MLS 2021 Champions New York City FC: The Playoff Final, 2022 & Beyond

The sister club of Manchester City, New York City FC (NYCFC), was crowned MLS champions for the first time in their history, finally reaching common ground with their siblings’ dominant achievements. And although NYCFC isn’t close to owning the elite status that one of Europe’s most recognizable teams possess, they’ve now begun their dominance on American land as one of the best teams on the continent.

The MLS playoffs wouldn’t have entirely lived up to expectations without a drama-filled 90 minutes to conclude this 2021 season. The Boys in Blue celebrated their MLS Cup victory following an intense 4-2 penalty shoot-out over Portland Timbers.  

New York fans believed their MLS Golden Boot winner Valentin Castellanos secured the trophy in normal time when the Argentinian forward laced home a 41st-minute free-kick.

But in true MLS fashion, a dramatic 94th-minute equalizer came when Portland substitute Felipe Mora delivered during the game’s dying minutes.

New York’s ground-breaking success in the championship game concludes a fine year for Ronny Deila, who’d already broken records when capturing the club’s first trophy with a 2-1 victory over Philadelphia Union in the Eastern Conference final.

Starman Castellanos has made a considerable impact, and his attributes have undoubtedly assisted NYCFC in winning 14 of their 34 games to place them in fourth during the regular season.

The most surprising result of the playoffs came when New York dismantled New England Revolution during the quarterfinals. Even the bookmakers at were astonished when NYCFC entered as +252 underdogs but snatched a position in the semi-finals with a 2-3 win on penalties. New York thrives in an underdog position, and with the recent announcement of the 2022 MLS schedule, perhaps the sportsbooks won’t hastily undervalue New York’s chance of success next season.

New York City 2022 Schedule

The team schedule for the 2022 MLS season was announced on December 15, and although it was a mere three days since New York captured the 2021 crown, the thoughts of a new season are already present.

New York fans learned that most home fixtures would be played at the Yankee Stadium. Ten of their games will be held in the Bronx, and six will be at Citi Field. One of their regular-season home games will be at the Red Bull Arena, but overall, it’s still a step in the right direction.

NYCFC fans made it known, and the front office listened, with a schedule that’s delivering over 90% of home matches in New York.

“We are pleased that our secondary venue for the 2022 season will be Citi Field and know that it is the best and preferred alternative for our fans and players”, said Brad Simms, NYCFC CEO. “Citi Field is a world-class facility, and we’ve experienced an incredible in-stadium atmosphere from our fans when we have played there in the past.”

More welcoming news arrived in the form of Western Conference matchups. Such games were lowered in 2021 due to the coronavirus protocols. Still, this season will see NYCFC face off against eight squads from the West – including a season opener against the LA Galaxy in Los Angeles and a future home meeting with the Western Conference leaders Colorado Rapids.

A Busy Year in New York

Excluding the fixtures outside of the MLS regular season, New York will hit a busy period in May and July. The squad will have six MLS games in two months. But the most questionable stretch of games will arrive in August, where the Pigeons have four meetings away from home. The 2022 season will be a true test when the 2021 season delivered such a poor away form. However, away from did pick up towards the season’s end and, in the playoffs, which makes for an intriguing section of the season to witness whether or not the away downtrend has genuinely been overcome.

The 2022 season begins in February because of the 2022 World Cup; this will bring the MLS regular season to an end on October 9. So, despite a jam-packed schedule for the Pigeons, a three-week rest period will come in June with an international break taking place.  

All of the ifs, ands, buts, and maybes won’t matter if the defending MLS Champions continue their unbeaten run into the new season. The New York City FC schedule ahead is exciting and is just a few short months away.

Written by Balachandran B

Co-founder & Head of Operations @ SoccerSouls Sports Network. Nick Name: Jin. Favorite Sports team: Arsenal
Follow me @Jin

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