David Villa, NYC
(USA Today Sports Images)

MLS Expansion Spotlight: New York City FC

On Sunday, the Portland Timbers will travel to Yankee Stadium to face one of the two new expansion clubs in MLS, New York City FC (4pm PT, FOX Sports 1).

Unlike Orlando City SC, the other new MLS expansion team in 2015, NYCFC has had no previous soccer history to draw on.

But unlike the Florida franchise, New York City FC does have one significant bit of its own history, its direct connection to English Premier League club Manchester City FC.

Ownership and History

NYCFC's story began in 2012, when MLS Commissioner Don Garber first reached out to Ferran Soriano, who had only recently been appointed CEO of Manchester City. Talks progressed briskly enough that by May 21, 2013, MLS officially announced New York City FC as the league's 20th team.

"This is not a marketing gimmick," Soriano told the media after the announcement. "This is about developing a team that will play very good football and will have a chance to win."

While City Football Group, the Anglo-Arab holding group that also runs Manchester City, owns a majority share of NYCFC, famed Major League Baseball club New York Yankees also owns a stake in the club as well.

The Yankees' ownership is nowhere more visible than on New York City FC match day, as thousands of fans pour into Yankee Stadium in the Bronx to watch the new club.

Shortly after the announcement of the club's MLS plans, the organization hired former U.S. international midfielder Claudio Reyna as its Director of Football Operations and former Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis.

In its first six matches as a club, NYCFC, has amassed a record of one win, one loss, and three draws, the most recent of which came this past Thursday at home against the Philadelphia Union.

The Team

New York City FC announced its arrival in MLS with a splash, signing Spanish international and World Cup-winning striker David Villa last June.

A little over one month later, the club announced its second signing, English international and all-time lead goalscorer for Chelsea FC, midfielder Frank Lampard who will join the club later this summer after finishing his EPL campaign with Man City.

But Lampard and Villa weren't the club's only big signings.

In January, NYCFC announced the signing of U.S. international midfielder Mix Diskerud. Diskerud, who has started five of his team's first six matches, scored the first goal in club history in the season opener against Orlando City SC on March 8.

Surrounding Villa, Diskerud, and soon, Lampard, is a core of veteran MLS players that should be familiar to Portland Timbers fans.

Chief among them is Grants Pass, Ore. native Josh Saunders, who played for the USL-era Timbers in 2003 and again from 2005-2006. Saunders had 22 career shutouts with the Timbers, good for second all-time in Timbers club history.

In addition to the veteran Saunders, Jason Kreis has assembled his roster with several former Real Salt Lake players, including defender Chris Wingert and midfielders Ned Grabavoy and Sebastián Velásquez.

The team is led up top by Villa and a pair of young strikers, including two-time Hermann Trophy winner Patrick Mullins and former Oregon State forward Khiry Shelton, whom NYCFC drafted with the second overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.

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