Taty Castellanos celebrates his goal in front of fans at Yankee Stadium.  (Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports)

For the first time in 577 days, New York City FC played in front of fans, real life fans, in their 5-0 thrashing of FC Cincinnati at Yankee Stadium Saturday.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions set by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, only 7,212 could attend the game and they were spread out throughout the stadium.

That was fine for the NYCFC players and coach Ronny Deila.

“It was unbelievable to feel the atmosphere in the Yankee Stadium,” he said. “I just have to thank the fans. I think it was nice to see them again and then I have a feeling relationship.”

Deila’s remarks were seconded by his players.

“I think playing in front of the fans after so long was a big motivating factor for us,” said forward Jesus Medina, who scored two goals. “We were able to put on a good game and the ideas we were working on midweek worked out for us. We are happy for the victory. On a personal level I think it’s a good moment for me and I just have to keep working hard to continue to play well.”

That went for forward Andres Jasson as well.

“It’s unbelievable to have fans back and to see them and have them cheer when Sean makes a save and when we make a tackle, or when we score a goal,” he said. “It gives you a bit of extra energy and boost. It was amazing to get the win in front of them, it’s never a bad time to have fans and it could never be underestimated how much they do for us.”

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Guardian.com. Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of BigAppleSoccer.com. He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at Amazon.com.