"The Third Rail eye inaugural season in 2015"

Some good coverage from the league's official website:

New York City FC supporters' group The Third Rail eye inaugural season in 2015
November 17, 2014
Dylan Butler
Special to MLSsoccer.com

John Malone has never attended a Major League Soccer game. His soccer fandom was limited to the US national team.

But when it was announced New York City FC would be the league's 20th franchise, Malone was all in.

The White Plains resident purchased his season tickets eight hours after they went on sale, joined the Third Rail - the club's official supporters group - and is already discussing future road trips.

"The second they were talking about NY-2, I was in with this team," Malone said. "This is finally a team I could be all-in on and would pull on the heartstrings for some reason. This is finally my first soccer team. I don't care who is on the team.

"This is my team."

Malone, who ordered MLS Direct Kick to do his homework on the league, isn't unique among NYCFC's most ardent fans. In fact, many of the 1,200 and growing registered members of the Third Rail have a similar story.

That includes its president, Chance Michaels.

"The ability to help establish the framework and build a culture from the ground up is one of the things that was so attractive to me and to many of our members," the Brooklyn resident said. "We get to do something that hasn't been done in our city."

The day it was announced there would be a second MLS team in the New York City area, Michaels started a fan blog. Then in July, Michaels - a lifelong Arsenal supporter who went to New York Cosmos games as a kid at Giants Stadium and Yankee Stadium - started a membership drive for the club's supporters group.

"I honestly didn't know what to expect. When we first started this, there weren't any players, there wasn't a logo, there wasn't anything," Michaels said. "I thought if by the first match we could have 500 paid members, I'd be happy. We passed 500 members in three weeks."

The group needed a name and put it up to a vote. Michaels said they wanted to shy away from anything with 'Ultras' or 'Army' in it.

Soon, the Third Rail was born.

"We wanted to find something that was uniquely New York," Michaels said. "This had the added the benefit of also incorporating some really powerful electrical imagery."

New York City FC immediately embraced the name, tweeting the club was "powered by the Third Rail."

"They participated in what the badge was going to look like, we let them choose where they wanted to sit at Yankee Stadium," NYCFC Chief Business Officer Tim Pernetti said. "That's the culture we're trying to create. I think supporters are growing because they have access to this club."

Access is of the utmost importance, according to Pernetti.

"No matter how far we go, how long we're around or how good we are, we will never deprive the supporters of the access they deserve because we want this to be, much like our sister clubs, our community clubs," he said.

Michaels said Third Rail lobbied for the supporters sections – 236 and 237 in the left-field bleachers – to be general admission and the club made it happen. Both sections are nearly sold out.

"It's going to be an interesting fit for everybody," Michaels said. "The club has been very interested in clearing as much room for us as possible. They've been very responsive to our concerns and interested."

Nick Loccissano, a firefighter in Greenburgh, also never watched an MLS game before and he doesn't have a favorite squad in Europe. His soccer knowledge is limited to FIFA video games.

Now, he's an NYCFC season ticket holder and a member of the Third Rail.

"It's the best time to be a fan," he said. "I'm not jumping on a bandwagon or anything. I feel like I can actually establish this is my team."

Michaels said there are monthly meetings with Third Rail members and the supporters group recently hosted a Halloween party and co-hosted a World Cup semifinal watch party with NYCFC over the summer.

There are also tentative plans for road trips, including the preseason Carolina Challenge Cup.

"We're also looking at the first day of the SuperDraft," Michaels said. "We're looking to have a presence there as well. It's been so long coming that we're all champing at the bit to actually do something."