NEW YORK – The pain of a lopsided season-ending loss to Toronto FC was still fresh in the New York City FC locker room, but so too was an appreciation and understanding of an improved effort in Year Two of the club.
A year after missing out on the postseason in their inaugural season, NYCFC finished second in the Eastern Conference, recording 17 more points in the regular season than in the previous year.
“If you take the whole year we are happy and proud,” NYCFC captain David Villa said. “It is difficult to say today after a result so bad, but we are a team only two years old. All of you know what happened in the first year. We improved a lot this year. When you are new in every sport you need to start humble with a lot of work and day by day you improve.”
Sunday’s loss to Toronto FC ended Patrick Vieira’s first season as head coach. In his introductory press conference, he talked about building an identity. The team also set a goal of making the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs, and he considers both mission accomplished.
“We wanted to be a good team, a strong team that had a clear identity of how we wanted to play the game. I think if you look at our philosophy it has been really positive,” Vieira said. “Of course, it’s not perfect, there are a lot of parts of the game we need to improve, but overall I strongly believe the team built a really strong philosophy of playing the game. We create a lot of chances, we’re scoring goals, I think we played some attractive football during the season. That is the identity I wanted to give this football club.”
While he didn’t want to speak about specific areas of improvement and there are plenty of questions – will Frank Lampard re-sign, what to do with Mix Diskerud chief among them – Vieira believes NYCFC is in good shape heading into Year Three.
“Next year its how can we be a little bit more consistent in our performance and improve some aspects of the game, but I think we are in the right way,” Vieira said.
Still, defender RJ Allen is quick to point out what many fans feel when their season ends shy of winning the MLS Cup.
“Looking back on the season we learned a lot about our group. From Year One to Year Two we definitely improved,” Allen said. “But at the end of the day we still didn’t win any silverware.”