On Saturday, New York City FC will bring a team that could include as many as six players and two assistant coaches as well as Head Coach Jason Kreis to Rio Tinto Stadium to face Real Salt Lake.
On Monday, two of those players appeared on RSL’s weekly radio show On Frame and talked about returning to the city they called home for many years.
“I think there’s going to be some extra emotion there. I’ve played on some previous clubs and gone back and it hasn’t meant as much. I think this is different just because of how long I was there and how many relationships are still there currently there at the club,” said midfielder Ned Grabavoy, who played with the Claret-and-Cobalt from 2009-2014. “I can sit here and talk about it, but I won’t know how I feel until I get back, or training at the stadium the day before the game and ultimately walking out to play a match at a place I love in front of fans I thought are some of the best in the league. They certainly appreciated me and gave me the respect I thought I deserved. It will be very different walking out there as an opponent and maybe an enemy a little bit.”
Grabavoy played 159 matches for RSL, amassing 10 goals and 14 assists in that time. Meanwhile, defender Chris Wingert played from 2007-2014, playing 204 matches. That duo helped RSL win the 2009 MLS Cup as well as reaching finals in the 2013 MLS Cup, 2012 CONCACAF Champions League and 2013 U.S. Open Cup.
With all of the memories on the field, both also established close relationships off the field.
“I definitely miss all the guys. That’s one reason why I’m super-excited to come back this weekend,” Wingert said. “To be there for eight seasons is phenomenal. I appreciated my time there so much. It’s just rare that you get to stay with a club for that long, anybody in Major League Soccer. I felt appreciated by the club and really thankful that they kept me around for that long. It will always be a really special place for me. In a perfect world I will always keep a home there.”