David Villa
(Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Neither the New York Red Bulls nor New York City F.C. had a universally-known player this season. With attendance dropping and fans getting seriously discouraged after years and years of disappointment, a superstar from Europe wouldn’t hurt.

Onz Chery

“New York is really the place to be; to go to New York, you’re going to the center of the world, the lion’s den,” famous musical conductor Zubin Mehta said via 203 Travel Challenges.

New York is definitely a state fitting for star athletes to be in. Not just for football, basketball and baseball, but for the most popular sport in the world, soccer, as well.

In that case, giving that MLS is a league that’s on the rise, soccer stars would obviously have to be in their last playing-days to come to the Empire State.

The best man to ever kick a soccer ball, Edson Arantes do Nascimento better know as Pele, understood that New York was a good place to be and signed with the New York Cosmos in 1975 at 35 years of age.

Arsenal F.C. and France’s all-time top-scorer, Thierry Henry followed Pele’s footsteps 35 years later and joined the New York Red Bulls.

Four years later, Spain’s all-top scoring leader, David Villa, signed with New York City F.C. The following season one of the best deep-lying playmakers of all-time, Andrea Pirlo, also joined NYCFC.

All the players mentioned above have left The Big Apple. The last one to exit New York was Villa, doing so in Dec. 2018. Hence, for 11 months, New York has been without a superstar. Take a deep breath and process that.

The most prominent players New York has now are NYCFC midfielder, Maximiliano Moralez, a playmaker with Serie A experience, who represented Argentina and Bradley Wright-Phillips, a former Premier League forward.

There surely is room for a superstar. And there are options, at least allegedly there are. According to Bleacher Report, Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil is interested in joining the MLS, Sportsnet650 host, Dan Riccio, tweeted that Oliver Giroud is open to playing for New York.

TNT Sports in Argentina reported that if Carlos Tevez doesn’t sign with Argentine club Club Atlético Vélez, he could join the MLS. Tevez was linked to an MLS move before in 2015 as well.

There are options. But why would New York want a well-known soccer player in the first place?

A world-class player could certainly help them win a trophy. Neither New York teams have yet to lift an MLS Cup. However, looking at the past two seasons both sides have excelled during the regular season.

The New York Red Bulls won the Supporters’ Shield in 2018, NYCFC topped the Eastern Conference this season. A superstar could bring the killer instinct needed in the playoffs and spread it around the team.

Another reason why N.Y. could use a universally-known player is that it would increase the teams’ home attendance. The Red Bulls’ attendance dropped this season, so has The Boys in Blue’s.

It might decline even more next year. Fans from both clubs have been threatening to cancel their season tickets on social media because of the constant painful playoffs exit.

According to Soccer Stadium Digest, NYCFC had the worst ever attendance of their five years in the MLS, averaging 21,107 supporters a match. Meanwhile, the Red Bulls had their worst attendance since 2009, averaging 17,281 fans a game.

In 2009, RBNY was down to 12,744 fans a game. Their attendance tremendously increased to 18,441 the next season. What happened?

The club moved to their own stadium, the Red Bull Arena but they also bought a Premier League legend, Henry.

A superstar would not only rally the New Yorkers and the New Jersey residents to the games but it would also help heal them from the previous sad playoffs exit by giving them something different to look forward to and of course hope.

Thirdly, New York needs a superstar simply because it’s New York. All of the other popular states with an MLS team had a superstar this year. L.A. Galaxy had Zlatan Ibrahimovic, D.C. United had Wayne Rooney, Orlando City S.C. had Luis Nani. New York didn’t have a big international name to brag about.

Is it likely for New York to have a world-class veteran player next season? Let’s start with the Red Bulls. Looking at their recent signings, one wouldn’t put their money on RBNY to bring in a prominent player from Europe.

The club is known to get their players from their academy or when they do sign players from overseas, they sign youngsters. For example, the Red Bulls bought 19-year-old Mathias Jorgensen from Odense Boldklub in February and another 19-year-old Cristian Casseres Jr. last year from Deportivo La Guaira.

However, after a disappointing year, sporting director Denis Hamlett hinted that the club will try a different approach next season. Hamlett stated that the club will do its homework and “bring in the right types of players” in a press conference.

This could mean The Metros could be back to their early 2010s ways of signing popular players when they acquired Henry and Rafael Marquez.

As for NYCFC, they’re the most probable New York teams that will welcome a superstar. After all, they had the likes of Villa and Pirlo just a couple of seasons ago and going into this season, they went to Europe to sign two major players, 24-year-old, Alexandru Mitrita, and 28-year-old Héber Araujo dos Santos.

Originally from Haiti, Ralph 'Onz' Chery started his writing career as a City College of New York student with The Campus. He also wrote for First Touch, the Cosmopolitan Soccer League and other local leagues. After graduating, Onz started covering the New York Red Bulls for ESNY and joined Haitian Times.