With the announcement of the season and home opener next year for NYCFC, March 5th at Orlando and March 12th against D.C. United. I wanted to take a look at NYCFC’s first preseason game in which they will be traveling to Guayaquil, Ecuador to test themselves against Club Sport Emelec. NYCFC vs EMELEC is much more than a friendly pre-season game. In fact the game will mark the reinauguration of the newly reconstructed Banco de Pacifico Stadium (formerly George Capwell Stadium).
WHO IS C.S EMELEC?
Obscure to many NYCFC fans, Emelec is one of the most popular teams in Ecuador, with followers all over the country. The team has won thirteen league titles and most recently won three consecutive championships from 2013-2015. They are a storied club which counts U.S. international Alexi Lalas and former MLS standout Ariel Graziani among its former players. This will not be an easy task for the Blues. While we are taking the type of star power that Emelec and its fans have seldom seen, this will be the first occasion Andrea Pirlo and David Villa visit the country, they are a team that is constantly playing in the Copa Libertadores against the strongest competition in South America.
Here are two main points to keep in mind as NYCFC head down to Guayaquil
1) MOST NYCFC PLAYERS HAVE NEVER PLAYED IN THIS TYPE OF ENVIRONMENT
Although this isn’t Barcelona’s Monumental which has always been considered one of the largest and best stadiums in South America, the new Banco De Pacifico Capwell Stadium will have nearly 40,000 screaming, chanting, jumping fans. Fans that will not remain quiet for the entirety of the game. You can believe that right now the Boca Del Pozo members are rehearsing their songs and thinking up chants for Pirlo and Villa, to both praise them and to throw them off their game if need be. Fireworks, drums, and minor seismic events are expected.
2) NYCFC DEFENSE DOES US NO FAVORS
NYCFC wins mainly thanks to its offense, and when the defense doesn’t show up, our goalies are left out to dry. I am not saying Josh Saunders was the greatest goalie, but he was a good goalie and until a couple weeks ago he was the only goalie we knew. He made some amazing saves over the first two seasons but you had to feel bad when the defense broke down on set pieces and men were left unchecked leading to easy goals. The man averaged 1.7 goals against this past season but it wasn’t all his fault. The team needs to get better to have a good showing at the Capwell especially with newcomer Sean Johnson still finding his footing with the first team after coming over from Chicago.
So although this game will be the first preseason friendly, NYCFC vs EMELEC is more than just a friendly pre-season game and should not be taken lightly. After all the love is shown to legends like Villa, Pirlo and Vieira, the fans will still want a win. And they will chant, yell, jump and sing to help their team get it.