2020 Season Preview: New York City FC

With another coaching change ... NYCFC juxtapose great roster continuity with another new boss. 

NYCFC return most key players from last season's top Eastern Conference side, with Ronny Deila taking over as head coach for Dome Torrent. The former Celtic boss takes his run at guiding the Cityzens to glory and he started on the right foot with successful advancement to the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals.

2019 Finish

  • MLS Reg. Season: 64 points (18W-6L-10D), 1st in East / 2nd overall
  • MLS Cup Playoffs: Eliminated in Eastern Conf. Semifinal (vs. Toronto FC)
  • U.S. Open Cup: Eliminated in Quarterfinals (vs. Orlando City)

Star players

  • Maxi Moralez — One of the league's best players, Moralez was MLS's assist king last year with 20 helpers. What will 2020 have in store?
  • Heber — Signed under minimum fanfare, it didn't take long for Heber to make his mark in MLS. The Brazilian hit 15 goals in 22 appearances in his debut campaign with the club. 
  • Alexander Ring — Despite playing in a huge market, Ring seems to be underrated on a national level. The indefatigable central midfielder is a constant positive presence in the center of the field.

Extratime Analysis: NYCFC

Key acquisitions and departures

  • IN: Gudmundur Thorarinsson — An Icelandic international left back, Thorarinsson arrives as Ben Sweat departs to keep the squad deep and talented. 
  • IN: Gedion Zelalem — The former Arsenal top prospect returned to MLS last season but didn't get consistent minutes with Sporting KC. He continues his career with NYCFC, comfortable in the club's possession-based ethos. 
  • OUT: Ben Sweat — Off to Inter Miami for their expansion season, the left back made 72 appearances with NYCFC over three seasons.

Projected Starting XI

2020 Roster

  • Goalkeepers (3): Luis Barraza, Sean Johnson, Brad Stuver
  • Defenders (9): Alex Callens, Maxime Chanot, Tayvon Gray, Sebastien Ibeagha, Ronald Matarrita, James Sands, Joe Scally, Gudmundur Thorarinsson, Anton Tinnerholm
  • Midfielders (7): Justin Haak, Maxi Moralez, Keaton Parks, Alex Ring, Tony Rocha, Juan Pablo Torres, Gedion Zelalem
  • Forwards (6): Valentin Castellanos, Heber, Gary Mackay-Steven, Jesus Medina, Alexandru Mitrita, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi

Armchair Analyst: Strengths and weaknesses

  • Strength: Cohesion. By our count they brought back their 13 best/most important players and 92% of their on-field minutes last year, which should generate the type of year-over-year chemistry most MLS teams can only dream of. If that’s worth, say, five or six points a year, that should move NYCFC to within sight of 70 points and legitimate contention for the Supporters’ Shield – potentially their first-ever piece of hardware.
  • Weakness: Cohesion. Yeah they returned the vast majority of their roster but… not their coach? The last time NYCFC tried that – when they replaced Patrick Vieira with Dome Torrent – it led to a 25-game “slump” and resulted in a finished product that was maybe not as effective as what had come before it. New boss Ronny Deila is saying all the right things about not fixing what’s not broken, but anybody who follows sports has heard that line before.

Predictions

  • Ben Baer: 5th in East
  • Marcelo Balboa (Univision): 4th in East
  • Calen Carr: 1st in East
  • Charlie Davies: 1st in East
  • Matt Doyle: 3rd in East
  • Kristian Jack (TSN): 6th in East
  • Frederic Lord (TVA Sports): 1st in East
Series: