Tag Archives: Ben Sweat

Movin’ Out, NYCFC’s Song

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

The MLS off-season is in effect and change is afoot for New York City Football Club.  So much change in fact, that each time I wrote something, it was outdated before I finished. As of Wednesday, here are the big takeaways:

After a disastrous MLS conference semi-final result and some apparent soul searching by Head Coach Domènec Torrent, the team was once again left at the altar by their manager.  The rumor mill is full of theories about why Torrent left with most of them circling around his apparent frustration with the tight purse strings of City Football Group and lack of urgency in moving on targeted player acquisitions. Recent rumors about Torrent’s future hint that, despite his prior frustration with MLS’s schedule and team travel restrictions, he has not ruled out coaching another team in the league.

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According to a report from The Mirror out of Britain, City Football Group are looking to hire Giovanni van Bronckhorst as Head Coach for NYCFC in 2020 as a means to prove he’s an appropriate successor to Pep Guardiola as manager of Manchester City. The Mirror reports that Van Bronckhorst has spent time in New York City and Melbourne – home of sister club Melbourne City FC – in recent months. This has not been announced by the club however, and in fact there is no  head coach listed on NYCFC’s site.

Another huge departure that may speak volumes about the state of the club is Claudio Reyna, Sporting Director, who announced his departure to take the same role for expansion club Austin FC. Reyna has been with the club from Day 1 and has been the face of stability for the team. David Lee, formerly Technical Director, has been promoted from within the organization to Sporting Director.

In other departure news, Ben Sweat was selected in the expansion draft by Inter Miami CF. Sweat is from Florida and it should be a good move for him to potentially earn more playing time, as it became clear through this past season that Ronald Matarrita was the left back of choice for NYCFC.

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Keaton Parks’ loan from SL Benfica is officially over on 12/31.  It’s to be seen whether he will be back to Portugal in the new year or whether the club will attempt to negotiate new terms for him.

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In signings news, Tony Rocha, who became a reliable substitute midfielder, renewed his contract with the club. The club also signed Tayvon Gray, a homegrown 17 year old from the club’s academy, who is the first player from the borough of the Bronx.  Gray is a defender with potential to play a variety of positions.  He played a large role in the back line on the club’s U-19 team who were the first club to win back to back US Development Academy National Championships.

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Tayvon Gray. Image courtesy of @NYCFC

The amount of change does beg the question about the future of the club and how seriously the ownership, City Football Group, actually takes the league and the franchise. It is best summed up by NYCFC fan Coco Kerridge:

“I think it’s fair to say there’s a lot of uncertainty around NYCFC’s next season. On the one hand, we had our best regular season to date: record points, record goals, and top of the East. On the other, we have still failed to really excel in any competition. With the coach changes, and the added pressure of CCL, it’s very hard to predict where we will be this time next year. Then again, we have a strong squad who will hopefully continue to make us proud and play their hearts out. I’m looking forward to seeing what the offseason will bring, and to get right back to cheering on our boys in blue!”

This one is dedicated to Sylvana Budesheim.

Featured and other images: NYCFC

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You gotta have depth: NYCFC tops Montréal Impact 2-0

Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

After an inconsistent start to the 2019 season, New York City Football Club appears to have found their groove with a 2-0 win over Montreal Impact.  The victory was, in part, due to solid play by the misunderstood Ben Sweat and smart strategy by the often-maligned Head Coach Dome Torrent.

Prior to this match, it looked like City had found a solid starting lineup:

 

However, injuries to Alexandru Mitrita, James Sands, and Ronald Matarrita suddenly made the team’s chances versus Montréal less certain.

Team depth, particularly in the midfield, paid off big time as Ben Sweat stepped up his game and executed his wingback role beyond expectations and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi returned to his starting position of right wing.

Tajouri-Shradi, one of 2018’s top team scorers, has not been consistently in the lineup, which was sparking questions from many fans.  The biggest cause for concern prior to this match was the injury of defensive powerhouse James Sands and how the team would fill in for his strength and consistency.

And in the end Torrent chose to go with a 3-4-3 just as certain adept fans so accurately predicted.

The depth of the team and the adherence to a strategy of ironically “widening the field” (you know, since we have such a narrow home pitch?) and playing the majority of attacking sequences down the flanks ultimately were the doom of the Impact.

With this ball and player pattern, Montreal had no idea who to cover and how to predict the play, particularly in the second half.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if this winning strategy was more effective on the road and the team ended up more successful on the road than at home? Is this likely? Probably not, but it would make things very interesting.

With goals scored by Moralez (6′) and Tajouri-Shradi (49′), the team demonstrated depth in offensive prowess and the ability to generate goals without Designated Player Mitrita and despite striker Héber having a rare non-productive outing.

Also worth noting is that the Impact generated a few first half goal scoring chances but NYCFC’s back line of Sebastien Ibeagha, Alexander Callens and Maxime Chanot ultimately were consistent in their defense.

Tajouri-Shradi photo credit to NYCFC
Tajouri-Shradi dropping the hammer

Next up, NYCFC has three challenging games on the road: LA Galaxy on 5/11, Chicago Fire on 5/25 and Columbus Crew on 6/1 before returning home to host FC Cincinnati on 6/6.

I would anticipate that Coach Torrent will continue to utilize a formation with wingbacks, either with or without Sands.  Will this formation be as useful on the narrow home pitch? As of now, City is unbeaten over the past 6 games, but the matchup against the LA Galaxy will be a true test of this apparent upward momentum.

Featured Image:  NYCFC.com

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And the youth will carry us. US Men’s National Team draws with Peru 1-1

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Tuesday, October 16: 1-1 Draw

I have to admit that many of my past experiences watching and cheering for the United States Men’s National Team have left me feeling unfulfilled.  Let down. Even sad. For me, the big draw to checking out this week’s friendly between the United States and Peru was the unique opportunity to see two New York City Football Club defenders face off.  It was Ben Sweat for the US and Alexander Callens representing Peru in similar roles for their respective teams.

After watching the match multiple times, my biggest takeaway is that I am actually optimistic about the future of our men’s team.  The game ended in a 1-1 draw and Peru had more possession, however, there were many moments of beautiful soccer involving some of our youngest players on the team.

The US did a great job of forcing turnovers in the middle third and immediately starting speedy counterattacks involving some combination of teenagers Timothy Weah, Josh Sargent, and Jonathan Amon working tightly with Kellyn Acosta. Weah, Sargent, and Amon all have day jobs with European clubs alongside injured US teammate Christian Pulisic.

I may be overenthusiastic about this, perhaps because my expectations were pretty low,  but there were true flashes of beauty from these players.  Obviously, the more experience they get playing as a unit, the better the national team will become.  Another player who stood out was Marky Delgado, who is still relatively young at 23.

Both Peru and the US seemed to do the majority of their attacking down the right flank, which meant that Ben Sweat and Alexander Callens were involved with most of the game.  Sweat did a fine a job in left back while most likely battling some nerves.  Notable to me was his speed in getting back to destroy plays but he seemed to choose the back pass a bit too often for my liking and made a few poor tackles which did little to decelerate some of Peru’s attacks.

Ben Sweat should get another look in that role to see if he can be more decisive in his tackles and capitalize more on his offensive capabilities as well.  He did have one respectable shot on goal in this match.   Callens played in a center-left back role and as expected, used his physical strength to outmuscle US attacks down the right side.  It’s interesting to watch his play “from the other side” as it looks a bit less smooth with his national team and he can be a bit late with his tackles which lead to at least one foul.

One other takeaway for me that I am proud of:  Peru was constantly playing to draw fouls, falling over with the slightest contact, banging the ground and writhing in pain.  For most of the game, the US team players would immediately jump up if they hit the ground to keep an attack going or would fight to stay vertical in a duel.  To me, it was a sharp contrast of styles and it’s the style that keeps the game moving and makes it more fun to watch.

I was not expecting to walk away from this game excited for the future of the US Men’s National Team and yet with all these talented young yet experienced players, I have hope.

Featured image: @ussoccer_mnt

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