New York City FC Eager To Write Their Own Chapter In MLS History

Graham Ruthven Twitter: @grahamruthven


Not long into New York City FC’s home opener at Yankee Stadium the New York Red Bulls posted a tweet asking its followers, “Who are the best 20 players in 20 years of metro soccer?” It served as something of a reminder that Major League Soccer did in fact exist in New York before the joint Manchester City - New York Yankees venture sold so much as a branded scarf.

And NYC FC has sold a lot of scarves. The franchise actually run out of branded merchandise at last week’s game against the New England Revolution, as 43,507 supporters packed the iconic Bronx venue last Sunday. 

It’s rather tenuous illustration of just how big an impact New York City FC has made in its expansion season, but what has been most impressive is the way in which Jason Kreis’ side has backed up all the ticket sales, televised games and ticker-tape welcomes with results and performances.

NYC FC might have played just three games this season but they have yet to suffer defeat, drawing with Orlando City in their opener before recording a comfortable 2-0 win over New England and a hard fought, if slightly below par, goalless draw on the road at Colorado. 

So how far can Kreis’ side go in 2015? Their roster suggests that they could be play-off contenders, but as Toronto FC showed last season pre-season hype and transfer market glitz doesn’t always translate into a post-season run.

Having spent six months in Manchester working under Manuel Pellegrini and Patrick Viera, in order to induct himself into the so-called ‘City Way,’ Kreis has admitted that he is likely to add one or two Man City youngsters on loan, but for now his squad boasts impressive MLS pedigree. 

Ned Grabavoy, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Chris Wingert and Sebastian Velasquez have all followed Kreis from Real Salt Lake, where the 42-year-old enjoyed six successful years as coach. And NYC FC has been wise in supplementing their domestically grounded roster with top-level talent too.

In David Villa and Mix Diskerud New York City FC has two of the best players in the league, with the latter  impressing as the team’s playmaker. How Lampard will fit into Kreis’ midfield unit when he eventually joins up with his new team in the summer remains a bit of a mystery, given how effective NYC FC has been in that area of the pitch so far this season.

As the poster-boy of NYC FC’s expansion season (especially after the Frank Lampard saga) Villa was always likely to be the focus of scrutiny when analysing Kreis’ team. The former Atletico Madrid and Barcelona frontman has been used predominantly on the left side of attack, allowing him to drift inside, but the 33-year-old has been the driving force behind his side’s forward-line. 

Of course, Josh Saunders deserves a significant share of the credit for the start New York City FC has made to life in MLS. As a three-time MLS Cup winner Saunders gives NYC FC a great deal of experience at the back, with his displays against New England and Colorado in particular highlighting his prowess as an instinctive shot-stopper.

Kreis’ willingness to adapt and tailor his approach for each match will serve New York City FC well as they chase a play-off place in their expansion season. His side dealt well with the physical nature of Orlando’s game, while imposing their own style on the Revolution the following week.

Against the Rapids New York City FC looked to hit hard on the counter attack, with Mix Diskerud conducting and directing the play from his position as the number 10. Such an approach found a use for Adam Nemec, who has struggled somewhat to find a place in Kreis’ system, with the Slovakian effective in knocking the ball on for the runs of Villa in behind the Colorado backline.

If NYC FC can find a way to make the most of Lampard when he eventually joins, and maybe even add a third Designated Player in the summer, Kreis’ side can probably count on a play-off place. New York’s newest franchise aspires to the day they can tweet in response to the Red Bulls, “Who won the only MLS Cup in 20 years of metro soccer?”