There were chances for both sides on an ugly day in the city, but a couple of borderline Herculean performances from
a couple of precisely one U.S. Men’s National Team camp regular and one actual demigod kept things scoreless in the Bronx. Here’s what we learned from D.C. United’s scoreless road draw against New York City FC.
Bill Hamid is mad and that is good
When Luciano Acosta’s transfer to Paris Saint-Germain fell through during preseason, I said on our Filibuster podcast that I hoped this would mean he was ready to come back to MLS and take out his completely reasonable frustrations on the rest of the league. So far, that’s exactly what he’s done — even if his finishing at Yankee Stadium was less than perfect.
We all knew Bill Hamid felt snubbed when he was left out of Gregg Berhalter’s first January camp as USMNT manager. We knew he felt like he had something to prove after he was unable to displace the title-winning incumbent and force his way onto the field for Midtjylland.
But it didn’t occur to me until today exactly how similar the two situations are. Both men are elite MLS talents, and both have reason to nurture chips on their respective shoulders.
And man, has Bill Hamid ever learned how to use that chip to his advantage.
In his younger days, Hamid could lose control of his physical gifts — closing down an onrushing striker a little too hard and giving up a penalty, for instance — and he could give in to his emotions (which led to #TCHUB, so no complaints on that front).
Now, Bill has fully learned to accept himself and control his emotional state. Snubs and frustrations have turned to motivation. And now Hamid has further channeled his rage by challenging himself — publicly! — to outperform everyone ahead of him on the USMNT depth chart, telling the press and the world in no uncertain terms that he’s the bettter goalkeeper.
One of the best things in sports is when players say something that raises the stakes on themselves and then they back it up. Hamid with three huge saves to secure DC a shutout and a point at Yankee Stadium.— Bobby Warshaw (@bwarshaw14) March 10, 2019
Two games into 2019, and Bill is proving himself right (even as NYCFC’s Sean Johnson was equally outstanding on the day). Stay mad, stay focused, kick ass.
Flo Sports blew their first impression
D.C. United’s new media rights partner had to know that “skeptical” wasn’t a strong enough word to describe many fans’ inclinations toward them coming into Sunday.
For the first time, the Black-and-Red are viewable in the DMV only via paid stream. That’s a big change from the admittedly imperfect deals United had had with Sinclair and with NBC Sports Washington (formerly Comcast SportsNet, Home Team Sports if you’re nasty), which were both companies and formats that people were familiar with.
So FloSports must have known how little room for error they had and that they needed to nail their debut. Or, maybe they didn’t. Or, knowing they have at least three years to really figure things out, maybe they didn’t care.
Whatever the case, Sunday left a bad taste in many fans’ mouths.
Watch parties run by supporters groups and by the team itself were derailed by technical issues that show a streaming partner that was completely unprepared. Those trying to watch the game from home continually had their streams crash.
Before the game even started, word came out that FloSports would have the commentary team of Dave Johnson and Devon McTavish calling the game from a video feed rather than sending them on the short train ride up to New York to be at the game in person, disappointing those of us who notice the difference in what the play-by-play and analyst can spot when they’re in the building and what they’re left to when all they have is a monitor.
Even before that, there were complaints about Flo being less than transparent in their pricing and billing structure. (If my understanding is correct, any subscription purchased through D.C. Untied will be billed for the entire year, and Flo gives you that total price, but customers will see an “average per-month” cost several times, leading some to believe they’ll be billed on a monthly basis.) It may not be ill intent, but it’s avoidable confusion that Flo would do well to correct.
To their credit, Flo responded to complaints and delivering updates on social media, and the second half went more smoothly than the first, even as some viewers continued to face problems.
At the start of the @dcunited match today some users were blocked in a region that shouldn't have been. The issue was resolved but we apologize for any inconvenience. When the issue was fixed interruptions may have resulted. If you were impacted: https://t.co/4Kqy2yukPh— FloSports (@flosports) March 10, 2019
Goes without saying the debut with DCU didn't go great. A very small number were geo-blocked that shouldn't have been. When we updated settings to resolve, it regrettably reset the stream. That caused the glitches early in the game. After that it was solid. Not a capacity issue.— Jason Byrne (@jasonbyrne) March 10, 2019
But it shouldn’t have come to this. With multiple preseason games unavailable for viewing this year, there were opportunities to do dry runs and to test their setup. Alas.
Flo will get a chance to do better next Saturday as United host Real Salt Lake, and hopefully they won’t squander it.
Everyone has had enough soccer at Yankee Stadium
This isn’t even something new. Everybody is sick of watching soccer on a baseball field.
The pitch is unacceptably small. The camera angles are weird and bad. The surface so often looks unplayable, Sunday night possibly more than ever.
I’ve seen one game in person at Yankee Stadium, as a neutral, and I’ll admit it makes for a certain kind of wild entertainment. The small playing area makes everything faster — you hear the word “pinball” so often from players and coaches — and it leads to even more chaos than we’re used to seeing.
(Aside: that propensity for chaos might help explain the result of the game I saw in person — the Red Wedding, in which the Red Bulls hung seven on the poor Cityzens. No team in MLS is as used to or thrives in chaos as much as the Metros.)
NYCFC fans are probably the last who need to be convinced by complaints about their (“their”) stadium. Word for the last few years has been that the Yankees want their soccer-playing sister club out just as badly as everyone else does. Numbers floating around about the financial loss of playing there after rent and field conversion costs make RFK Stadium look downright prudent.
The current setup works for exactly nobody. It can’t change soon enough.
I know intellectually that building a soccer stadium in the Five Boroughs is nigh impossible. But we knew the same about building here in DC, and look what happened even without the clout of the Yankees or the financial muscle of City Football Group. Get it done, NYCFC. For all our sakes.
Hit us up in the comments with your takeaways from Sunday afternoon.