With the United States of America representing an untapped market for the trashy sportswear behemoth that is Sports Direct, it's no surprise that Mike Ashley is intent on bringing Newcastle to the States for their pre-season friendlies. This last occurred prior to the 2011/12 season and saw Newcastle play in Columbus, Orlando, Kansas City. This scattering of cities was deemed too haphazard even by Newcastle's own haphazard standards, so this summer there will likely be an emphasis on keeping fixtures contained to one region. This region should be the Northeast of the United States. But why, Chris Kamara?!
That Thing What Happens on the Pitch
First - the footballing reasons. The Northeast offers a wide variety of styles for Newcastle to test themselves against. There's the slick pass-and-move soccer of last season's MLS Cup finalists, the New England Revolution. The NASL graft and ingenuity of Raul and the New York Cosmos. The Sunderland-esque inability of the Philadelphia Union to create chances, let alone convert them.
In New York City but-not-quite-Manhattan, there are the New York Red Bulls and the glorified marketing ploy known as NYCFC. NYCFC's David Villa would surely give Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini a good sense of what to expect in the coming season, namely chasing players who are faster and much more talented. And in the Red Bulls, there exists perhaps MLS's closest analogue to Newcastle United. Initially named the Metro Stars before becoming the glorified marketing ploy known as the New York Red Bulls, they've been in the League since its' inception and had not won any silverware until the Supporters' Shield of two seasons ago. The fans are long suffering, surely winnable matches have been lost, and fans are deeply dissatisfied with the ownership - particularly over how the owners choose to brand the club. Sound familiar? Traveling Geordies could empathize with the NYRB faithful, while Mike Ashley could trade notes with Red Bull executives on how to best alienate an entire fan base. It's a match made in shitty heaven.
These clubs, along with the Montreal Impact and DC United, are all within about a 6 hour driving radius of New York City, meaning that Newcastle could easily play all of those mentioned in a two week span. That's not to mention the several other European clubs who will likely be in the area at the same time. It cuts travel costs and saves money! Such is the Way of Ashley.
You Talkin' To Ayoze?
Given the mediocrity that has swallowed the club in recent seasons, Newcastle's players could do with a New York City-sized chip on their collective shoulder. With his slicked back hair, Ayoze Perez already has the look of a John Travolta sidekick from Grease and just needs the attitude to go along with it. New York City believes it's the best city in the world (because it is), and Newcastle United need that overwhelmingly arrogant self-belief as well. Perhaps with more confidence, they wouldn't have lost five consecutive matches to Sunderland. Obvious lack of depth aside, there is genuine talent in the squad. Moussa Sissoko, Ayoze Perez, Daryl Janmaat, Tim Krul, and Jack Colback are all above-average Premier League players, and a bit more trust in their own abilities could mean the difference between 16th place and that elusive 10th place trophy.
Off the pitch, the former Colonial strongholds of Boston and Philadelphia could instill a revolutionary demeanor in traveling Toon Army. With #BoycottSpurs an underwhelming jab at Mike Ashley's largess, more organization and drive is needed to truly strike at the heart of Ashley's regime. Where better to find a blueprint for the coming revolution than the very cities that set the bar for kicking off against the establishment? There's a parallel to be drawn between King George's taxation without representation and the loan sharks of Wonga, but at least King George was up front about how he took advantage of the poor.
And back in New York City, Newcastle would be welcomed by one of the largest contingents of displaced Newcastle fans - the Toon Army NYC. They're a passionate group, famously supporting Run Geordie Run on the final leg of his run across America. These loyal supporters will follow Newcastle to wherever they are in the States, but would gladly provide Newcastle with a glimmer of Tyneside in Manhattan. Also, Sting is in Manhattan now. Probably. So that's a plus?
It Doesn't Matter
Whichever cluster of cities Lee Charnley and co. decide on, it will have been the right choice. Soccer culture is blooming across the country and the opposition will be strong in every region. Regardless of the Ashley-induced turmoil, this summer will be an incredible chance for American Newcastle fans to welcome our club into our country. Supporters and players alike can enjoy a few brief weeks of possibility and optimism for the coming season, drenched in the American sunlight.