Despite 2015 being New York City’s inaugural season in MLS, they will still be disappointed with their final position, given the quality of players they had in their squad. So much so, it cost head coach Jason Kreis his job and he was replaced by Patrick Vieira in November. Building a successful team isn’t something that happens overnight and NYCFC fans will have to continue to be patient, but they will be hoping that after a year-long bonding session, the players will be able to repay them with a more productive and memorable 2016 campaign.
Last season’s finish:
Eastern Conference – Position: 8th – P34 – W10 – D7 – L17
What needs to change this year?
There are numerous areas that require significant improvement for New York City going into 2016. Before the season, it seemed they were a little top heavy, and so it proved. They didn’t struggle to score goals and finished as the sixth highest scorers in MLS. However, defensively, it simply wasn’t good enough. They conceded 58 goals, giving them the worst defensive record in MLS alongside Toronto and Chicago Fire, so they need to drastically improve at the back. They also need to concentrate for the full 90 minutes, as letting in late goals was definitely their Achilles heel. They conceded 11 goals in the last ten minutes of games, six of which cost them either victory or a draw. In total, those late goals cost them eight points. Another blindingly obvious area for improvement is the amount of losses. They suffered 17 defeats and only Chicago Fire lost more games than them. Of those 17 losses, 11 of them were by just a single goal, so if they can turn tight defeats into draws, they’d certainly be in a better position.
Key changes to squad:
Ins: Ethan White – Defender, Ronald Matarrita – Defender, Diego Martinez – Defender, Frederic Brillant – Defender, Jack Harrison – Midfielder, Mikey Lopez – Midfielder, Federico Bravo – Midfielder
Outs: Chris Wingert – Defender, Kwame Watson-Siriboe – Defender, Jeb Brovsky – Defender, Pablo Alvarez – Midfielder, Shay Facey – Defender, Javier Calle – Midfielder, Sebastian Velasquez – Midfielder, Ned Grabavoy – Midfielder
David Villa – Forward – The ex-Spain international led by example last season. An impressive return of 18 goals and eight assists from 30 appearances showed that he’s still got what it takes. New York City will need him to be firing on all cylinders once again in 2016 if they’re to make the playoffs. He was the fourth highest goalscorer in MLS last season and he’s sure to have one eye on a Golden Boot award this time around. With the support of world-class midfielders Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo from the beginning of the season, he could be even more lethal.
One to Watch:
Jack Harrison – Midfielder – The young Englishman was once part of Manchester United’s youth academy. He was a number one pick by Chicago Fire in this year’s MLS SuperDraft before being traded to New York City for general allocation money, who were clearly keen to land the promising 19 year old. He was just 14 when he took a leap of faith to join Berkshire School in Massachusetts. He’s impressed during his five years in the USA with spells at Manhattan Soccer Club and Wake Forest University, which eventually led to him being selected as number one pick at the draft. He will be desperate to get a chance to show what he can do in 2016.
Eastern Conference – 6th – New York City will be desperate to make a push for the playoffs this year and there’s more than enough potential in the squad to make a case for why they may just do so. There’s been an overhaul of defensive players as they attempt to put right all that went wrong for them last year. Chris Wingert, Shay Facey, Jeb Brovsky, Javier Calle and Kwame Watson-Siriboe are all defensive players that featured regularly for New York in 2015 and they have all departed. Coming in to help stabilise the back line, they have Ethan White from Philadelphia Union and Frederic Brillant from Oostende, as well as young full back’s Diego Martinez and Ronald Matarrita. If the defensive unit can click, then New York City could be a different animal in 2016.
What are you expecting from New York City in 2016?