Tag Archives: Claudio Reyna

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  So much change in fact, that each time I wrote something, it was outdated before I finished.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

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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NYCFC Signs Center Back Cedric Hountondji

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Just as the ink was drying in my last column lamenting our lack of a definitive center back comes today’s news.  (It’s as if they heard me!)

New York City FC today announced the signing of Cedric Hountondji.  Hountondji comes to us most recently from Gazelec Ajaccio, a Ligue 2 team in Corsica.  He previously played at Chateauroux, Auxerre, and Rennes and has taken the pitch internationally for both France and Benin.

As many have discussed, the club had been seeking a more (literally) sizable presence in central defense.  Last season, Maxime Chanot played a pivotal role in anchoring the defense but an injury took him out at the end of the season.  23-year-old Hountondji is listed as 6’5”, making him the second tallest player in MLS, behind the 6’7” Axel Sjoberg of the Colorado Rapids. 

Full disclosure, there are seven other players in the league who are also listed as 6’5” but still, it’s rare.  Head coach Patrick Vieira called Hountondji “a strong player who is dominant aerially and physically” and his addition to the team will give him more options “to strengthen our back four”. 

Sporting director Claudio Reyna summarized the attractiveness of this acquisition most succinctly in describing Hountondji as “a tall, athletic defender with a very good understanding tactically on how we want to play and will adapt with how we want to defend as a unit.” Two other strengths worth highlighting, according to Reyna, are that he can “compete for a place to play” which we know is critical to playing for Vieira and he “will be able to adapt to MLS”. Hountondji joins other recent defensive acquisitions Saad Abdul-Salaam and Anton Tinnerholm

Hountondji is the club’s fifth offseason signing, joining Jesus Medina, Brad Stuver, Abdul-Salaam, and Tinnerholm.  Seeking out young international players with their best years ahead of them is definitely the strategy that the club is utilizing. 

My two cent observation: Our team seems to gel when we have at least two Francophones in the defensive line and at least two Spanish speakers attacking up front. 

Extra time-

And the winner of the SuperDraft trivia question was Twitter handle @bellenbaum with Chicago Fire as the team who drafted Jack Harrison in 2016.  We had many correct answers but he was first to respond.

Featured image courtesy: @NYCFC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @keiramunsmith

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale