NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was a celebration of champions on Tuesday at City Hall.
New York City FC received the keys to the city after capturing the MLS Cup last weekend with a stirring shootout victory over the Portland Timbers in Oregon.
The championship is NYCFC’s first in its seven years of existence and marked the Big Apple’s first major sports championship since the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI following the 2011 season.
Chopper 2 was over City Hall Park as fans gathered for the special ceremony.
As CBS2’s Christina Fan reported, the energy was unreal. NYCFC’s sky blue colors were on display everywhere.
The crowd wasn’t just elated due to NYCFC’s first championship win. Fans had been on a high since Saturday night. Video shows many of them at the Manhattan Center watching the MLS Cup and cheering on their team. The match, of course, was tied 1-1 through 90 minutes of regular time and 30 minutes of extra time before NYCFC outscored Portland 4-2 in penalty kicks, capped by defender Alex Callens’ blast to clinch the victory.
Fans then immediately took to the streets of Portland and New York City to celebrate.
“We’re a bunch of loud New Yorkers and we were definitely a bunch of loud New Yorkers over there on Saturday. It was crazy,” said Felix Palao of the Bronx.
“I can’t put it into words. It’s the greatest feeling in the world being out in the greatest city in the world. It truly is something special, man,” added Ethan Balletta of East Harlem.
The diehards were out in full force Tuesday, with some parents pulling their kids from school for the celebration. One college student, who asked not to be named, told Fan he was cutting class. Another supporter even came hobbling over in his leg brace.
NYCFC had an up-and-down regular season, finishing 14-9-11. The Boys in Blue were one of the league’s top teams out of the gate, but later struggled through an 0-3-3 stretch that featured a 509-minute goal-less drought.
However, NYCFC caught fire when it mattered most, finishing the regular season on a 3-0-1 run, outscoring opponents 11-2. The Pigeons, the No. 4 seed, then defeated Atlanta in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, 2-0 at Yankee Stadium, before shocking Supporters Shield-winning New England on the road in a shootout in the semifinals.
NYCFC then went to Philadelphia and won 2-1 in the conference final for the club’s first championship trophy of any kind.
In the MLS Cup, NYCFC grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 41st minute thanks to a header from MLS Golden Boot winner Valentin Castellanos, only to give up a stunning equalizer to Portland with five seconds left in the second half.
But to the franchise’s credit, the players regrouped in extra time before dominating the penalty kick session, highlighted by goaltender and MLS Cup MVP Sean Johnson making two dramatic saves.
Watch: Christina Fan’s 5 p.m. Report On NYCFC’s Celebration At City Hall
Fan spoke to fans who flew to Oregon to watch the game in person and they recounted the dramatic penalty shootout in vivid detail.
“It was like a slow-motion moment. He got it in, and we won,” said Bryan Prado of Westchester County.
“After Alex scored the penalty, my wife just grabbed me, the hardest she’s ever grabbed me in my life,” Palao said of Callens’ winning kick.
“Everyone was like, ‘Yes! We made it! All this time, all these years, we finally did it!” added Allison Palomino of Westchester.
The official ceremony ended with the team getting the keys to the city, but players said it’s the passionate fans who are their greatest treasure.
“It’s a family. These are the people we spend more of our weekends with. We see them every week,” said Danny Chediak of New Jersey.