written by Ray Kingsbury
PURCHASE, NY – Tuesday, October 11, 2016 the Third Rail supporters group was invited to attend New York City FC’s team training session at the Purchase campus of State University of New York. The practice session featured the first team minus Shannon Gomez, injured, as well as Tony Taylor and Jason Hernandez who are away on international duties for Panama and Puerto Rico respectively. Notably, Frank Lampard performed routines highlighting a return to fitness. Stiven Mendoza and Connor Brandt also seem to be making good progress on returns from their own injuries.
The team went through their normal routines in the final legs of what has been an inspiring and successful second season. Despite a rocky start to the season, in some respects, Patrick Vieira’s men have learned to play from the back. The club, which started the season struggling at home whilst performing admirably on the road has made an about face and is currently on a 7 game unbeaten streak at home, 6 of those being wins, and the one draw coming to Western conference leaders FC Dallas. Third Rail members acknowledged the efforts of coach Patrick Vieira with a thunderous round of applause as he came over to sign autographs and take photographs with members. Also present at the event was club sporting director Claudio Reyna who took the time to engage with fans. A less expected guest at training was former Leicester City, Everton, Tottenham, and Barcelona player Gary Lineker. Lineker, who is the most prolific goal scorer in England’s World Cup history, was also sure to greet fans.
Perhaps the highlight of training was for Third Rail members to be able to watch entertaining games of soccer tennis between players and coaches. With teams featuring unlikely pairings, it led to some comedic moments as well as thrilling volleys. All present first team players were more than keen to engage fans and took their time chatting with fans as well as signing gear. Perhaps the best part of the day for many fans was to be able to meet their heroes in an environment that was not overly crowded and to have a legitimate opportunity to get to learn about them. In terms of conversations with players, there were many interesting ones. When Federico Bravo was asked about the possibility of renewing his loan or making his stay in New York permanent, he explained that he would be looking into that come December – it seemed that the Argentinian is really enjoying his time at the club. Mendoza informed fans that he would be game fit very soon and couldn’t wait to get back on the pitch to make a difference. Also by ways of return, Lampard assured everyone that his legs were feeling great and he was ready to get back at it. Lampard plans to be available prior to the post season. When asked to sign an NYCFC Star Wars scarf, it was revealed that Tommy McNamara thinks that the Star Wars series are entertaining movies.
Though a good drive for most Third Rail members, especially those of us here at the Connecticut Chapter, there is no doubt that this was an all around enjoyable experience. Join us next time, won’t you?