When Jason Kreis was fired at the end of last season and Patrick Vieira was brought in as the new head coach, many New York City FC fans expected great things for the 2016 season.
So far those great things have yet to materialize.
While NYCFC currently sit above the red line in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, it still has been a mostly disappointing season for Vieira’s side.
They have won just one of their first nine home games, which is a problem when you consider that only two playoff teams have won fewer than seven home games since 2011.
Many people would point to the lineup choices that Vieira is making but he is mostly working with what he has.
Of course you would like to improve the center back pairing of Jason Hernandez and Frederic Brillant but from what we saw on Wednesday night, Jefferson Mena and Ethan White are not the answer. The team will need to find an upgrade from outside the organization at some point.
The midfield has to be centered around the talents of Andrea Pirlo and Vieira has tried many different combinations in order to achieve that goal. What should work best in the end is to have Federico Bravo return to the lineup when healthy to play his natural No. 6 position and have Mix Diskerud or Mikey Lopez play as a No. 8 to do most of the running. There’s also the issue of Frank Lampard’s return, but until we see how he and Pirlo truly fit together, we will not know what will work best.
The main issue for NYCFC is not the names on the teamsheet (although that is definitely a problem), but the way in which the team has been asked to play.
Playing under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and learning the craft of coaching at Manchester City, Vieira has been taught that possession is king and that playing out of the back is the way to control possession.
What he has not taken into account at NYCFC is the challenges that the size of the field poses at Yankee Stadium. Many other writers and pundits have already pointed this out but trying to play out of the back in the Bronx is a fool’s errand. Because the field is so tight, any mistake at the back puts the opponent that much closer to the goal.
But the team has insisted in playing out of the back whenever they get the chance.
NYCFC currently averages 228.60 passes in their own half per game, the second most amongst all teams in MLS.
When looking at just home games, NYC also sit in second place with 231.89 passes per game.
Clearly this strategy has not worked to their advantage. Vieira needs to change his tactics to a more direct style if his team has any chance of improving their results.