BRONX, N.Y. – Domenec Torrent’s first 24 hours in New York City were chaotic, arriving from Spain Friday night once he received his work visa and running his first training session on Saturday morning.
After his first 45 minutes on the sideline Sunday at Yankee Stadium, there was nothing but clarity for New York City FC’s new boss.
With NYCFC trailing 1-0 to Toronto FC, Torrent directed his team to play quicker and made a subtle, but effective, tactical adjustment.
“We changed a little bit tactically because when our outside backs are up, the winger is inside,” Torrent said. “I prefer the winger outside and the outside back control inside. We change a little bit because Ismael [Tajouri-Shradi] played, for me – it’s my opinion – much better on the left.”
His post-match message was perhaps equally important.
“I said to them I think they are better than they think,” Torrent said. “They have more quality.”
It resonated in the NYCFC locker room.
Torrent on his debut | USA Today Sports Images
“I think he put his stamp on how he wants us to play and like he said at the end of the game, he said we’re better than we think we are. I think he’s right,” central defender Sebastien Ibeagha said. “I think we just have to have that confidence going into every single game and we’ll play the way we played against Atlanta and the second half today.”
The message wasn’t based only on 90 minutes on a humid evening at Yankee Stadium. It was from two weeks of thorough film work while he was in Spain, awaiting his visa after being hired on June 11.
He watched NYCFC’s last nine games — and Toronto’s last four — while also viewing his club’s training sessions since he was hired. Not quite the Spanish holiday some fans on social media suggested.
“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.”
Torrent said he didn’t blink when NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna and Manchester City football administration officer Brian Marwood spoke to him about being the head coach at City’s MLS sibling club.
Of course, there was comfort and familiarity at Manchester City, especially after capturing the Premier League title, the 24th trophy over the course of 11 years with Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Man City.
But the greater challenge was in the Big Apple.
“I said, ‘OK, it’s a big challenge for me and I accept the challenge,’” Torrent said. “For me, I am very proud to be part of this group, believe me. … For me, New York City is my team right now. I am very happy to be here. I love this city.”