Even though New York City FC won’t take to the field until early 2015, the MLS expansion club hasn’t been stranger to making headlines with the signing of Spanish international David Villa and rumors linking them to Xavi and Frank Lampard.
But there’s still a lot of work left to be done in building the team. Claudio Reyna, the club’s director of soccer operations, sat down with SI.com’s Avi Creditor recently for a Q&A about that very process.
In touching on a range of other topics, he said the club will obtain most of their players through the upcoming expansion and Re-Entry Drafts and the SuperDraft and MLS offseason signings in December and January, but that there will also be opportunities for U-21 players from NYCFC co-owners Manchester City to join NYCFC.
“There are some very talented players,” Reyna said of the U-21 players. “That could help us with positional needs and fill-in. With the limitations of international spots, we have to make sure that they're guys, if they're not starters, they're at least within the top 18 and fighting for starting spots. All those things we're weighing up. As we continue to grow, there's more interest in our club. It helps being in New York. There's no shortage of interest.”
Reyna also touched on the challenge of recruiting players from leagues with a different regular season schedule than MLS as most European leagues are currently in their offseasons and will be in the midst of their regular season when MLS starts preseason next winter.
“The thing with that time for European players is that any European player who is playing and doing well, that club is not going to let them go,” Reyna said. “So the players who might become available are the players who are not playing. There's many very good players who aren't playing. …
"There are players that could potentially come in the winter transfer window, and I don't think it's a big deal for those players. If they're interested and they want to do it, we can make it work. It's going to be another period where we can get some players from European clubs.”
Reyna all but ruled out Manchester City first-team players moving to NYCFC, unless it’s a permanent transition. And he said the remainder of head coach Jason Kreis’ staff will be chosen by him and not forced upon him by Manchester City leadership.
“There's synergy between the three teams [also including Australian side Melbourne City FC], but nothing is being forced upon us at all,” Reyna said. “There's been some staff that's been interested to come over. We're speaking to some support staff – not coaches.
"I think Jason, for the most part, is focused on bringing in coaches that know the league and that he's comfortable with and that's very important. We have Miles Joseph so far, he worked at Real Salt Lake, and we'll be speaking to other potential assistants and he will for next year.”
Reyna didn’t provide any news, however, on the status of the reported talks with Xavi and Lampard, nor did he offer any updates on their stadium situation other than reiterating they’ll play next season at Yankee Stadium and likely 2016 as well.
“We're having really good meetings with the city, continuing to make sure we find the right place, the right location that makes sense for all parties involved,” Reyna said. “That continues. We're having very positive discussions with the city.”