Claudio Reyna -- close up -- NYCFC
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NYCFC's Claudio Reyna addresses Torrent's performance, USL affiliate plans

BRONX, N.Y. — Their form late in the regular season hasn’t been very good, but the expectations heading into the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs remain high for New York City FC

The Cityzens have just one win in their last eight games as they head to Audi Field Sunday to meet an in-form D.C. United in the U.S. capital (3 pm ET | TV & streaming info). But NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna holds the job coach Dome Torrent has done since arriving midway through the season in high regard. 

After 11 years as Pep Guardiola’s assistant coach at FC Barcelona, Bayern Munich and most recently Manchester City, Torrent came aboard after Patrick Vieira left to coach OGC Nice in Ligue 1. Torrent had to quickly adjust to a new team, new league and a new city, and Reyna doesn’t think he gets enough credit for navigating that upheaval.

“It’s been really good,” Reyna said. “It’s been underestimated how difficult it is to transition into first of all a new country and life, and then take over a team in the middle of the season. I’ve been very happy with it, because you’re coming to a new everything after being 11 years also in a different role as a coach.”

Torrent got off to a white-hot start with wins in five of his first six games, and NYCFC looked like a favorite to win MLS Cup. They notched just two more victories in his next 11 games, however, with Torrent tweaking his lineup and formation due to a host of injuries and international call-ups. 

Dome Torrent | USA Today Sports Images

NYCFC emerge from a three-week hiatus still in third place in the Eastern Conference, but just three points in front of the surging Philadelphia Union, with the sides set to meet on Decision Day presented by AT&T at Yankee Stadium.

“He’d be the first to admit there’s been some games we probably could have played better, but he’s addressing it,” Reyna said of Torrent. “We’ve been kind of dealt a strange schedule in terms of the amount of time off and then back playing three games, so that’s been something to manage that’s unique for him. But overall the players are very committed and he’s really happy with the group.”

Reyna also credits Torrent with giving his blessing to allow some of the team’s youngest players, Jonathan Lewis and James Sands, to go on short-term USL loans to get much-needed minutes that have been tough to come by in MLS. 

The ideal situation for NYCFC would to have their own second team in the USL, but Reyna said that’s likely three years away — at the earliest. 

“We are always talking about it, but I think we need to be patient with what direction we do, especially when we’re investing in money and there’s cost that goes into a commitment from NYCFC to a second team,” Reyna said.

“We’re exploring it. … The good thing is on the soccer side we and I have great relationships with a lot of USL coaches and I think looking at year by year, next year we’ll be able to provide opportunities for our players and the year after that likely as well.”