Tag Archives: NYCFC

A little magic keeps NYCFC to a 2-2 tie in Orlando

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Saturday, New York City Football Club kicked off its 2019 season facing off in Orlando against Orlando City Soccer Club.   Since NYCFC has no true striker on its roster, fans were wondering what kind of lineup and strategy would be employed.

The back line was as expected with Anton Tinnerholm, Maxime Chanot and Alexander Callens with Ben Sweat filling out the four-man back line on the left side instead of an injured Ronald Matarrita.  In midfield were Ring, Sands, Ofori. Fan favorite Lewis with Maxi Moralez, and new Designated Player Alexandru Mitrita (“Mitri”) served as forwards.

It didn’t look like a true 4-4-2 however.  In expected Coach Dome Torrent fashion, the formation seemed less than standard and more like a 4-1-3-1-1 much of the time.

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Orlando City jumped into the game with speed and aggression taking charge of most of the possession and offense for a good portion of the first half.  NYCFC seemed much more defensive and less eager than in past seasons, to maintain possession.

The most dangerous player on the field for most of the game was OCSC’s Christopher Mueller, who along with Johnson dominated both offensively and defensively.  GK Sean Johnson made one impressive save but strangely it appeared that Sacha Klejsten, who historically gave NYCFC trouble, seemed a bit rusty and wasn’t taking shots.  It could also be that the back line was adequately prepared for his predicted style of play and took away his chances.

In a moment of “Wait, what just happened?” Midfielder Ebenezer Ofori, at the 13th minute, took NYCFC’s first shot on goal in the 2019 season and put it into the back of the net.  At the 45th minute, the lead was solidified by a banger by Alex Ring assisted by Mitri.  Despite the relative lack of possession in the first half, New York City closed out the 45 with a 2-0 lead.

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Sadly, the lead was blown in the second half by Orlando City goals scored by Mueller and Tesho Akindele.  The first Orlando goal appeared that to be savable and Johnson may have judged the ball’s path incorrectly.   The second goal was executed pretty quickly after Orlando substitutes Nani and Dom Dwyer came onto the field.

The controversial piece of the game was a handball by Chanot on a shot that was ruled by VAR not to have been a handball. To all viewers who saw the replay in slow motion, it was clearly a handball but VAR is viewed by one camera angle and in real time.  NYCFC dodged a bullet on that call and were able to finish the game level at 2-2.

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Of note, were inclusions of James Sands and Jonathan Lewis in the starting XI.  Sands played well in his first start but Lewis’ work was below expectations, considering his recent success with the US Men’s National Team. He seems to be doing a better job of getting back to provide pressure in our defensive third of the field but was generally unsuccessful in adding his usual offensive spark.

I did like what I saw in Mitri’s style of play after the first twenty minutes when he was settling in.  He’s quick, sees space very well and dishes out precise passes.  He also placed his corner kicks almost perfectly.  Dome said that he is not yet fully fit so I am looking forward to seeing the damage he can do to opponents when 100% in game form.  My takeaway is that Orlando City was the better team and deserved the win so we were lucky to get away with a point.

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Next match is the home opener against D.C. United on Sunday, March 10th. D.C. just picked up a home win off reigning MLS Champion Atlanta United. D.C. looks strong and will be a formidable opponent for NYCFC.

Will NYCFC return to its strategic standard of maintaining possession and play a more attacking lineup with players like Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Ronald Matarrita, or will we see an overall change in team tactics to defense and counter-attacking?

All images:  NYCFC

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Keaton Parks’ Unconventional Path to MLS

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

In a few days, the MLS season will kick off with New York City Football Club facing Orlando City FC on March 2nd.  A handful of new faces were brought onto the NYC roster, with quite a few being US nationals.  After our very international 2018 squad, NYCFC seems to be going in a different direction with the signings of teenaged homegrowns, Joe Scally and Justin Haak as well as acquiring 21-year-old American Keaton Parks on a loan from Portuguese top tier club SL Benfica.

Parks is an interesting acquisition as his career is an almost complete foil to those of Haak, Scally and James Sands.  Haak, Scally, and Sands all worked their way from the club system to spots in the NYCFC developmental academy.  Sands was signed by NYCFC in 2017. In an interesting aside: Sands has a twin brother Will who has committed to play for Georgetown University.  Perhaps we can check back in with both of them in say, ten years to see how their careers compare.

Parks grew up in Texas where he did not enter the DA but continued to play for Coach Armando Pelaez at various local club teams as well as for his high school. Developmental academies do not allow their players to suit up for their high school teams.  It looked like Parks would be playing next for Southern Methodist University but instead was recruited by Varzim, a LigaPro (secondary division) team out of Portugal for his first foray into professional soccer.

Those who have watched his progression, point out his high level of technicality with the ball at his feet which seems unusual for his 6’3” frame.  Parks was physically a late bloomer who learned to dominate in his early years via tight ball touches usually in the 10 role before eventually sprouting up in his junior year of high school to his current height.  This style is still at the root of his play but his post-growth-spurt size made him a better fit for a defensive midfielder position. A viewing of his highlights from Benfica B, show him physically strong, difficult to take down and a proclivity to feeding long attacking balls to the front line. It will be interesting to see how Parks’ style will fit in with New York’s other midfielders like Alexander Ring, Ebenezer Ofori, James Sands and Maxi Moralez. I’m looking forward to seeing more of these long feeder balls mixed in with City’s trademark tight touches/high possession with hopefully this new ingredient leading to more scoring.

With his unconventional rise to professional soccer, I can’t help but think of another former NYCFC player who found his way to the pros via the road less traveled:  Jack Harrison.  As many fans are aware, Harrison left the prestigious academy system in the UK for the US college route, playing for Wake Forest before quickly getting scooped up as the number one draft pick in the MLS super draft in 2016.  Harrison is currently on loan by Manchester City Football Club to English championship level club Leeds United, who are currently in contention for promotion to the premiership.

Jack Harrison, Leeds United
Jack Harrison. Photo- Leeds United Football Club

For both Harrison and Parks, their careers took them abroad early before returning to their home countries. Parks is on a loan from Benfica so if he wants to stay at NYCFC beyond the season, he’ll need to make an impression pretty quickly, which may be challenging in the crowded field of rostered midfielders.  It all begins on Saturday.

Featured Image: NYCFC

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The one where we refuse to cry “Unkel!”(NYCFC tie RBNY 1-1)

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Going into Wednesday’s game against regional rival New York Red Bulls, New York City Football Club had a few challenges: Namely 5 injured players and one red card suspension. NYCFC coach Domènec Torrent chose to utilize a 3-4-3 starting formation clearly to work around the absence of injured defender Alex Callens.

The real highlights of this drag down, dirty, chippy fight, also known as the Hudson River Derby, happen to be the reactions by NYC to the obstacles thrown at them in facing the Red Bulls this go-round. In many ways this felt like we were spectating a live action video game, one where the difficulty level for NYCFC was slowly cranked up to the “un-winnable” level:

  • Level 1- RBNY forward Bradley Wright-Phillips scores a goal in the 36th minute putting NYC down a goal.
  • Level 2- In the 39th minute midfielder Eloi Amagat, in his debut game for NYCFC, gets ejected on a straight red card for a “serious foul”. No cards had been shown to anyone prior to this.  City was now playing down a player.
  • Level 3- Goal scoring machine Ismael Tajouri-Shradi is subbed out in the second half bringing in Jo Inge Berget to replace him.  Was this tactical or is Isi hurt again?
  • Level 4- In the 51st minute, David Villa gave the fans another taste of his brilliance with a volley shot on a header pass by Berget which flew under the grasp of Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles.  Level cleared! Game tied 1-1 but Berget is subbed off 10 minutes later presumably due to an injury.
  • Level 5a- Warning: Nobody has ever gotten past this level Around the 70th minute on a breakaway foot race between Wright-Phillips and Ebenezer Ofori, the Red Bull went down on contact and refused to get up, despite lack of a call and the continued play.  When medics came on to the field to tend to him (and seemed to stay on the field, despite the teams setting up for the re-start), it was clear that Wright-Phillips was not going off the field despite no card being shown.  Fans and players were yelling for him and his medic to leave the field.  It appeared that this angered referee Ted Unkel, who then had a sudden change of heart and sent the play to VAR to be analyzed (by the universally scorned Mark Geiger).  This resulted in Ofori being issued a red card for “stomping” on Wright-Phillips’ leg.  I challenge anyone watching the replay to come to this conclusion.  It’s very hard to stomp a moving object when your eyes are focused elsewhere and you are also losing your footing.  NYCFC was now down 2 players with at least 20 minutes to go, including injury time.
  •  Level 5b- aka Adding Insult to Injury – As Ofori leaves the field, Villa expresses his displeasure with the call and is issued a yellow card.  Somehow Kemar Lawrence goes toward Villa, which Anton Tinnerholm intercepts and gets struck in the neck by Lawrence, who stunningly only receives a yellow card.
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First-row action. Image: Keira Smith

With the game seemingly out of control and all sense of right, wrong, justice and fairness eliminated,  all fans could do was stand, scream and cheer our hearts out in support of our team.  They had to know that we were with them while they played the terrible hand they were dealt.  Every play destroyed by a City defender and every attacking sequence was met by deafening roars from the crowd.  We were going to will the players to survive this battle.

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New York is Blue. Image: Keira Smith

They say a lot of things about what you learn about yourself and your supporters when you’re up against the ropes, facing your greatest challenges.  NYCFC dug deep and boy, did that tie feel like a win.

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Felt like a win. Image: Keira Smith

Images by Keira Smith

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I’m Upset: NYCFC loses to Seattle 1-3

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

In honor of my two teenagers and the young players on my favorite team, I have decided to release my NYCFC versus Seattle Sounders version of Drake’s “I’m Upset”.  It will most likely be cringe-worthy to many but it allowed me to work through my feelings of disappointment.  So thank you for humoring me.

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I’m upset
Only 3 wins on the road- it’s disrespect
Seemed wrong I know, I double-checked
Even with return of Jo Berget
Our shut-out streak had to end
I’m all verklempt
Got a lotta love for the Blue
Captain Villa, it’s kinda hard without you
Como está su rodilla?
Can’t win Cups without wins on the road
Every game New York fans expect a win
We have no stadium!
We still have 5 plus years of searching for a home
Atlanta sits up top of the chart with 47
Over in Jersey they talk a lot of trash but they’re still in 3rd.
Word to Coach Dome J- Lew finally seeing the pitch
Why the hell no Chanot?

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I’m upset
Travel 3000 miles, what’s the effect?
Dome worried about jet lag, can’t play their best
Maxi was spent
But this is MLS life
We got points to collect
So what’s next?
After an L to Seattle, what the heck?
Even with good clearances from Seb
At least Medina got one on a cross from Berget
In the end no effect
Only other offense was from Mata on the left
Where was halftime magic from Torrent?
Sean Johnson, we still love you, no disrespect
Got a lot of love for the Blue
Ring, it’s hard to win without you,
Thankful you’ll be back in the next one
Can’t win a Cup without wins on the road.

Domènec Torrent
Head Coach of NYCFC, Domènec Torrent.

Behind the lyrics

After New York City Football Club lost another match on the road to Seattle Sounders, the author/terrible rap lyricist talks about the return from injury of forward Jo Inge Berget, the continued absence of injured captain David Villa and how we still have no stadium to call our own.  In the MLS Eastern Conference,  Atlanta FC has 47 points with 23 games played, NYCFC has 43 points with 22 games played and New York Red Bulls has 41 with 21 games played.  Fans regularly express excitement that coach Dome Torrent continues to give Jonathan Lewis an important role as a “Super Sub”.

The game was about 3000 miles away from their previous game in Orlando three days prior and coach Dome expressed concern about the jet lag.  Fans noticed how unusually winded midfielder Maxi Moralez looked in the second half.

In the first half, Seattle scored two goals, yet NYC usually gets a big boost after halftime, even when they are down.  Alas, despite some strong attacking attempts and crosses by Ronald Matarrita, some good defensive clearances by Sebastien Ibeagha and a beautiful goal by Jesús Medina on a low cross by Berget, New York just couldn’t equalize.

It is also very apparent how vital to the team midfielder Alex Ring is and how deeply we felt his suspension due to yellow card accumulation.  Although I was disappointed in the loss, the team had recorded 4 shutouts prior to the loss and a great portion of the credit goes to stellar goalkeeping by Sean Johnson.  And yet, if City wants to win the MLS Cup, it’s essential that we record more wins on the road.

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Next game is home on Saturday, August 4th against the Vancouver Whitecaps.  Check out my colleagues’ coverage of the MLS All-Star Game on August 1st by following @mlsfemale on Twitter and Instagram.

Tisha Gale - NYCFC photographer/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Photographer

Images by Tisha Gale 

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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Meanwhile, up in northern California… NYCFC defeats San Jose 2-1

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Saturday, March 31st.  It was a day ripe with drama in Major League Soccer.  The state was California.  Two matches, hours apart at opposite ends of the state.  As if the day’s events were scripted. 

In the south, where celebrities and paparazzi are the blood that runs through its veins, one of the biggest personalities in soccer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his star-spangled, man-bunned debut for the LA Galaxy with the biggest bang possible.  You’ve seen the footage no doubt since Ibrahimovic’s debut basically broke Twitter for a few hours.  It definitely featured the largest lion tattoo in MLS history.

In the north country of San Jose, all signs were pointing towards a strong New York City Football Club lineup versus the San Jose Earthquakes until, dun, dun, dun, literally minutes before the game when captain David Villa was pulled from the lineup for a mysterious injury which occurred in the pre-game warm up.

This news was the cherry on top of the previous reports of defender Ben Sweat being too ill to play, Rodney Wallace being allowed extra rest from international duty, as well as continued absences of Alexander Ring and Ronald Matarrita due to injuries.  Will we ever have a full lineup? And why must we always learn about Villa’s absence in this manner? 

The lineup had some last minute changes and it did not start well for NYCFC with San Jose scoring off a corner kick in the 3rd minute.  Down 0-1 for the entire first half, NYCFC stayed patient and their chippy and hot first touches eventually calmed down.  By the 28th minute, they gained momentum by patiently keeping possession and carving out space for through passes and looking for the long crosses.  Opportunities were finding substitute striker Jo Inge Berget but he could not find the goal. 

Second half, Berget was moved left to make way for Jesus Medina to focus on the middle and for Ismael Tajouri-Shradi to move to the right flank.   At about 48:30, Maxi Moralez’s corner kick found Anton Tinnerholm who volleyed in a rocket to even out the score 1-1. 

Much is made of this beautiful shot but more credit should be given to Yangel Herrera, Ebenezer Ofori and Abdul-Salaam for keeping the defenders physically attached to them (and in Herrera’s case, being thrown to the ground), which allowed Tinnerholm to be open. And major kudos to Moralez’s brilliant vision of the situation and to his ability to give Tinnerholm a perfect ball.

The second NYCFC goal was orchestrated by Tajouri-Shradi who weaved through defenders on the right side, ultimately finding Moralez in the center to give NYCFC the 2-1 lead. 

San Jose pulled everyone up on attack whenever possible. The rest of the game belonged to goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who denied every scoring opportunity San Jose could muster. Tempers flared in the last quarter of the game about possession at the restart after a series of ugly collisions and injuries. 

After 7 plus minutes of stoppage time (aka FOREVER), when the referee finally blew the whistle, there were audible sighs of relief that the battle was over.  It was tough, gritty and physical but the beautiful moments were memorable. 

Players making 2018 debuts:

Cedric Hountondji

Gold medal for gymnastic prowess to Ebenezer Ofori for his painful looking front split.  (And for all that, he got a yellow card?)

Images courtesy: @NYCFC

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Most blocks ever for NYCFC

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

New York City FC started its season at Sporting Kansas City on a sentimental note with captain David Villa’s donning of a “Siemprequini” jersey on the walk out to the pitch- an homage to his recently deceased soccer hero and legend Enrique Castro aka “Quini”. 

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Image courtesy Keira Smith

My take on the game in 200 words

NYCFC dominated SKC for much of the game by retaining possession with movement down the wings and pressing early and hard.   We had some good luck when SKC’s early big chance at a goal was headed wide by Roger Espinoza and when three consecutive corner kicks by SKC ended up fruitless. 

It looked at that point that the game might even out until Villa fed a ball from the left across the goal where Maxi Moralez finished it.  The first half ended with a breakaway by Villa which was ultimately destroyed by SKC’s sprinting defender. 

The second half was much of the same as NYCFC dominated possession, capped off by a gorgeous sequence of a backward flick by Yangel Herrera to Ben Sweat on the left who quickly crossed it to the finisher, Jesus Medina.  Up 2-0 NYCFC kept the lead by defending well in all parts of the field, quickly doubling up pressure on SKC players.

Restarts out of the back need to be smoothed out a bit.  NY continued to pass back to Sean Johnson amongst heavy pressure from SKC. In general, however, the team looked solid.

The little details

I will make a giant leap and say definitively that NYCFC blocked more shots in this game than all previous seasons combined.  No, I don’t have the stats to back it up, I just know.

NYCFC debuts in this match: Medina, Anton Tinnerholm, Sebastien Ibeagha and Ismael Tajouri

Despite offensively dominating the match, there were some great saves by Johnson.

Awards!  In honor of the Oscars which I did not watch this year…

The oddest throwback to high school soccer moment of the match: The drop ball after the first VAR review.   

Worrisome injury of the match: Maxime Chanot and Sean Johnson both on the ground clutching their heads after the collision with SKC’s Ike Opara.  And also worrisome is the seeming lack of adherence to concussion protocol.  I mean were they even examined before being able to return to play?

Surprise of the match:  1st- How many times VAR was consulted and how long the process takes.  Hopefully, that will get faster as the season goes on. 2nd- Chanot’s first tackle in the box not being a penalty kick but the second one just outside earning him a red card.

Unsung hero of the match: Moralez.  He was everywhere on the field.  Pressing, passing, making runs. 

Award for most absurd yellow card:  (tie) Medina and Johnson both for “delaying restart”.

Mother of God! moment of the match:  The back passes to Johnson to restart out of the back that came in a bit hot in the first half.

Extra time:

Thoughts for the home opener versus LA Galaxy.  Who will be in our starting defensive line now that Chanot is out?

And why does the word “Brujo” seem to have only positive connotations but “Bruja” mostly negative?  Asking for a friend.

Featured image courtesy: NYCFC Facebook

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NYCFC predictions 2018

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Trees were uprooted, ice and snow swirled, barges on the Hudson River came loose from their anchors and careened down the Hudson River.  It was Friday’s anticipatory MLS 2018 Bombogenesis to kick off the season.  In most of MLS territory, we start the season with vicious weather and we end that way. 

So, as the season kicks off for NYCFC in literally minutes against Sporting Kansas City, I will share my very non-scientific but loosely intuitive predictions for the NYCFC season.  (An aside: Anyone else do the Myers-Briggs personality assessment?  Fun self assessment.  I recall I was an INFJ.  But I digress…)

Ten things that may or may not happen in 2018:

1- I say this first so fans can savor every moment, even the bad ones: This will be the last season for David Villa and head coach Patrick Vieira.  I think Villa will stay and run his youth academies in the US, perhaps shuttling back and forth to Europe.  All conventional wisdom states that Vieira will be offered a team to manage in Europe. He’ll stay the full NYCFC season but this will be it.    

2- Maxime Chanot will be injured again relatively early in the season putting Cedric Hountondji and Sebastien Ibeagha into the mix, more fiercely competing for time at center back. 

3- Striker Jo Inge Berget will recover from his injury and score a few goals and draw a few fouls.  He’ll give Villa a bit of a rest in physical games.  (He’s a Viking!) He will become a fan favorite.

4- Villa and Jesus Medina will have some chemistry pains for the first few months with which fans will be frustrated.  They’ll get into a groove but Wallace and/or Matarrita will leave for international matches for Costa Rica changing the lineup a bit. 

5- Ebenezer Ofori will quickly get playing time and make a positive impact at midfield with his quick pace.  Sort of the opposite of Andrea Pirlo.

6- This one is my wildest: Goalkeeper Sean Johnson will have a mild injury and backup keeper Brad Stuver will be in for three to four games due to his good showing in training and the preseason. (See, it wasn’t useless) However, Johnson will come back in full form. 

7- There will be terrible calls against our defense by the referees, with continued resistance throughout the league to VAR but it will be used more often than last season. 

8- Rivals New York Red Bulls will not be an issue this year.  Most of the NYCFC players with PTSD from prior losses to them are gone, so the psychological factor is removed.  We will defeat them twice and tie once.

9- Our biggest challenges in opponents will be Atlanta United and Toronto FC.  Both LA Galaxy and LAFC will give us good matches with strong play.  We will lose to a weaker team like Minnesota United or San Jose Earthquakes.

10- Sorry guys, but I don’t predict that we will win the MLS Cup. This league makes it almost impossible to predict the winner but my money would be on Atlanta. 

Enjoy every moment of this season as if it’s our last.  And bundle up.  For most of us, it’s cold out there.

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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

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Spring on the Horizon and SuperDraft

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

When it’s mind-numbing and skull-crushingly cold, I always look to the prospect of spring to give me hope.  I can easily conjure up the smell of thawing soil and the sight of our New York City FC players slipping on the overwatered turf in just about every second half of every home match at the Stadium, especially on the grass that covers the Yankee stadium infield.

These thoughts of greenery keep me going through the white, grey and black of January and February.  As NYCFC fans we have roughly two months until our season opener in Kansas City on March 4th.  

Things are far from frozen with our club, especially with our new DP Jesus Medina arriving in New York last week.  The young Paraguayan with the wicked left foot checked out his new home and future NYCFC training facilities, although they were covered in snow. I am sure he had to use some of the imagination and creativity we hope to see on the pitch.  It will be interesting to see how his offensive strengths, he scored 17 goals in 74 appearances for Club Libertad, will gel with Villa, Harrison, Wallace, and Moralez.   

We also recently acquired Anton Tinnerholm and Saad Abdul-Salam to firm up our defensive line.  We still seem to be lacking a definitive Center Back outside of Chanot but it seems Coach Vieira will have plenty of options and combinations to try albeit with a lot of new faces.  Rumors of the addition of Yaya Touré have been quashed, at least for now, with the addition of Medina.  Many are still hoping that some creativity can bring Yaya here as a non-DP – I guess we will have to wait and see. Personally, I am not sure how that would work. 

While there isn’t any actual soccer until NYCFC’s first preseason friendly in Mexico on February 13th versus Club Atlético de San Luis, closer on the horizon is the MLS SuperDraft, which starts on Friday 1/19.  Remember 2016, when Jack Harrison was the #1 pick in the SuperDraft? I am happy to announce that I will be reporting to you from Philly at this year’s SuperDraft on 1/19. Follow me on instagram @keirams

Excitement seems to be building for the new secondary kit.  The players were traveling to Abu Dhabi this week for an “exciting Etihad NYCFC video project”. Perhaps this project is tied to the release and marketing of the new kit.  I loved the inaugural all black secondary kit, let’s say I didn’t hate the more recent “swirly jersey” – but I am still looking forward to its replacement.   

So until next time when we talk even more about SuperDraft,- adiós! 

Peace, love, soccer.

Extra time:

Without the use of Google, who can tell me the name of the team who drafted Jack Harrison in 2016?  Be the first one to tweet me the correct answer and I will send you an NYCFC prize/tchotchke.  (This is the honor system, I trust you!)

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The Pirlo Problem

C.M. Brandon - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official New York City FC Reporter

By C.M. Brandon @lukacharms

Saturday, April 8: 2-1 loss

While I was on my way to San Jose to watch the Seattle Sounders bottle their lead in the 90th minute, DC United got their revenge on New York City FC.

I kept up with the match in live time as best I could via Twitter, and honestly? It felt a bit like the olden days of supporting NYCFC.

That isn’t necessarily a good thing.

From a first half filled with possession and chances but no actual finesse on the finish to disastrous defensive blunders in the second half, it was vintage NYCFC at its worst. I’ve now watched and rewatched the error between Maxime Chanot and Frederic Brillant that led to DC United’s first goal upwards of twenty times, trying to figure out where the communication breakdown between defenders occurred. My ultimate conclusion: It never existed in the first place, and that’s the crux of the problem.

Ethan White, who’s been a phenom for NYCFC’s defense in his last three starts, was inexplicably benched for Brillant. Now, do I think that switch alone was what doomed the boys in blue? Not at all. Club over players, always. The team was low-energy, and to lay that blame at the feet of whoever is sitting at right-back would be foolish at best.

When Tommy McNamara was substituted on at the hour mark, I know I wasn’t the only one waiting for his patented brand of McMagic. After all, it worked last time, didn’t it? Unfortunately there’s one huge difference between this match and last week’s comeback. Last time, T-Mac took the place of Andrea Pirlo.

Again: I refuse to ever pin the result of a team on one player, for better or for worse. Even if someone’s a superstar or a total flop, it does a disservice to the rest of the team to only laud or blame one member. Pirlo is not the problem for NYCFC.

But he is most certainly a problem.

Even with Tommy’s presence, NYCFC’s pace still left a lot to be desired. After a sloppy giveaway in midfield from Pirlo, DC United scored their second goal of the afternoon. Alex Ring does an admirable job covering Pirlo for the most part, but he shouldn’t have to do it for the full ninety minutes of every match. Leaving Pirlo exposed for a moment shouldn’t mean we’re open for such an aggressive counter-attack. It was messy, frustrating, and somehow exactly what I expected.

The tempo of the game changed palpably just one minute later when Pirlo was subbed off for Khiry Shelton and for the first time all match, NYCFC looked alive. David Villa managed to carve out one goal not long after that, and they never stopped looking for an equalizer, but by that point it was too late.

For next week’s match against Philadelphia Union, I want to see a different midfield from NYCFC. It’s clear that unless the team is structured around him, Pirlo is more of a liability for NYCFC than anything else. I just want to see what we’d look like with him being rested. Just for one match. Just this once. Please.

No random thoughts this time, as only being able to watch a 20 minute highlight reel doesn’t give me much to work with, but I will leave you with this: My wonderful girlfriend Amanda joked about watching the match and writing a report for me. She doesn’t watch MLS, but she is incredibly insightful about football and approximately a thousand times funnier than I am. I didn’t expect her to actually follow through on that threat, but she did — with six pages and over 1700 words of notes. They’re all hysterical, but in the end this one bit sums up the match and my recap better than I ever could:

#cm

Until next week!

Featured image courtesy: @NYCFC

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