Brotherly Game) It's New York City FC's second season. The newness should have worn off by now - what are the expectations for the sophomore season, and is the team living up to those expectations thus far?
Jake Gofman, Hudson River Blue) I think the expectations that supporters had for this team coming into the season were to make the playoffs while playing a ball control offense that netted a lot of goals. When we struggled last year, a lot of it was credited (rightly so) to the constant shuffling of the squad, the lack of continuity (in defense, especially), and the addition of two of our three designated players at strange times in the season.
This season, we had the benefit of running a full training camp, had our designated players in place, and made several off-season moves to strengthen our 2015 unit, which was a dumpster fire. So far the results have been mixed and the team has struggled to find consistency. At times we have looked extremely potent on offense but have been porous in defense, other times the backline has looked strong but the offense has failed to finish.
I think the non-psychotic fans are still looking at these opening games as important to our overall strategy moving forward, even if it’s painful now. Vieira is trying a three back W-M formation and it will likely take time to get it right. Given the talent and the pedigree of DPs I think we still expect to play in the postseason. The question is if we can get the W-M to work, and how long it will take.
tBG) Will Frank Lampard ever play another match for NYCFC?
HRB) Jeez this is tough. I feel for Frank the Tank, I really do, but he went across the Atlantic and everything went wrong. He looked downright bad in the games he played last year, and the injuries continue to mount for him.
My gut says we see him in a limited capacity, mostly as a sub when he comes back. He may start a few games, but no more than five to eight this year. I think after this season he’ll be done.
The news has been bad for quite a while, with reports saying he wasn’t even training with the club. Finally, we’ve got something positive as he was spotted training with the team.
Here’s the proof: https://twitter.com/ThirdRailSC/status/723215933154701313
tBG) There is no shortage of midfielders at NYCFC - how does Patrick Vieira get everyone playing time, and how does the team deal with the rotation?
HRB) I think some injuries and the international games have helped us get players into the team, but the short answer is that it has been difficult to make everyone happy. Our first choice midfield is Andrea Pirlo, Mix Diskerud, and Tommy McNamara, and depending on how we line up, we are capable of bringing on Federico Bravo or Mikey Lopez as a central defensive midfielder in the three back system. Fans are obsessed with getting Kwadwo Poku on the field at all times, so he has come off the bench a few times.
We’re also crowded on the outside with capable wingers – Tony Taylor, Khiry Shelton, and Stiven Mendoza – Who are fighting for places on the outside.
Vieira is still looking for the players that work for his system, so I expect more changes to come.
Injuries/suspensions/etc.: No suspensions; Lampard, we mentioned above, first pick in the SuperDraft central midfielder Jack Harrison is training with the squad, while RJ Allen is back in the squad and might get a run this weekend.
Predicted starting XI: We continue to tinker with the lineup, especially on the road where we are less likely to be in the W-M. I see us back in the 4-3-3 as we were last week against the Columbus Crew SC:
Josh Saunders; Ronald Matarrita – Jason Hernandez – Frederic Brillant – Andoni Iraola; Andrea Pirlo – Mix Diskerud – Tommy McNamara; David Villa – Patrick Mullins – Khiry Shelton