Pep in his step, jazz in his soul | 10 Things about NYCFC's Dome Torrent

Domenec Torrent at first training

ORANGEBURG, N.Y. — Domenec Torrent is the third coach in New York City FC history, and the first to take over during a midseason.

He arrives from Manchester City, after an 11-year career as an understudy to Pep Guardiola. In 11 years total under Guardiola between Barcelona, Munich and City, Torrent won 24 trophies. 

But who is the man? Here are 10 things to know about NYCFC’s new boss. 

Pep in his step 

Pep in his step, jazz in his soul | 10 Things about NYCFC's Dome Torrent -

Torrent, left, on the bench with mentor Pep Guardiola while on Guardiola's staff at Manchester City | Reuters

Torrent is close to Guardiola – very close. He considers the master tactician “like a brother” and calls him “the best coach ever because he introduced new concepts in the game.”

They are so close that Guardiola checked in with Torrent before his MLS debut Sunday against Toronto FC

“He told me all the best for you. Are you nervous? No. Pep, you know me, maybe it’s a quality, maybe not, but normally I’m not nervous,” Torrent said. “He wished me all the best for this season and for next year. He said to me, see you next time. No bye-bye, see you next time.”

Guardiola also kept track of the match closely. Well, as closely as one can when unable to watch a live feed.

“He followed the game on Twitter,” Torrent said. “It was impossible for him to watch the game. On Twitter, he said I know Victor Vazquez scored the goal.”

Torrent said he is looking forward to a reunion with Guardiola next month when Manchester City are in New York City as part of their preseason tour. He has some scouting to do ahead of it, though. 

“Pep comes here in July [with Manchester City] in New York City. We meet again,” he said. “Maybe we spend 3-4 hours. I’m looking for a good restaurant, especially a Japanese restaurant for Pep.”

A reunion with Vazquez 

It was ironic that of all the players who could have scored the first goal against a Torrent-managed NYCFC side, it was Vazquez, who put Toronto in front in the first half with a clever chip over an onrushing Sean Johnson

Vazquez had his start at the beginning of Torrent’s run with Guardiola – with Barca B in 2007. He was part of an iconic class that graduated from the youth ranks that included Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique. 

“Believe me, when Leo speaks about Victor Vazquez he says the same, Victor was the best player in our generation,” Torrent said. “He has a lot of quality. He’s a player who scores at least 12-15 goals every single season.”

As they walked off the field at Yankee Stadium, Torrent had a chance to catch up quickly with Vazquez. 

“I spoke with him because we are friends, we share the best moments maybe with Pep Guardiola. I remember that he scored the last [goal] in Barca B with Pep Guardiola and we become champions in that moment. 

“He was a very important player for us and I wish him all the best because he’s not just a good player, he’s a good person as well.”

A shared victory 

Torrent had one training session with NYCFC before Sunday’s game and even though he did place his stamp on the 2-1 victory with a tactical adjustment at halftime, Torrent said he shares the win with former NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira. 

“Patrick was an amazing coach and he worked a lot here,” Torrent said. “They are ready and we are able to win, not for me because I trained them just one day. We are able to win for Patrick Vieira because Patrick training [two-and-a-half] years here. This win is for Patrick as well.”

A shared philosophy … mostly 

Torrent said Vieira’s team played very similarity to Manchester City and to expect his Cityzens to play “90 percent” like Vieira’s squad. 

Torrent has a shared philosophy with Guardiola – “The most important thing is when you recover the ball, if you are able to play quickly.”

That’s the overriding philosophy. But tweaks are made based on the personnel. 

“If you have Messi here, you can play different,” Torrent said. “You have [Leroy] Sane and [Christian] Pulisic for example, you can play with the wingers wide and in another way. The sport is simple. Basketball is the same. If you play with Michael Jordan, pass the ball and he decides. 

“For me, the most important thing is to find the quality of our players. They have to play comfortable, nothing changes when I say if we are not able to play quickly, keep the ball.”

Biggest surprise in MLS

Pep in his step, jazz in his soul | 10 Things about NYCFC's Dome Torrent -

Torrent says he's been surprised and pleased at the size and intensity of fan support for New York City FC and other MLS clubs. | USA Today Sports Images

Torrent knows the key players and he’ll soon learn more about the different playing styles and tendencies of his new league. But one thing that took him by surprise is the passion of the fans – especially from NYCFC supporters. 

“It’s an amazing atmosphere and a big surprise for me,” Torrent said. “The fans are amazing. I watched the last game here against Atlanta and I think the same – our fans support all the time our team and sometimes that’s the reason why we can win the game.

“When I think of MLS, OK, I think of soccer, but I don’t know the fans. It was amazing. Maybe, it's not better, but it's similar to the Premier League, believe me.”

Doing his homework 

During the two weeks he had to wait for his work visa, Torrent was in Spain. Not in Ibiza, as some fans suggested on social media, but rather at his home putting in video work for his new job. 

He watched NYCFC’s nine previous games and the last four of his first opponent, TFC. Torrent was also able to view each of the team’s training sessions in full that holdover assistants Javier Perez and Rob Vartughian ran. 

“The best way for me to do something, to do my job is with passion I have a lot of passion and then I have to convince my players they are better,” Torrent said. “The club is getting better. That is the reason I am here.”

Early impressions

In a league known, and sometimes maligned, for its parity, Torrent acknowledges there’s not a lot of differences among the teams. Each, he said, has 2-4 players with quality, citing Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio and Vazquez for Toronto FC. 

“It’s getting better. For example, I spoke about that with David Villa and David told me, ‘Oh, don’t think about that. Go here, it’s an amazing league,” Torrent said. “The [organization] is maybe as [good] as another country and every year, the MLS is better than other leagues. He has a lot of experience and when David told me, ‘Believe me, Dome, New York City is the right thing for you.”

He loves that basketball 

After soccer, of course, Torrent’s favorite sport is basketball. So it’s probably good he’s come to a city that is home to two NBA franchises – though both the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets are in an annual battle of futility. 

Torrent relishes a chance to watch NBA games in person while he’s here. But don’t expect him to weigh in on the Michael Jordan-LeBron James GOAT debate. 

“I love basketball in general,” he said. “In Japan, for example, they love these players, not the club, maybe because they are fanatics. Messi plays in Nissan, I like Nissan. Messi plays in Toyota, I like Toyota. No, I like basketball.”

Strike up the band 

A shared love with basketball for Torrent is live music, especially jazz. He said he’s even played the alto sax, but that was six years ago and he’s left the instrument back home in Spain – perhaps that’s good news to his new neighbors on the Upper West Side. 

“I love jazz music, blues music, soul,” Torrent said. “I’m looking for a place sometimes, for example, after a game we are very, very happy. OK, we need to go to the jazz club.”

When told of a potential venue, Torrent initially balked about how far it would be from his home. After a minute, it was explained to him that he had Greenwich, Connecticut confused with Greenwich Village. 

Hey, give him a break. He’s been here for less than a week.

Windy City rewind

Torrent’s first road trip as NYCFC coach comes this weekend with NYCFC taking on the Chicago Fire Saturday night at Toyota Park (8 pm ET | TV & streaming info). Chicago is actually the first United States city he visited as part of a Barcelona preseason tour and Torrent said he loved his time there. 

The match will also serve as another reunion, with Torrent having worked with Bastian Schweinsteiger at Bayern. 

“First of all, I’m very glad that he came over and made a step to Major League Soccer and he took over a great team, very smart move,” Schweinsteiger said. “First of all, he’s a good person, obviously he knows about soccer everything with Pep. … It’s great for MLS to have this kind of coach in the league. I’m glad to see him on the weekend.”