I’ve seen this movie already involving NYCFC’s playoff woes, right?
The movie where NYCFC fans go into the playoffs full of hope, eyes on the prize, dreams of capturing the MLS Cup before the New York Red Bulls do. Where the side gets a bye during the first round, so hopes rise even higher, as fans watch other clubs inexplicably stumble and fall. As they pat each other on the back while pointing to the TV saying “Fools, punters, cinderellas. How happy we are that our side finished second and doesn’t have to endure such an indignity as losing to a lower seed.”
What We All Want: NYCFC’s Playoff Woes
And then those dreams dashed, the expectations of the fans fairly expectorated upon, as the lower seed dominates NYCFC’s first playoff match. Followed by the fans – and the club – crawling back to the Bronx, faint hopes glimmering that they can salvage some respectability from this playoff experience.
We’ve already done this, right? I’m not imaging this, right? Last year, with Toronto FC. Same thing, right? Oh yeah, this year is different. This year NYCFC actually managed a goal. So it’s NYCFC 1 – teams NYCFC is facing in the playoffs 11.
And sure, it would be easy to take pot shots at NYCFC’s playoff woes. To unleash the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune upon the side we have covered this year, and last year, and the year before that. To call them the Barry Bonds of MLS playoffs. That would be easy.
So let’s not do that. Let us take the high road. For we are all honourable men. Let us instead dig deep into our souls on this eve of what may – as it was in 2016 – be the final NYCFC match of the season, and ask ourselves, well, what do we want?
What Do NYCFC Fans Want
Do they want a win? Sure, that would be great. And a win would be vindication of sorts, even if it weren’t enough to make up for the catastrophe in Columbus. 2-1, 2-0, 1-0. It would be progress, and progress is always preferred.
Do they want a win that propels the side to the next round? Something on the order of 3-0, or 4-0 or more? Yes, that would be terrific. Especially if that next round is against Toronto where NYCFC’s playoff woes of last season might be avenged. But even more so because it would mean the Dread Bulls had been eliminated and that NYCFC would have gotten farther than they had. And while I never wish ill to my good red friends, well, that too.
But more than either of those things. There’s that something else that we’ve talked about here time and again. The thing that, frankly, we have not seen from this side in weeks.
It’s the thing the fans have always wanted. It’s the thing every New York City fan always demands. From George Herman Ruth to Joe Willie Namath. The Great One to the Greatest of All-Time. The Blue Shirts to the G-Men to the Amazins to the Bombers and beyond.
They Want It All
They want there to be nothing left. They want you to collapse in a heap at the end of the match. They want Jeter emerging bloody from the stands for a damn pop foul. They want Willis Reed limping out of the locker room to face the Lakers in the Finals. They want you to come out on to the pitch and look the Columbus Crew in their beady little eyes and make them think that maybe four goals was not enough. That maybe five goals was not enough. That maybe they should have just stayed in Columbus. Or Austin. Or wherever the hell they’re going to wind up.
They want you to show – from the moment you walk out onto the pitch, to the moment the final whistle sounds – that you know, as all great New York City teams do, that you don’t just show up in New York City. That New York is not the finish line. That there is, as my friends in Beaverton used to say, no finish line.
Do that, play like that – with a, dare I say it, “ruthless humility” – that if you didn’t score this time, you damn well will the next; that if you didn’t win this header, you’ll win it twice as well the next; that if your pass was a touch long this time, it will be spot on the next. Do that, and leave it all on the pitch, and you will have vanquished the ghosts of NYCFC’s playoff woes.
Oh, and one more thing.
Just win, baby.
Because that old soccer savant Al Davis was right; it does matter.