The Weekend That Was For NYCFC & Columbia • Latino Sports

Soccer

The Weekend That Was For NYCFC & Columbia

on

Major League Soccer’s New York City Football Club played to a 2-2 tie with the Columbus Crew at Citi Field Sunday in what was the final regular season game of 2017 before a crowd of just little more than 20,000.

NYCFC David Villa did score a goal that gave his team a 2-1 lead just before halftime but he also missed several golden scoring opportunities including a penalty kick at the 90-minute mark that probably would have given NYCFC the win.

Head coach Patrick Vieira was content to settle for a tie because that meant that NYCFC clinched second place in the MLS Eastern Division and that they get a bye with respect to the first round of the playoffs.

While many New Yorkers are disappointed that the Yankees did not reach the World Series the best Big Apple sports story of the fall, the so-far undefeated Columbia Lions football team who are now in first place of the Ivy League, can finally get some well-deserved attention.

Columbia hasn’t won an Ivy League football title since 1961 but that really isn’t the story here. My alma mater has been a gridiron joke for most of the last 50 years. If the Lions managed to win a game in a given year it was considered a successful season for them by the Columbia administration. In the 1980s the Columbia Lions set a record which Charlie Brown would envy as they lost 44 games in a row.

The Lions’ previous head coach , Pete Mangurian, was thoroughly incompetent as  evidenced by his three-year 3-27 record from 2012 to 2014. Ironically Mangurian was not fired by the Columbia administration for his pathetic won-loss mark but rather because a number of his players complained that he ignored injuries and was verbally abusive towards them.

Things began to turn around when Columbia hired former University of Pennsylvania head coach Al Bagnoli who was forced to retire by Penn because they wanted to bring in a younger head coach in spite of the many Ivy League titles that he had won.

I asked Bagnoli at his introductory press conference in the spring of 2015 if he could guarantee that the Lions would win a game that year. He refused to issue a Joe Namath-type guarantee and I have to admit that I didn’t think that anything would change for the Lions.

This is one time where I’m glad to be wrong. Bagnoli proved to be a top-notch recruiter and he, along with Columbia Athletics director Peter Pilling, managed to increase the budget for training and facilities for players without lowering the school’s rigorous academic standards.

The Lions still endured losing seasons during the first two years of Bagnoli’s tenure but at least they won a few games and played well in close losses to superior competition.

Most alums would gladly have settled for that given the humiliations of the past but that wasn’t good enough for Bagnoli and his team. The Lions managed upsets against both Penn and Princeton, two teams that had kicked sand in their faces for years. This past Saturday afternoon Columbia went up to Hanover, NH to face undefeated Dartmouth and against all logic they came away with a 22-17 victory.

There are still four games left so beleaguered Columbia fans shouldn’t start celebrating yet. If they do win the Ivy League title Mayor DeBlasio should have a parade for them down the Canyon of Heroes.

Alabama and Penn State should count their lucky stars that they don’t have to face the beasts of the Ivy League this season!

The biggest winner of the American League playoffs was cable television’s Fox Sports 1. Until three weeks ago FS1 was a little-watched competitor to ESPN. The Yankees went the distance in the ALDS with the Cleveland Indians as well as in the ALCS with the Houston Astros.

Most of those games were telecast on Fox Sports 1. It’s safe to say that Fox Sports executives could never have imagined that kind of good luck happening to them in their wildest dreams. It’s to be seen whether this increased awareness of FS1 will lead to higher ratings for their weekday lineup of shows which include, “First Things First,” “Undisputed,” and “The Herd with Colin Cowherd.”

The Brooklyn Nets’ longshot chance to earn a playoff berth this season suffered a major setback when guard Jeremy Lin suffered a season-ending knee injury during an opening night loss to the Pacers in Indianapolis. Lin has always had issues staying healthy and missed most of last season with leg injuries.

About Lloyd Carroll

Lloyd Carroll is the Senior Columnist for the Queens Chronicle, an award-winning weekly newspaper that has served the communities of Queens since 1978. This article as well as many future articles will also appear at Queens Chronicle. In addition, Lloyd also writes for our friends over at NYSportsDay.com. In today’s world of online publications, we at Latino Sports understand and value the importance of collaborating with other online publications in order to showcase and create awareness of each other’s work and dedication to our respectable communities.

Recommended for you