NEW YORK – The campaign may have started in March, but it’s starting to feel like a brand new season is about to get underway for New York City FC.
As the pain of an 11-game winless streak begins to subside amidst four wins in the last five games, more good news has hit the Bronx in the form of additions Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo. Two of the most decorated midfielders of their generation are joining the expansion side over the coming days and weeks, joining the likes of Spain national team legend David Villa.
The talent expected to be on the field is undeniable, and expectations surrounding the club are at an all-time high.
“I’m fortunate enough to have played against many great players, and I have to say that David [Villa] and Andrea [Pirlo] are right at the top of that list,” Lampard said in his introductory press conference on Tuesday afternoon. “Both of them are players that I’ve admired from afar and an absolute joy to play with. I didn’t realize it would happen at this stage in my career. I’m a lucky man to be in the same squad as them.”
Now past the halfway point of the season, there is understandable concern as to how quickly these new, marquee acquisitions can integrate themselves into the team. Just don’t count NYCFC head coach Jason Kreis among those losing sleep over how quickly the veterans will fit in.
“I don’t think you necessarily need to work on anything with players like that,” Kreis said. “We can talk a little bit about the tactics of how the team is trying to play, we can talk about the players around them and how they can help those players with communication and organization. But I’m not concerned at all with the relationship between guys at that level.”
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Boasting three different UEFA Champions League winners through the heart of the squad, Kreis is now tasked with making it all work. The long-time MLS coach insists that not much will change tactically, although some players might be asked to cover a bit more ground than they have been of late.
“You work with an entire group; you don’t necessarily break it down to the individual players and say that because this player is a little bit older we can’t play the same way," Kreis said. "We absolutely can. It might mean some other players do a bit more than they have at the moment, but that’s a good thing.
“It’s been my big feeling that this team has needed some bigger players right up the middle of the team. By adding players like Lampard and Pirlo, what we’re going to see is players like [Ned] Grabavoy and [Andrew] Jacobson and [Mix] Diskerud and [Mehdi] Ballouchy are going to get better.”