On Sunday, New York City capped their pre-season training in Jacksonville with a scrimmage against the NASL's Jacksonville Armada. Before the scrimmage, the team announced that David Villa, the legendary Spanish striker who was New York City's first signing, would be the team captain.
David shared his feelings about the honor in a brief message:
David Villa is #NYCFC's captain. https://t.co/uCnp7toqp3— New York City FC (@NYCFC) February 1, 2015
In other news, the team "won" its scrimmage against Jacksonville 2-1. I say "won" because the scrimmage was a weirdly-structured affair. Four quarters of 24 minutes each, amounting to 96 minutes of action. It was really more of an opportunity to see the team engage in 11-versus-11 activity. Khiry Watson scored the team's first goal, and draftee Markus Naglestad scored the second in a last-second penalty kick.
New York City players Ned Grabavoy, Josh Williams, and Tony Taylor discussed the scrimmage in a video, which you can watch here:
New York City will leave Jacksonville today for ten days' training at City Football Academy in Manchester, England. They'll be training with their sister club, Manchester City. They will also play their first official games ever: two friendlies against St. Mirren and Brondby IF. They play St. Mirren at 7:00 p.m. (2:00 p.m. EST) on February 10, then face off against Brondby in an afternoon game at 12:00 p.m. (7:00 am EST) on February 15.
After that ten-day training sojourn in northwest England, New York City will travel back to the United States and play in the Carolina Challenge Cup at the end of February, before beginning their inaugural MLS season on March 7 against fellow expansion club Orlando City. In that preseason tournament, they'll be facing off against the Charleston Battery, Houston Dynamo, as well as Orlando City.
New York City are considering a few other players - Bledi Bardic, most notably, who's apparently impressed coach Jason Kreis with his work ethic, speed, and fitness - but as it stands, this is what the roster looks like now:
|#1 Akira Fitzgerald||#2 Andres Mendoza (I)||#4 Andrew Jacobson||#7 David Villa (I)||Jose Ribas (I)|
|#12 Josh Saunders||#3 Kwame Watson-Siriboe||#10 Mix Diskerud||#14 Patrick Mullins||Shay Facey (I)|
|#18 Ryan Meara||#5 Jeb Brovsky||#11 Ned Grabavoy||#99 Tony Taylor||Pablo Alvarez (I)|
|#6 George John||#15 Tommy McNamara||Khiry Shelton||Corben Bone|
|#13 Josh Williams||#20 Mehdi Ballouchy (I)||Adam Nemec (I)||Bledi Bardic (I)|
|#17 Chris Wingert||#23 Matt Dunn|
|#21 Jason Hernandez||#26 Sebastian Velasquez (I)|
|#88 Kwadwo Poku (I)|
Only Watson and Nemec don't have numbers yet. I've noted the international players with an (I). Depending on green-card status, some of these players may or may not take up some of the team's nine international slots. As of today, with Nemec's signing made official, New York City has 23 players on its roster. Under the old CBA, which expired Saturday, MLS rosters can contain up to 30 players.
Despite the end of the January transfer window today, the team might add a few more players. One player whose name came up was forward Eoin Doyle. Doyle, an Irishman, has been spectacular for English League One team Chesterfield. He's scored 20 goals in the league already, and 24 in all competitions -- totals that lead England in all divisions.
Would he be a solid get? Sure, but with six international slots taken already, and the team needing MLS-quality starters at defensive/holding midfield and left back, it's hard to imagine Doyle becoming New York City's sixth striker. That's especially true given that sources have told us that Tony Taylor -- he of the nine minutes of MLS play -- has been impressive in training camp so far.
Taylor's got four years of international experience, having played in Portugal and Cyprus before coming to MLS. In addition, Taylor's an American youth international -- he was a member of the US squad that played at the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt. In that tournament, Taylor started and appeared in all three games that Thomas Rongen’s team played in during the tournament, scoring the eventual game-winning goal in a 4-1 win over Cameroon. He was also a member of the US Under-23 squad at the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament.
As you can see from the highlights above, Taylor is a strong, fast player. He plays more of a right-winger-ish type role in the offense; this could be key if Kreis decides to deploy the team in a 4-3-3, say. Crucially, according to people who've been watching New York City train, Taylor appears to be more of a finished product. This might be key in determining who stays and who goes in New York City's strike force.