Tuesday, March 25, 2014

NYC FC: How You Like Them Yaya Toures

A missed chance to be United?

My father likes to joke that he’s cousins with Manchester City Football Club owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan. 

Those who know anything about Arabic know that a) his first name is Mansour and our last name is Mansoor, which would preclude any real relation; and b) Mansour/Mansoor is like the Smith of the Arab world, it’s an incredibly common name that spans nearly every region in the Middle East and North Africa.

Despite a lack of filial or any other genealogical connection, my father still roots for the Citizens despite my howls of protest as a die-hard Arsenal supporter. 

“Did you see Yaya Toure’s penalty? So calm and professional. Why can’t Arsenal sign players like that?” he’ll ask, not with any malice. He just likes watching me rend my Invincibles-era scarf. 

So it’s with mixed emotions that I find myself looking forward to Sheikh Mansour’s newest venture, NYC FC, modeled in part on their Premier League cousins, MCFC. There are only two problems: I hate the name and I hate orange piping in the badge. 

It’s the former that contributor Tio Pelotas took issue with when I suggested the name should be NYC United. He protested that it’d be trolling MCFC supporters, who hate no one and nothing more than the damned United, the Red Devils, ManYoo, etc. But I contended that the name NYC United would fit better for a couple of reasons. 

First, they’re the team of the five boroughs of New York City, uniting the disparate fan bases and natural enemies among the citizens of different parts of the city. Yes, we’re one big, happy city, but we generally sneer at each other based on where we live and where we’re from. There’s like a cascade of snobbery, with Manhattanites looking down on those in the outer boroughs; the Brooklyn hipsters insisting on how much cooler they are than the sold-out, soulless “city” people and the passé denizens from Queens; the natural, baseball-born rivals between Queens and the Bronx; and generally no one really cares about Staten Island anyway.

But a city united behind one sports team, that’d be novel, not seen since the city as a whole loved the Knicks in the early 1990s, a fleeting time when we could all call one team ours. Now with the Brooklyn Nets, that’ll never happen again. 

But NYC FC name just lacks that sense of togetherness. It can’t really convey that they’re the only real soccer team (sorry New York/Jersey Red Bulls/Metrostars or whoever you are now) that represents us. 

And they’ll already say united on their shirts. If the main sponsor is Etihad Airlines, like the Citizens, NYC FC’s shirts will be emblazoned with the word Etihad, which means united in Arabic. Citizens fans will just have to accept that their cousins are from the same family but have a different last name. Even if it reminds them of their main rivals.

And who the hell likes their family anyway? As the old Arab proverb goes, unity means many people working together as if they are all one person.

As for the orange piping? It reminds me of the Mets and Knicks. Who wants to emulate those two franchises? Since the Yankees own a stake in the team, I’m surprised they didn’t push for pinstripes. Now that would have made a statement.

Oh, and my father won’t be supporting NYC FC. My parents live in Orlando and are looking forward to their adopted hometown Orlando City joining the MLS in 2015.

I can’t wait until NYC FC raids their ranks and I get to ask my father how he likes them Yaya Toures. 

- Adam Manzor