Every sports franchise in New York comes in pairs. The Jets, Giants, Yankees, Mets, Rangers, Islanders, Nets and Knicks all came in a two-for-one package. After the New York Red Bulls were founded, it was only a matter of time before a second franchise joined them. Unlike the New York Red Bulls, who are based in Harrison, New Jersey, NYC FC will play its home games within the hallowed confines of Yankee Stadium.
On Monday, New York City FC finally signed their first player in franchise history by inking Spanish striker David Villa to a three-year deal after the 2008 Euro Cup Golden Boot winner spent one season with La Liga's Atlético Madrid. Villa is past his prime, but is still MLS’ most impactful signing of a European football star since David Beckham was lured to the LA Galaxy in 2007.
NYC FC is arguably Major League Soccer’s most ambitious franchise, but the 32-year-old Villa is used to the limelight as a member of the first national team to pull off the Euro Cup, World Cup, Euro Cup (inter-)continental championship triumvirate.
Villa’s signing wasn’t the only news NYC FC made in advance of their inaugural season. All good things come in twos for the Big Apple’s official soccer club. Villa will be joined by England's all-time leading scorer Frank Lampard who was joining NYC FC on a free transfer from Chelsea. Lampard, who will be making his World Cup swan song as England’s vice-captain is 35 going on 36 and scored eight goals in 40 appearances last season.
MLS is becoming the retirement resort for European soccer stars winding down their career and NYC FC, along with the Galaxy appear to be vying to unseat Seattle as the league’s premier franchise. However, NYC FC doesn’t begin its first season until March 2015 when both players will have inched another year away from their prime.
Villa and Lampard may not be Pelé and Co. during the New York Cosmos phenomenon, but it’s a step in the right direction.