you think New York is a challenging city for athletes to play in, try coaching
here. Just ask Jason Kreis about coaching the inaugural 2015 season of New York
City Football Club (FC). As a joint-venture launched by the New York Yankees
and Manchester City, the new team was not fielded to just play hard and feel
good about themselves. The pressure is on right from the start for Kreis and
team director Claudio Reyna. Justin Webster chronicles the formation of the team
and the shifting fortunes of their first season in Win! (trailer
screens during this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
melting pot city, there are plenty of New Yorkers who know soccer/football. As
the home of the 1970s-era New York Cosmos, there are also plenty of New Yorkers
who remember championship soccer. Unfortunately, despite their deep pocket
owners, NYCFC have to operate within the constraints of a salary cap, unlike the
high-flying Cosmos, who were able to shovel money at Pelé and anyone else they wanted.
to league rules, NYCFC can start with a few big-ticket “designated players,”
like team captain David Villa and Frank Lampard. However, they will have to
fill most roster slots through the expansion draft, which is rather confusing
to watch without any explanatory context. Regardless, Kreis has reason to feel
optimistic, until the team falls victim to its parent organization’s success.
In a strange twist of fate, Lampard plays so well during his warm-up stint with
Manchester City, the City Football Group decides to keep him there for the team’s
that big piece of the puzzle, the NYCFC struggles in the early going. Kreis and
Villa, who seem to have similar temperaments, take the team’s slow start
particularly hard. At least Villa knew he would return the next season. For
Kreis, that is never certain, even when Lampard finally arrives and the team
starts a come-from-behind playoff push of its own.
Win!, Webster opts for a you-are-there
observational approach, but the lack of supplementary background will frustrate
viewers who do not already follow MLS soccer. For instance, the film never even
acknowledges New York, already had one MLS team, the New York Red Bulls, who play
in a New Jersey Arena.
Frankly, the emotional reserve and self-critical nature of Kreis and
Villa gives Win! an unusually
neurotic vibe for a sports documentary. Considering all that we see them go
through during the film, developments in post-season definitely come as a
disappointing letdown. As a result, Webster’s documentary might not drum up fan
enthusiasm in the way the City Football Group had hoped. Still, it offers in
interested glimpse into the increasingly global business of sport, but given
its New Yorkness, it might not travel so widely on the festival circuit. Recommended
for New York FC fans, Win! screens
again today (4/24), as part of the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival.
Labels: Documentary, New York City FC, Tribeca '16