If there is anything NYCFC is good at doing, it is giving the fans a heart attack and a sigh of relief at the same time. More often then not, that anxiety comes during the off season. The past two months have been relatively slow, up until last weekend where the likes of Juan Pablo Torres, Justin Haak, Tony Rocha, Keaton Parks, and -officially- Luis Barraza have been signed and are now part of the 30-Man Pre-Season Squad.
With acquisitions, also comes releases as well. New York City FC and Jo Inge Berget Mutually Terminate Contract, giving NYCFC fans a lot of hope (and equally as much dread, now that we have no centre-forward). NYCFC has also waived Houtondji freeing up an International Slot as well as $150k.
Overall, general consenses about Houtondji and Berget were unanimous:
GET RDY BOIZ!!!! we playing 0-10-0 FORMATION LUL!!!! pic.twitter.com/9Qb1ZNErrt— JediMasterLegendLukeSkywalker (@NYCJEDIMASTER) January 25, 2019
End Goal -> Long Term Goals
Up until the beginning of the Inaugural Season of NYCFC, we’ve seen that the main DP’s have had an average age of 34. (David Villa, was 33 at the time, while Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo were 36 and 35, respectively) Gifted in their own right, MLS is not a retirement league by any means. With the majority of time spent traveling this wasn’t going to be an easy feat for most European soccer stars. While David Villa proved that it can be possible, Claudio Reyna and the FO were actively looking to shift how NYCFC would cope with the loss of Villa, as well as shape the brand to better respond to the changes in MLS teams.
MLS itself has been in a shift. While it certainly does not bolster the same viewing average as the Premier League, it certain has the young talent. Those same young talents have been seen in other Leagues, most notably, Bundesliga. On average, Bundesliga have the youngest players to start in a line-up: perfect for American talent to come and get exposure; not only in the European spotlight, but also gain experience in a different League. MLS is still figuring itself out on where to distinguish itself, as a developed league, or a farm league or even a youth development league. In the wise words of Alexi Lalas: ‘Youth development is not sexy…everyone wants the final product…We dont tune in for the future. We tune in for the now.’
In the other corner, we have South American talents that have been migrating to the MLS, as a chance to showcase their prowess, albeit, raw. With the current acquisition of Miguel Almiron to Newcastle United, Alexi Lalas has a point: no one wants to see the final product (no matter how interesting) in transition. What matter is how they respond once they arrive to the bigger leagues in Europe. And in that same idea, that’s what MLS is turning to be: a transition league with great talent, both South American and American side, itching to get minutes. Jesus Medina is a perfect example of this. Why would NYCFC place a DP status to a young Paraguayan if they did not believe he could essentially be shaped into the limelight of New York and the franchise?
Claudio Reyna sees it differently from Lalas. He doesn’t see it as a cause of concern and embraces the ambiguity that MLS is currently. Claudio’s interview with the Athletic gave a similar story about the emphasis of youth/Homegrown talent and how that impact could be not only helpful to MLS but also to NYCFC.
With more Homegrown players in NYCFC, this helps give more options to purchase in various international markets. This helps with enticing international talent with TAM (Target Allocation Money). They do not have to be big (e.g Tinnerholm/Ring/Shradi), but with the global influence that CFG has as a whole, it stands to prove that TAM can entice any talent. DP spots are no longer held by big names (Maxi Moralez, was a no-name until NYCFC picked him up), but they are reserved by players that fit the current system and the philosophy of both Torrent and Reyna. from a purely economic standpoint, the shift is very understandable. Naturally, the push to further develop the younger players is needed to give them exposure on a domestic and national level.
These are the 30 Players that are currently in Abu Dhabi:
Goalkeepers (5):These are the current Sean Johnson#, Brad Stuver, Jeff Caldwell, Luis Barraza, Alex Rando*
Defenders (10): Anton Tinnerholm, Joe Scally, Abdi Mohamed^, Maxime Chanot, Sebastien Ibeagha, Tayvon Gray*, Alex Callens, Nico Benalcazar*, Ronald Matarrita, Ben Sweat
Midfielders (11): Alex Ring, Ebenezer Ofori, James Sands, Justin Haak, Keaton Parks, Tony Rocha, Juan Pablo Torres, Dante Polvara*, Maxi Moralez, Danny Bedoya, Veljko Petkovic*
Forwards (4): Jonathan Lewis#, Jesus Medina, Valentin Castellanos, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi
* Academy Player
^ Unsigned Draft Pick
# will join at conclusion of USMNT camp
Nani is looking to come to Major League Soccer. A Left Winger, he can add depth and is a veteran in the game. At 32 years old, he would fit well within our system and can assist as well as have opportunities to finish.