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Potential Designated Player Targets: In Our Own Backyard

Could NYCFC look within MLS for it’s next Designated Player?

MLS: Orlando City SC at Chicago Fire Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to signing Designated Players, we know that New York City FC has been very keen at signing players with “name value”. First there was Frank Lampard, then David Villa, and Andrea Pirlo completed the trio. So one would expect Reyna and co. to perhaps look again out towards Europe to find its next big signing. As an alternative, however, Reyna and Vieira have now spent a full season (two seasons now for Reyna) playing against MLS opposition and may be inclined to look within MLS for the club’s next Designated Player. With that in mind, here’s a shortlist of ideal Designated Player candidates for NYCFC:

Wishful Thinking...

These next few names are what I would consider ideal candidates to joining the Boys in Blue, but their current club situations may preclude that from happening. These options are by no means impossible, but perhaps unlikely to happen this winter.

David Accam

Since coming to MLS in the 2015 season, David Accam has terrorized opposing defenses on the flanks with his blazing speed and ability to take any defender on 1 v 1 for the Chicago Fire. Over the last two seasons he’s accumulated 19 goals and 7 assists in what has been an anemic Chicago offense during his time there. The Fire have already confirmed Accam will be returning to the club in the 2017 season, which means acquiring him will have to involve some sort of trade with the Chicago Fire. And with the Fire apparently looking to add to their DP collection, pilfering Accam seems even harder to do. Accam has already drew interest from EPL clubs as well, so if the Fire were inclined to move, it’d most likely be overseas for a considerable transfer fee that could help them in a number of areas financially. Still, you can never rule out a trade if the right pieces are offered. And there is no denying a player like Accam would be ideal in Vieira’s 4-3-3 formation punishing the opposition on either flank.

Darlington Nagbe

There are very few players in MLS who have been on the hype train longer than Darlington Nagbe has. A tantalizing combination of athleticism and technical skill, people have long wondered when he would “put it all together”. While he has not been to make a mark in traditional counting stats, as the video above shows he is definitely a player who leaves his mark on most games. Nagbe had a bit of a breakout last season when Caleb Porter moved to a 4-3-3 formation which featured him alongside Diego Valeri with Diego Chara shielding the backline. That trio took the Portland Timbers all the way to their first MLS Cup championship. Last season, however, Nagbe saw much of last season back on the wings for Portland and now, after a disappointing season, has been linked with an overseas move to Celtic FC. That makes a move complicated for NYCFC, but one hopes that the allure of a possible Designated Player contract would entice him to stay in MLS for the Boys in Blue. NYCFC would have to make a trade as well for Nagbe’s services, but perhaps that won’t be as difficult as it seems if Nagbe is forcing his way out the door. Nagbe for Mix Diskerud - how’s that sound Merritt Paulson?

This Could Happen...

Now that we have gotten my pipe dreams out of the way, let’s look at a couple of names that much more possible to don the City Blue this winter.

Pedro Morales

After a down season with the Vancouver Whitecaps, Pedro Morales now finds himself looking for a new club, as the club has decided to decline his option for next season. Morales played for Vancouver as a Designated Player, so he will most likely be looking for a similar type of contract to stay in MLS. And he just might be worth it too. Despite the down season, the 31 year old Chilean midfielder had an overall impressive stint with Vancouver, gathering 25 goals and 22 assists in 83 games played across 3 seasons. An attacking midfielder with his goal scoring ability and great passing ability could fit in well in New York City’s 3-man midfield next season.

Robbie Keane

Highly touted as one of the greatest Designated Players in MLS history, Robbie Keane now finds himself looking for a new club after the LA Galaxy have decided to depart ways with the 36 year old striker after 5 stellar seasons with the club. Keane is a MLS Cup winner, an MLS MVP, and has simply scorched Major League Soccer with a tally of 83 goals and 45 assists across 125 games played in his last 5 seasons. Keane has also genuinely seemed to enjoy playing in MLS, so joining New York City instead of heading back overseas is not a stretch of the imagination. What is a stretch, however, is assuming he and David Villa would form a good attacking partnership. One of the reasons LA has moved on from Keane is because it was abundantly clear that he and their latest DP Signing, Giovanni Dos Santos, were both better off when the other was not on the pitch. They were both looking to do similar things, and that could pose a similar problem if you pair Keane with Villa. The club would have to do their due diligence before pulling the trigger on this one.

As the offseason continues on, there will no doubt be more names that get connected to New York City FC, names most of us are probably not even thinking of at the moment. And while the talent pool in MLS continues to grow, the level of talent to award a Designated Player contract is a much smaller subset. There are options the club can go with, but I would still imagine the club will look overseas to spend that money, rather than right in their own backyard.

Which of these (or other) MLS players would you like to see the club bring on as their next Designated Player? Comment below!