -- the Cosmos will have more than a decent chance of parading around with yet another trophy.
And who knows? If the Red Bulls and NYC FC can survive their conference battles, they could be vying in the Eastern Conference final series for the right to play for the Philip F. Anschutz trophy in the MLS Cup come Dec. 10.
And then there's Red Bulls II, who have won their opening two USL playoff games with yet another home game against Louisville City FC in the Eastern Conference final at Red Bull Arena this Sunday. The winner will reach the USL championship match.
Now, how fabulous would that be?
Three championship teams from the same area.
Yeah, there are many obstacles on the MLS rollercoaster ahead, but a few words of advice to whatever color you prefer to wear: red, blue, green or something neutral:
Just enjoy the ride.