NYCFC: 2017 Season Preview

Nov 6, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York City FC pose for a photo prior to a game against the Toronto FC at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 6, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York City FC pose for a photo prior to a game against the Toronto FC at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2017 campaign is more than a week away from kick-off and it’s time to review, predict and see what changes NYCFC made for the up-coming season.

With the 2017 season nearly here and fresh faces at NYCFC, Patrick Vieira will be looking to make some adjustments. Having left the play-offs early last year, Vieira’s new goal will be to reach even further and make some history.

2016 Recap

Record: 15-9-10

Finishing Position: 2nd Place, Eastern Conference

Playoffs: Knocked out in Conference Semi-Finals

Let’s go back to 2016, where it was an exciting year for NYCFC. After it’s inaugural season in 2015, the team in the Big Apple went through a major overhaul in the coaching staff and brought in the French and Arsenal’s legendary midfielder Patrick Viera at the helm.

Coaching for NYCFC’s sister club Manchester City’s development squad, this would be Vieira’s first professional coaching job and many had raised questions. Once he came in, Vieira changed the philosophy and basically revamped the boys in blue.

His first piece of business was drafting the English youngster Jack Harrison who lived up to the hype. In eight games, Harrison scored three and was moving smoothly with Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard in the middle.

Vieira implemented a new formation to NYCFC’s system with the 4-3-3 set-up and heavily emphasized of working the ball out of the defense. He even tweaked the defensive line a bit after signing the Costa Rican left-back Ronald Matarrita which turned out to be a sensational acquisition.

He added some more international experience in the back with Maxime Chanot and Frédéric Brillant. Within his new system, Thomas McNamara thrived along with Khiry Shelton and at times Tony Taylor.

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Another big story of 2016 for NYCFC was the fall and rise of Lampard. The start of the season was shaky for the legendary midfielder as he was missing out of action for nearly six weeks without a clear cut reason. Ironically enough, his first appearance of the season came against the New York Red Bulls in that traitorous 7-0 outing.

After that however, Lampard would turn everything around not only for himself, but for his squad as well. Two weeks later, NYCFC went on a four game winning streak that would evidently give them a boost in the conference. As for Lampard, he would go onto score 11 goals in 21 games and regain the love of the NYCFC faithful.

Many players thrived in Vieira’s system, as well as club captain David Villa who had an MVP season–literally. The forward went on to win the MLS MVP award after netting 21 goals in 31 appearances.

Behind Villa’s performances and Vieira’s philosophy, NYCFC finished 2nd place in the Eastern Conference ultimately making the play-offs for the first time in club history. Despite being ousted in the second round to the hands of Toronto FC, NYCFC must look ahead in 2017.

Transfers In:

  • Sean Okoli (FC Cincinnati)
  • Sean Johnson (Atlanta United)
  • Miguel Camargo (Loan-Chorrillo Futbol Club)
  • Jonathan Lewis (2017 SuperDraft)
  • Jalen Brown (2017 SuperDraft)
  • Chris Wingate (2017 SuperDraft)
  • Michael DeGraffenriedt (2017 SuperDraft)
  • Kwame Awuah (2017 SuperDraft)
  • Alexander Callens (Numancia)
  • Alexander Ring (Kaiserslautern)
  • Yangel Herrera (Loan- Manchester City)
  • Maximiliano Moralez (Club Leon)
  • Rodney Wallace (Free Agent)
  • John Stertzer (Free Transfer)
  • Ben Sweat (Free Transfer)

Transfers Out:

  • Frank Lampard (Retired)
  • Mehdi Ballouchy (Retired)
  • Andoni Iraola (Retired)
  • Connor Brandt (option not exercised)
  • Jason Hernandez (option not exercised)
  • Diego Martinez (option not exercised)
  • Tony Taylor (option not exercised)
  • Federico Bravo (loan ended)
  • Steven Mendoza (loan ended)
  • Jefferson Mena (loan-Barcelona SC)
  • Josh Saunders (Orlando City)

Predicting Opening Line-up

Despite Vieira’s new signings and draft picks, I predict the Frenchman will go with his usual set-up with some minor changes. Upfront I have of course the club captain Villa with Harrison and Okoli on the sides. Even though Okoli is predominantly a center forward, be prepared for him to move around and bolster the attack.

In the middle, Maxi Moralez gets the nod as he was signed as the third designated player and is expected to contribute this season. He has the ability to play the middle and even move up on the attack and with Thomas McNamara having a breakout season last year, expect them to start.

We’re not even going to question Pirlo’s starting status for the opener.

In the back is a tricky subject for NYCFC and I firmly believe that Vieira will go with his usual suspects with Matarrita, Chanot, Brillant and Allen. They know his system and Vieira may want to break in his signings into the line as the season progresses.

2017 Prediction

After last season’s play-off appearance, there’s no doubt in my mind that Vieira is itching to get the record straight. From the inaugural season until now, Vieira’s philosophy change and international signings has made this NYCFC squad contenders.

Especially with the average age dropping, it’ll be interesting to see how’ll he put these youngsters in his tactics. As stated on the club website, Vieira firmly believes this is the strongest roster yet for NYCFC. And Vieira has been around strong rosters for the majority of his career.

I don’t see this NYCFC squad falling back in the Eastern Conference and Villa just keeps adapting amazingly into the MLS. Expect NYCFC to make a rather huge splash in this 2017 campaign and grab that number one spot in the Eastern Conference.

Predicted Finishing Position: 1st Place Eastern Conference.

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