BRONX, N.Y. — While Patrick Vieira was mum on his future, the final scenes of New York City FC’s 1-1 draw with Atlanta United had all the feel of his swan song as NYCFC coach. 


Vieira and NYCFC captain David Villa hugged after the final whistle, with the NYCFC captain’s message of “Thank you for everything” picked up by the YES Network microphone Vieira wore during the match. 


Vieira seemed to be soaking in the moment, slowly strolling around the Yankee Stadium field, waving at fans before entering the third base dugout. 


All that was missing, it seemed, was definitive word from Vieira to back up the reports out of France that claim he was set to become the next coach of OGC Nice with this being his final game as NYCFC coach. 


Before taking questions from the media in a post-match press conference, Vieira quickly interjected, requesting the subject matter be about the game only. 


“Before you guys [start] asking me questions, I just want to talk about the game — nothing else,” Vieira said. “So please, I hope that you will understand it and let’s just talk about the game – nothing else.”


If this was his last game in charge of NYCFC, it is clear the strides the club has made since his arrival from the Manchester City Elite Development Squad following NYCFC’s inaugural season under Jason Kreis. 


The team has made incremental improvements year over year to the point that they are considered MLS Cup contenders in only their fourth year. 


“You can see on the field, we are a strong team,” Villa said. “We can lose, because this is soccer … but finally we have identity. You see the team. We can win, we can lose, we can draw, but you see the identity of the team, you see how strong the team is. This is the most important for us.”


Once that identity is formed and continues to get fostered, Villa said, it is bigger than any individual within the club – from the team’s president, to the coach, to even him. 


“One day I’m leaving and the people say, ‘Oh, sorry’ because David Villa is leaving, coming in is another striker who scores a lot of goals and then ‘Thank you for David leaving,’” Villa said. “This is soccer, it’s normal.”