New York City FC
Author: Andrew Wiebe | Cover illustration by Duane Tomaszewski
The blue side of New York looked like the expansion team they were in Year 1. In Year 2, under the guidance of first-year head coach Patrick Vieira, NYCFC graduated to MLS Cup contender, finishing second in the Eastern Conference, boasting the MVP in David Villa and snagging a much-needed NY Derby win against the Red Bulls. The big question for Year 3: Can they take that progression a step further or will 2017 bring a regression to the mean?
Key Offseason Transactions
|KEY PLAYERS IN:||KEY PLAYERS OUT:|
|Sean Johnson (GK)|
Alexander Ring (M)
Rodney Wallace (M)
Maximiliano Moralez (M/F) All transactions
|Frank Lampard (M)|
Andoni Iraola (M)
Jason Hernandez (D)
Josh Saunders (GK)
Player to watch: David Villa
2016 Landon Donovan Most Valuable Player. Enough said.
Villa came up just short in his Golden Boot chase, but NYCFC's first-ever playoff berth (with a bye, no less) was the real prize for a team-first player who's been the model Designated Player since becoming the club's first-ever signing. The 35-year-old Spaniard shows no signs of slowing down – in addition to his prodigious goal record, Villa is one of MLS's most dogged defensive forwards – and will chase even more plaudits in 2017.
How they'll play
HEAD COACH - Patrick Vieira
Vieira's commitment to possession-based, attacking soccer didn't waver in his first season as a professional head coach. That doesn't figure to change, even if cramped Yankee Stadium isn't exactly the ideal venue in which to play out of the back and on the ground. Once again, NYCFC will be a team worth watching.
Projected Starting XI
4-3-3, right to left: Sean Johnson (GK) — Jordan Allen (D), Maxime Chanot (D), Frederic Brilliant (D), Ronald Matarrita (D) — Alexander Ring (DM), Andrea Pirlo (M), Tommy McNamara (M) — Jack Harrison (F), David Villa (F), Maxi Moralez (F)
3rd in Eastern Conference. How important was the once-maligned (but ultimately effective) Frank Lampard to NYCFC's first taste of MLS success? We're about to find out. Instead of picking up another big-name DP, the club snagged Maxi Moralez late in the preseason and reinforced with young, hungry talent. This team will score goals in bunches, but they'll give plenty up, too. Managing the goals scored-to-allowed ratio will decide whether they remain an Eastern Conference power or drop back into the pack.