2018 Key Transfers: New York City FC

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we will be running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at New York City FC and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

New York City FC had an impressive 2017 season, finishing second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve continued to build and improve since their inception into the league. They fell short at the conference semifinal stage of the playoffs for the second year in a row last season and they will now be looking to go one better in 2018. Some key players have departed the club and while the players they have signed might not be overly familiar to the masses, they look likely to make a positive impact.

Key Signings

Saad Abdul-Slaam: NYCFC have chosen to bolster their defensive options with the signing of Saad Abdul-Salaam. The right back comes in from SKC having played second fiddle last season, making just 12 appearances. He has experience of playing, and losing, in an MLS Cup final. This will be his fourth MLS season and this looks to be a good pick-up for Patrick Vieira’s side.

Jesus Medina: A new attacking midfielder who comes in for New York City to help the squad rebuild after some big names have departed. Jesus Medina has been signed as a DP and is a versatile option as he can also play on the wing. He’s known for a quick change of pace and footwork which have given him a reputation as a creator. That is something NYCFC are going to need considering both Andrea Pirlo and Jack Harrison have departed. At 20 he’s been signed for the long-term. One to watch…

Ismael Tajouri: Another young, versatile signing for NYCFC. 23 year old Ismael Tajouri is predominately a right winger can also play as a second striker. Vieira has sung his praises, speaking of his ‘power, pace and skill’ in one-on-one situations. With his ability to play in more than one attacking role it looks to be a signing with promise, similarly to Medina, to help fill the void left by big name departures.

Notable Departures

Andrea Pirlo: There isn’t much to be said that people don’t know about Pirlo and he is going to be a huge loss for NYCFC. He made a total of 60 appearances for the club, scoring once. Pirlo will go down in the history books as a designated player who was part of the first ever NYCFC squad in their inaugural season. His experience will be extremely hard to replace but now it’s time for Vieira’s side to build for the future, while Pirlo is set to enjoy retirement after a stunning career that’s seen him do it all.

Jack Harrison: This is a departure that NYCFC fans will be disappointed about. Jack Harrison has left for partner club Manchester City and has since gone on loan to Middlesbrough in the Championship. Harrison had a very impressive 2017, scoring ten goals in 34 games and he is going to be another player who is difficult to replace.

RJ Allen: NYCFC have said goodbye to another face who has been there from the beginning of their MLS journey. RJ Allen played 53 games for the club but has been traded to Orlando, to join forces with former NYCFC head coach Jason Kreis. He made 15 appearances in 2017, but only really established himself as a regular in the 2016 season. A good move for both player and club based on that, however he is still going to be a miss.

Mikey Lopez: Another midfielder who is moving on, Mikey Lopez will take plenty from his time at NYCFC. Learning from the likes of Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo put any midfielder in good standing to build on and now at 24 the time is right for him to look to push his career forwards. He made 27 appearances during his two-year spell at the club.

Khiry Shelton: Big things were expected from Khiry Shelton back in 2015 when he was the No.2 overall pick in the SuperDraft, but he has been unlucky with injuries that have lead to his progress being a little stifled. However, he has shown form in stages to suggest the excitement around his name is justified. He moves on the SKC having scored six goals and a further ten assists in his 54 appearances in the hope of locking down a more regular role that a clean bill of health should allow him to do.


NYCFC losing Jack Harrison to Man City in £4m deal ahead of loan move to Middlesbrough

Jack Harrison’s time with New York City FC looks to be over. The talented young English winger landed in the United Kingdom on Tuesday morning ahead of a £4 million dealthat will see him join NYCFC’s parent club, Manchester City.

But Harrison’s travels don’t stop there. He is expected to immediately be loaned out to Championship side Middlesbrough, who are now managed by Tony Pulis. Harrison will remain at the Riverside until the summer, when he is expected to join up with the Man City squad for preseason training.

The loss of Harrison will be a major blow to NYCFC. The 21-year-old winger has developed incredibly well under the guidance of Patrick Vieira and has learnt an enormous amount from teammates such as David Villa, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo.

But his impressive displays have come at a price for New York City FC fans. And that price is £4 million. Harrison will no longer be preparing for what would have been his third MLS season. Instead, he will be thrust straight into the middle of Middlesbrough’s Championship campaign.

Boro are currently eighth in the second tier of English football but are in the playoff race, as they sit just four points outside the top six with 18 games to play. They will be hoping the addition of Harrison can help to inspire them to a Premier League return at the first time of asking following last season’s relegation.

Harrison was also a target of Stoke City, but the Potters weren’t prepared to match NYCFC’s valuation for the player this month. As a result the former Manchester United academy attacker will join Manchester City after seven years in the United States.

In total, Jack Harrison scored 14 goals in 59 MLS games for NYCFC, assisting a further 13 goals over the past two seasons. He was a key part of the New York City squad but they will have to now prepare for life without the exciting young Englishman.

Premier League clubs beginning to circle around NYCFC’s Jack Harrison – Report

Jack Harrison is having one hell of a season. So it comes as no real surprise that his performances with New York City FC in 2017 have caught the eye of clubs back in England, with Kristian Dyer reporting that a couple of teams are eyeing up a move.

The Stoke-born 20 year old was the No. 1 pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft and enjoyed a promising breakthrough season last term. He notched up four goals and seven assists in 21 regular season games but has stepped up another gear this campaign.

Photo: Chris Kachanoski/MLSGB

Harrison has already doubled his goal tally from last season, scoring eight in 19 games. He’s also provided five assists and has had a hand in either a goal or assist in six of his last eight matches.

But his displays mean NYCFC might have a battle on their hands if they’re to keep hold of one of Major League Soccer’s rising stars. Kristian Dyer revealed on the MSG Network that Harrison is the subject of interest from a few clubs back in England.

“One, if not two Premier League clubs are looking at him, as well as a number of Championship teams,” Dyer said.

“But the price tag might become an issue here. He would cost a lot more than Matt Miazga did two years ago, in terms of the transfer fee.”

Miazga joined Chelsea from the Red Bulls for around $5 million back in January 2016, playing twice before being sent on loan to Vitesse. He played 35 times for the Dutch club last term but is back at Chelsea now.

Harrison is the same age now as Miazga was when he moved to Europe 18 months ago. But as Dyer points out, it will take a more significant offer to lure him out of MLS.

Harrison is seemingly improving all the time. He is benefiting from the experience and leadership of David Villa and Andrea Pirlo. So he has no real reason to jump ship at the midpoint of a successful MLS campaign. But every player has their price. If a big-money offer comes in from the Premier League, NYCFC might have to plan for life without Jack Harrison.

MLS Preview and Prediction: New York City FC vs Minnesota United

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York City FC vs. Minnesota United
Venue: Yankee Stadium – Thursday, June 29 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)
Match Odds: NYCFC 2/5 – Draw 15/4 – Minnesota 11/2

Match Preview

New York City welcome Minnesota United to Yankee Stadium on Thursday night as Week 18 gets started with a first-ever MLS clash between the two sides.

NYCFC will be in high spirits after picking up a first win at Red Bull Arena in Saturday’s 2-0 derby win. That result kept them in third place in the East and just five behind Toronto at the top of the standings.

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Patrick Vieira’s men have looked strong all season but they are particularly good at home. They are unbeaten in four at Yankee Stadium and have won three of those.

That will sound ominous for a Minnesota side that have struggled massively on their travels in their inaugural season so far.

The Loons have lost four in a row away from home in all competitions and have picked up just two points from eight away games in MLS this term.

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They come into the game off the back of Saturday’s hard-fought 2-2 home draw with Vancouver, in which they came back from two goals to earn a point. But they know they will need to put in a special performance if they are to halt NYCFC on Thursday.

This will be the first clash between the two sides in history, so it should be an exciting matchup between two sides with plenty of dangerous attacking players at their disposal.

Team News

New York City FC will be without attacking duo Khiry Shelton and Maxi Moralez once again, with both still sidelined through injury. Ronald Matarrita is in line to start after coming off the bench in Saturday’s win at Red Bull Arena.

Minnesota United’s injury list is still worrying long as Bernardo Anor, Thomas de Villardi, Joseph Greenspan, Abu Danladi, Marc Burch, Vadim Demidov and Brent Kallman are all set to miss out.

Key Points

NYCFC’s form: L/D/W/W/W

Minnesota United’s form: W/L/L/W/D

Key Stat: Minnesota United haven’t won away from home since joining MLS. In fact, they haven’t won a single away game of any kind since beating FC Edmonton in April 2016.

Key Player: Jack Harrison – The young English attacker has been in great form this season and added his seventh goal of the season in Saturday’s 2-0 win at the Red Bulls with a fine strike into the top corner. He has three goals and two assists in his last six MLS outings and will look to hurt the Loons here.

Score Prediction

New York City FC 3-0 Minnesota United – It’s difficult to see anything other than an NYCFC win in this one. Minnesota are decimated by injuries and haven’t looked like winning away from home this season. New York City have hit stride at a crucial stage of the season and should continue to put pressure on Toronto FC at the top of the East with a routine home victory.

MLS Preview and Prediction: New York City FC vs Orlando City

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York City FC vs. Orlando City 
Venue: Yankee Stadium – Sunday, April 23 – 13:30 ET (18:30 BST)
Match Odds: NYCFC 4/6 – Draw 14/5 – Orlando 15/4

Match Preview

New York City welcome Orlando City to Yankee Stadium in one of the standout fixtures of gameweek eight, the Eastern Conference sides are separated by just two points ahead of the clash.

NYCFC come into this one having won 2-0 away at Philadelphia. David Villa scored one of the goals of his career, an incredible strike from distance.

Patrick Vieira’s side are unbeaten at home so far this season and they will want to keep that run going this weekend. They should be competing to top the Eastern Conference and will need to be beating sides like Orlando to do so.

Orlando City are one point off top spot in the East despite playing two games less than leaders Columbus. They have scored just six goals in their five games this season, but have been resolute at the back.

The Lions are looking fierce and resilient early on this season but to win here is going to be a huge ask. Their only away game of 2017 was a 2-0 loss against Columbus and they only won three times on the road last season.

Cyle Larin has enjoyed some great success in front of goal against NYCFC, netting seven in the last six meetings between the two sides.

Team News

Khiry Shelton and Ronald Matarrita look set to be the only absentees for NYCFC against the visiting Orlando this weekend.

Orlando could be without up to five players for this fixture as Kaká, Seb Hines, Rafael Ramos and Jose Aja are all out, while Antonio Nocerino remains a doubt.

Key Points

NYCFC’s form: W/D/W/L/W

Orlando City’s form: W/W/L/W/W

Key Stat: David Villa and Kyle Larin have both scored four times so far this season, their reliability in front of goal may well be key to decide who wins this one.

Key Player: Jack Harrison – The NYCFC forward has had a good start to the season, he netted his second goal of 2017 last weekend and will be hoping to get on the scoresheet once again here.

Score Prediction

New York City FC 2-2 Orlando City – Score draw. NYCFC will continue their unbeaten run at Yankee Stadium and not lose any ground against their Eastern Conference rivals this weekend. Orlando to pick up their first away point of the season, albeit this is only their second game on the road.

MLS Preview and Prediction: New England Revolution vs New York City FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – New England Revolution vs. New York City FC

Venue: Gillette Stadium – Wednesday, July 6 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST) 

Match Odds: New England 4/5 – Draw 11/4 – NYCFC 16/5

Match Preview

New England Revolution welcome New York City FC to Gillette Stadium on Wednesday evening in a battle between two Eastern Conference sides in contrasting form.

New England are stuck in eighth place in the East, a point off the playoff places, and have now lost back-to-back games away at DC and Montreal.

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Jay Heaps has watched his side win just four of their 17 games to this point. They must perform better over the second half of the season if they are to enjoy another playoff run.

A return to Gillette Stadium should improve their chances, although they have the third-worst home form in the league – another sign things aren’t progressing as they should in Foxborough.

By stark contrast, New York City come into Wednesday’s game at the top of the Eastern Conference and will be on cloud nine following Sunday’s first-ever New York Derby win.

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NYCFC have been in great form of late, winning each of their last three and are now unbeaten in four away games. They have picked up more points away from home than any other side in MLS this term.

They will look to keep their place at the top of the East with another victory here. The reverse fixture ended 1-1 in March.

Team News

New England Revolution have a number of injury worries heading into Wednesday’s game. Charlie Davies remains sidelined, along with Gershon Koffie, Donnie Smith and Juan Agudelo. Darrius Barnes is a doubt. Bobby Shuttleworth will hope to return between the sticks but Brad Knighton has started each of the last three league games for the Revs.

Patrick Vieira is unlikely to want to make any changes to the NYCFC side that beat the Red Bulls on Sunday. Connor Brandt and Steve Mendoza remain sidelined, while Federico Bravo and Ethan White are doubts. Jack Harrison starred in Sunday’s win and will hope to start a fifth-straight game here.

Key Points

New England Revolution’s last five: L/W/W/L/L

New York City’s last five: D/L/W/W/W

Key Stat: NYCFC are unbeaten in their last four away games in MLS (W3 D1).

Key Player: Jack Harrison – It’s impossible to highlight anyone other than New York City’s wonderkid ahead of Wednesday’s game. The English youngster scored his second goal of the season in the 2-0 win over the Red Bulls on Sunday and also picked up his second assist of the campaign too. He is on fire right now and will look to extend his form with another solid display here.

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Score Prediction

New England Revolution 1-2 New York City FC – New York City to continue their fine run of form with a fourth consecutive victory here. New England don’t look like the side they should be and will be devastated to have thrown away a two-goal lead at Montreal on Saturday. Away win.

13 lesser-known Englishmen to watch in MLS in 2016

By Jamie Dawe 

Over the past year, three legends of English football by the names of Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard have decided to start to wind down their careers in California and New York respectively. Fellow Premier League stalwarts of old, such as Liam Ridgewell and Shaun Wright-Phillips have also made their moves to MLS in recent time. Most Premier League fans will be fully aware of these well-known and well publicised moves to the States, but many other Englishman have sailed across the Atlantic completely unnoticed. It’s about time that some of these players get the recognition they deserve. These players all have their own interesting stories to tell – one played for a national team that they were ineligible for, one broke the MLS record for the most goals in a season and one even won the FA Youth Cup in 2013!

So read on to find out some of the other English names you should be looking out for in 2016 and beyond…

Norwich’s Neymar – Dom Dwyer

Current Club: Sporting Kansas City

Joined MLS: 2012

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A youth career with Norwich City ended when he was told he would never physically recover enough from his third foot break to play professional football. He was subsequently spotted by US college scouts and given a full scholarship at Tyler Junior College in Texas. He moved to the University of South Florida in 2011 and was picked at No. 16 in the 2012 SuperDraft by SKC – where he has been ever since. A total of 61 goals in 103 career games – including 36 in MLS for SKC – shows his incredible striking ability. At 5ft 9ins he relies on power and speed to blast past his opponents rather than being a traditional No. 9. He created a formidable partnership with former Liverpool player Krisztian Nemeth last season but will need to lead the attack more independently in 2016 – something he should be capable of doing effectively.

The Former U21 Star – Jordan Stewart

Current Club: San Jose Earthquakes

Joined MLS: 2013

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The 34-year-old left-back has been in California ever since he left Coventry City in 2013. He has led a successful career, playing in the Premier League for Watford and Leicester as well as recording Championship and League 1 appearances with Bristol Rovers, Derby County, Sheffield United and Notts County. He also enjoyed a lone season at Greek Superleague side Skoda Xanthi. During his six seasons in the first team at Leicester, he achieved an appearance with the England U21 squad as well as four with the U18 group. He will be hoping for another solid campaign in San Jose this year.

The Other Brother – Bradley Wright-Phillips

Current Club: New York Red Bulls

Joined MLS: 2013

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Bradley Wright-Phillips joined MLS a full two years before his older brother Shaun. In his career leading up to the move stateside he played for Manchester City, Southampton, Charlton, Brentford and the side that I have devoted my life to, Plymouth Argyle. A grand total of 131 career goals with 51 for the Red Bulls (an MLS record-setting 27 goals in a single season included in that) prove that BWP is a true goalscorer and he has thrived since joining the league in 2013.

The Non-League Struggler – Luke Mulholland

Current Club: Real Salt Lake

Joined MLS: 2014

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Mullholland started his career with non-league side Lancaster City, who were on the verge of bankruptcy at the time. He managed to escape to college soccer in 2007 and made his professional debut in 2010 for the Wilmington Hammerheads in the USL. After a failed trial with New England Revolution in 2011, it took Mulholland three more years to fulfill his ambition of playing in MLS when he signed for RSL in 2014. He has become a key part of the team since and will hope to be an important player in 2016.

The Sunshine State Boys – Luke Boden, Seb Hines and Harrison Heath

Current Club: Orlando City SC

Joined MLS: 2015

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All three of these players were part of Orlando City’s inaugural season last term, however, they all took significantly different paths to reach the club. Luke Boden joined Orlando in 2011 when they were a USL side, after being released from his boyhood club Sheffield Wednesday. Since then, he has been an integral part of the OCSC set up and has played 112 games for the team in the two different divisions. Seb Hines moved to MLS from Middlesbrough, initially on loan a year ago, but made the deal permanent when his contract at the Riverside expired in July. Harrison Heath is the 19-year-old son of Lions boss Adrian Heath and was part of the FA Youth Cup winning Norwich City side in 2013, before moving to the US to link up with his father. Both Boden and Heath have US Green Cards – meaning they are seen as domestic players on MLS rosters.

The Accidental Jamaican – Tyrone Mears

Current Club: Seattle Sounders

Joined MLS: 2015

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At the peak of his career, former Bolton, Derby, Burnley and Marseille player Tyrone Mears was rumoured to be on the brink of an England call-up. However, an appearance for the Jamaican national side in 2009 meant he was committed to play for Jamaica until the end of time (except he was never eligible to play for Jamaica as he thought his estranged father was Jamaican, even though he turned out to be from Sierra Leone). Fast forward to 2016 and Mears is entering his second season with the Sounders as their starting right-back after coming off of a 28-appearance debut campaign last year. He will hope to help Seattle to success this year and beyond.

The New SuperDraft Signings – Jack Harrison, Ben Polk & Paul Clowes

Current Clubs: NYCFC, Portland Timbers and DC United

Joined MLS: 2016

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All three of these players were picked within the first two rounds of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft – at No. 1, 20 and 32 respectively. Harrison (pictured at top of article) spent his youth career with the Manchester United academy, whereas Clowes spent his youth career on the blue side of the city. Ben Polk has a British mother and lived in the UK between the ages of 10-19, training with Oxford United’s youth sides and playing for Banbury United in the seventh tier of English football at age 17. Now all three will hope to make a splash in MLS as they start their professional careers.

The Portuguese Shot-Stopper – Matt Jones

Current Club: Philadelphia Union

Joined MLS: 2016

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Stoke-on-Trent-born Matt Jones is only on loan to the Union from Portuguese side Belenenses, but he is British through and through. His youth career consisted of appearances for the youth sides of Port Vale and West Bromwich Albion, which lasted until he decided to play college soccer for Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. He spent one season in the fourth tier of US Soccer, after which he moved to Portugal to play for Second Division side Santa Clara. Since then, he has ventured around Portugal, playing for Madeira, Belenenses and Tondela as well as recording 29 league appearances for Santa Clara. At 6ft 3ins and at age 29, he has the command and experience of a true leader in goal and will hope for an opportunity to prove his worth in Philadelphia this year.

The Liverpudlian Lionel Messi – Rob Vincent

Current Club: DC United

Joined MLS: 2016

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After spending his formative years with Everton, Crewe Alexandra and Stockport County, Vincent took the opportunity to play college soccer in the States for the University of Charleston. After college, he moved to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the USL and has excelled over the past three seasons, finally being signed by DC United this winter. He plays in an attacking midfielder role and at 5ft 9ins and with 24 goals in 78 games – the only fair comparison is (obviously?!) to Lionel Messi! He is the most recent addition to this exclusive group of English stars plying their trade in the MLS and could make an impression with DC in 2016.

This group of English players make up the national contingent that are performing in the top divison of soccer in the US. However, there are many other English players in the leagues below MLS that are striving to reach the top.

Below is my MLS dream team of English-born players currently in MLS. Is there anyone you think deserved to be in this side that isn’t?

My best XI of Englishman playing in MLS in 2016. Via Lineupbuilder.com

My best XI of Englishman playing in MLS in 2016. Via Lineupbuilder.com

2016 MLS Season Preview: New York City

As the 2016 MLS season edges closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what New York City will be looking to achieve this year…

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

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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

Key Player:

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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.

Photo: NYCFC.com

Photo: NYCFC.com

Predicted Finish:

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?

MLS SuperDraft 2016: Five picks who could start on the opening day

By Jamie Dawe

The MLS SuperDraft is seen as the best place to pick up young talent for MLS clubs, with players who are normally in their early 20s moving from college soccer up into the professional ranks.

Whereas most teams see the SuperDraft as an opportunity to invest in the future, some of the picks made on Thursday afternoon will be ready to start on Sunday, March 6th 2016 – the day the 21st MLS season kicks off. This article is dedicated to those who will have a real shot at a starting place on the opening day of the 2016 season.

Jack Harrison (NYCFC)

The Bolton-born Manchester United academy product was chosen by Chicago Fire as the No.1 pick in this year’s SuperDraft but was almost instantly traded 800 miles east to NYCFC, who were desperate for his services.

Harrison will have to compete with Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo, Mix Diskerud, Tommy McNamara, Kwadwo Poku and others for a starting spot – but the 19 year old has the ability to prove himself over preseason and subsequently earn a place in Patrick Vieira’s side alongside legends of the game such as David Villa and Pirlo. He may have to settle for a wide role – with Poku on the other side and Lampard in behind Villa.

Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire)

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When the Fire drafted Vincent at No.4, the question was raised: With Joevin Jones as the clear starting left-back amongst the Chicago ranks, would Vincent get game time? Could he even be traded? We soon found out the answer to these questions as later on in the Draft, it was revealed that Jones had been traded to Seattle in exchange for the No.15 pick and some general allocation money. This is a clear indicator that Vincent will start from day one with the Fire and that he will be the key man on the left side of defence for the MLS’s worst team of 2015.

Jonathan Campbell (Chicago Fire)

This is more of a bold decision, suggesting that Chicago may start two rookies in defence on Matchday 1. However, their defence in the 2015 season was the equal worst in the league and it’s possibly a risk worth taking for head coach Veljko Paunovic. Chicago currently only have two other defenders on their roster in Eric Gehrig and homegrown player Patrick Doody. This will certainly change by the time we reach the start of the season, but with Doody set to be used more as a backup, the likelihood is there will be a starting berth waiting for Campbell to stamp his name on.

Joshua Yaro or Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia Union)

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Once again, the Union find themselves in a place where they have to rebuild. Maurice Edu is going nowhere in the backline of the Philadelphia defence, but the other three spots are anyone’s guess.

Signing Georgetown duo Yaro and Rosenberry was a smart move as they have signed a partnership which has been bossing college soccer for the past year. However, Yaro’s future might not be at centre-back, which is where he played for most of his college career. There were questions about him being converted into a full-back or a defensive midfielder and the latter would make the most sense as Rosenberry is a already established as a right-back.

It’s tough to see both of these players starting on March 7th, purely because the Union are unlikely to want to take the gamble of playing two rookies in their backline on Matchday 1. They might have decided to convert Yaro into a different position, but that process could possibly take until April or May and so seeing both Yaro and Rosenberry in the Union starting XI for the trip to FC Dallas is unlikely. Though one of them should get the nod.

Are there any SuperDraft picks that you think will start on Matchday 1?