New York City FC secured a convincing win against FC Cincinnati, winning 5-0 in their home opener
The last time fans saw New York City FC play at Yankee Stadium was on September 25, 2019. It was the last home game of the regular season, and the Pigeons put on a show, beating Atlanta United FC 4-1. Now, after COVID-19 ravaged New York City, things are slowly moving toward normalcy. The city is continuing to re-open, coronavirus cases are going down again, and the light at the end of tunnel is glowing brighter.
Fortunately for New York sports, a limited number of fans are allowed to attend games. Hence, NYCFC supporters finally returned to Yankee Stadium on April 24, 2021, 577 days later. And, like the last time the team played in front of fans in the Bronx, the players turned on their engines and performed a show. They beat FC Cincinnati in the home opener, delivering a 5-0 thrashing, and secured the first three points of the season.
Without a doubt, NYCFC were more composed and defensively alert in the game against Cincinnati. They were not always perfect, and there were some alarming giveaways, including the moment from Keaton Parks where he gave the ball away in front of goal. But overall the team secured a convincing win, and this time they were able to score.
Once again, Valentín Castellanos found the back of the net thanks to a deflection into goal. But more importantly, the often criticized Jesús Medina scored a brace, including a curling strike into the far corner of goal in the 83rd minute. If preseason and this game reveal anything about former Young Designated Player, then it is this: 2021 might be the year Medina finally proves why he was signed. Of course, the season is long, and he must continue to perform well on the pitch.
Additionally, one of the five goals was an own goal from Cincinnati’s Nick Hagglund. And then, Gudmundur Thórarinsson scored his first goal for the club off of a free kick. So, for the fourth time, NYCFC scored four or more goals against the 2019 expansion side, and have now won all five games against the Orange and Blue.
The goals were great, but the fans were better
Excluding the one CONCACAF Champions League game that was played in front of fans at Red Bull Arena, New York City FC played the entirety of their 2020 home games without their supporters. While many areas throughout the United States were hit hard by COVID-19, New York City was one of the first.
Since less information was known at the beginning of the pandemic, the city truly struggled with the virus. Many faced the virus itself, with over 916,000 cases and over 32,000 deaths over the last year. Many became unemployed, and some found themselves on food lines for the first time. There were so many unknowns, and at some points it felt like there was a dark cloud hanging over. 2020 was a difficult year, but New York, both the city and the state, is trending in a positive direction.
Therefore, after that trialing year, it is a welcoming sight to see fans at sporting events again. It marks a move toward normalcy. Despite the limited attendance, everyone at Yankee Stadium was loud and passionate. Supporters made their voices heard, and the Pigeons heard them loud and clear. The energy from the seats seemed to drive the players to fight on the pitch. And eventually, the team came away with a 5-0 win.
Of course, securing the three points, and in a thrilling fashion, was important. But sports is nothing without fans. The return of New York City FC supporters to Yankee Stadium was definitely the highlight of Saturday’s win. Hopefully, as the season progresses, more fans will be able to attend the games, and cheer on the team to more wins.