LAUDERHILL, Fla.—Things aren’t quite as hectic for New York City FC as they were last year, when an inaugural season approached, but there remain plenty of moving parts as the club prepares for their second season in MLS.
Last January, NYCFC were busy filling out their initial roster and ironing out exactly when Frank Lampard would arrive in the States. With 20 of 28 roster spots currently filled, things are a little more locked down this year, though the club is dealing with the small matter of bringing a new head coach into the fold.
NYCFC dismissed Jason Kreis shortly after the end of the 2015 regular season, hiring Patrick Vieira from sister club Manchester City. The Arsenal legend recently finalized his visa process and completed a move to New York, and is in attendance at the 2016 adidas MLS Player Combine in South Florida ahead of Thursday’s SuperDraft (1 pm ET, MLSsoccer.com).
Vieira hasn’t been made available to media at the Combine, but NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna did hold court on Sunday, telling MLSsoccer.com that the former French international is adjusting well to his new role.
“It’s been very good,” Reyna said. “We’ve been working closely on improving the squad, building the squad, getting to know the squad even better. On the personal side, obviously he’s had to move over and get settled and that’s going along smoothly for him, which is very important. But it’s good, he’s got a very open mind about how the league works, he’s really enjoying it. He obviously knew quite a bit coming into it, having watched us play [while at Man City] and he’s really excited about the year ahead.”
Vieira’s tenure will start in earnest at Thursday’s draft, where NYCFC hold the No. 4 overall pick, currently their only selection. Reyna said he’ll “probably” run point for NYCFC at the draft, with the club likely to have several solid options available in the first round.
One player New York is no doubt taking a look at is Wake Forest midfielder Jack Harrison. According to reports, NYCFC were interested in signing 19-year-old Generation adidas winger as a Homegrown player, but had their bid to classify the Englishman as a Homegrown denied by the league. Reyna wouldn’t comment specifically on Harrison on Sunday, but did indicate that he’s intrigued by the entire Generation adidas class.
Another thing NYCFC will be looking at on Thursday is the international status of potential draftees. The club currently has six of their international slots filled, and could see that number rise if they take any players on loan from Manchester City in 2016.
“I wouldn’t comment on any players we’re interested in, but I think the GAs are all interesting,” Reyna said. “They have to fit our overall squad. A lot of our better players are international players, so if we take a college player that’s an international player, how does that affect our recruitment and what we’re doing on that side? So there’s some good American players, there’s positional needs and there’s overall just the best player, and I think in the end that’s what we’ll probably do.”
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Vieira did coach NYCFC on their postseason trip to Puerto Rico, leading the club in their 2-1 friendly victory against the Puerto Rico national team in December. Reyna said Vieira’s first impressions of the squad were good, and that NYCFC is aiming to add some additional players outside the draft process before preseason opens later this month.
“I think in all areas of the field we can add some quality,” Reyna said. “In the backline, in the midfield, a different type of midfielder, and up front I think we need to add some speed to the team, maybe a 1-v-1 type of player and potentially another goalie.
“It’s hard to predict, but we hope to have some signings in the next couple of weeks.”