Year one of the Ronny Deila era for NYCFC led to a playoff berth. Expectations remain high in year two, though the squad has undergone something of an offseason makeover.
Longtime regulars Alex Ring and Ronald Matarrita departed and the club are yet to make a big-name addition, though they retain plenty of flexibility to do so during the season. Will NYCFC’s playoff streak continue?
- MLS Reg. Season: 5th in Eastern Conference (39 pts - 1.70 PPG - 12-3-8, +12 GD)
- Audi MLS Cup Playoffs: Eliminated in Round One by Orlando City, 1-1 (6-5 after penalties)
- Concacaf Champions League: Eliminated in quarterfinals by Tigres UANL, 5-0
Entering his age-34 season, Moralez remains one of NYCFC’s most important players. Injuries limited him to 10 starts in 2020, where he had a goal and four assists.
Tinnerholm is one of the league’s best fullbacks, a consistent and reliable presence at right back for NYCFC.
The Brazilian forward will be out for the first few months of 2021 as he continues rehab from a torn ACL, but he figures to lead the lines once fit and in form once again. He broke out with 15 goals in his debut MLS season in 2019, though scored just once in 2020.
Young Player to Watch
We all know about James Sands, so let’s highlight a different young player. Jasson may stand to benefit from the club’s lack of senior additions, with the homegrown impressing so far during preseason.
- Malte Amundsen: A Danish youth international, Amundsen was the club’s first senior addition of the offseason. The left back has featured for the likes of Rosenborg and Velje in his career thus far.
- Chris Gloster: Another left back, the US youth international signed this winter from PSV after a few years in Europe. He was a product of the Red Bulls academy before heading to Germany in 2018.
- Alex Ring: Ring was acquired by Austin FC in a blockbuster trade this winter. The former captain made more than 100 appearances in four seasons with NYCFC. Their midfield remains strong with Sands, Keaton Parks and Moralez the likely starting trio.
- Ronald Matarrita: The two left backs above will have to replace the minutes left by Matarrita, who was traded to FC Cincinnati. The Costa Rica international spent five seasons with NYCFC.
Projected Starting XI
- Goalkeepers (3): Luis Barraza, Sean Johnson, Cody Mizell
- Defenders (8): Malte Amundsen, Alex Callens, Maxime Chanot, Chris Gloster, Tayvon Gray, Sebastien Ibeagha, Gumundur Thorarinsson, Anton Tinnerholm
- Midfielders (8): Nicolas Acevedo, Justin Haak, Maxi Moralez, Keaton Parks, Tony Rocha, James Sands, Juan Pablo Torres, Gedion Zelalem
- Forwards (5): Valentin Castellanos, Heber, Andres Jasson, Jesus Medina, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi
Armchair Analyst's Breakdown
- Strength: The core of what’s been one of the best teams in the league over the past few years is largely intact, and most of those players are in their respective primes. If you can put out an XI with no weak links, you’re in good shape.
- Weakness: The most important part of that core — Moralez — is officially old, and he looked it last year. This team has almost zero depth across the front three and precious little depth in central defense. The core they’ve (mostly) kept together is very good, but they also appear to be further from a title than they were two years ago, not closer.
- Charles Boehm: 6th in East
- Tom Bogert: 8th in East
- Susannah Collins: 7th in East
- Charlie Davies: 7th in East
- Matthew Doyle: 8th in East
- Sam Jones: 6th in East
- Michael Lahoud: 8th in East
- Joe Lowery: 6th in East
- Jillian Sakovits: 6th in East
- Greg Seltzer: 9th in East
- Steve Zakuani: 6th in East