Trials are no joke. Just ask veteran U.S. international Oguchi Onyewu, who trained with New York City FC at the grotesque height of their defensive woes in mid-2015, only to be shown the door.
Fast-forward to the current preseason, where the competition for a roster spot with the Bronx Blues is, far and away, tougher than it’s ever been. In the coming weeks, we’ll break down everything you need to know about the four currently unsigned rookies, as well as NYCFC Academy prospect James Sands. But today, let’s get acquainted with the five trialists joining them down in Jacksonville: Ben Sweat, Connor Brandt, John Stertzer, Roberto Louima, and Michael Farfan.
POSITION: Left back
LAST YEAR: Made 33 total NASL appearances for the Tampa Bay Rowdies
TRANSFERMARKT EST. VALUE: €125,000
A tall (6’3”) fullback drafted by the Columbus Crew out of the University of South Florida in 2014, Sweat never caught on with the club, eventually ending up in NASL.
We asked Pat Murphy of SB Nation’s Massive Report for the skinny on the NYCFC trialist. Here’s what he had to say:
“He was with the Crew in 2014 and then was waived in preseason the following year. He played in an Open Cup game for sure, and maybe an exhibition. He also went on loan to Dayton for periods. Very attacking fullback type of player. Super nice guy, too. Was disappointed he was gone.”
POSITION: Defensive midfield/left back
LAST YEAR: With NYCFC, missed 2016 with a hip injury
TRANSFERMARKT EST. VALUE: €50,000
New York City’s second round SuperDraft pick in 2014, Brandt has registered just nine minutes of MLS play to date. The club declined his contract option following the 2016 season.
Even if Brandt stays healthy, we don’t have much evidence to suggest whether or not he’s a fit for Patrick Vieira’s deliberate build-from-the-back system— keep in mind that Jason “Mr. Possession” Kreis was the man in charge when the player was selected. But with the defensive portion of the field still needing some attention in the Five Boroughs, Brandt’s familiarity with the club could give him an advantage over his fellow trialists.
POSITION: Central midfield
LAST YEAR: Logged 778 minutes over 9 MLS appearances for Real Salt Lake
TRANSFERMARKT EST. VALUE: €300,000
Another Jason Kreis draftee, Stertzer logged four years with RSL, but never managed to feature in a consistently stacked midfield.
Here’s what Matt Montgomery of SB Nation’s RSL Soapbox had to say about the player:
“John Stertzer never really played regular minutes in Salt Lake City, as he was always Kyle Beckerman’s backup. I’m convinced he could have been a very good player here, but a series of unlucky injuries cost him his first two years at the club — and we’re not talking injury-prone: a separated shoulder in 2013 that saw him miss most of the season, a concussion to start the 2014 preseason, and a broken leg in an exhibition match in 2014. He never topped 1,000 minutes in a season at RSL.
Expect a player who has reasonable ball control, a good tackle, and some good movement off the ball. He could develop into a reliable starter in the midfield given patience and time. Don’t look for him to spring an attack — he’s better served breaking up play.”
LAST YEAR: In the Haitian league, moved from Violette AC to Real du Cap in August. The following month, made his debut for Haiti’s national team. To date, has appeared once in World Cup Qualification and 3 times in Caribbean Cup play.
TRANSFERMARKT EST. VALUE: N/A
We can’t say we know much about Louima, but there’s young talent in every single corner of the world. If this kid ends up with a contract, scouting director David Lee probably deserves a Nobel Prize (I don’t care which one; they all pay the same).
POSITION: Attacking midfield/wide midfield
LAST YEAR: After moving to Seattle from DC United, Played just 26 league minutes for the eventual MLS Cup champions.
TRANSFERMARKT EST. VALUE: €150,000
Farfan is another guy we already know a little about. He’s competed in CONCACAF Champions League, he had a stint with Liga MX giants Cruz Azul, an has 100 total MLS appearances under his belt.
Here’s what Dave Clark of SB Nation’s Sounder at Heart had to say about Farfan:
“He's still young and has great technical skills. But with Seattle he couldn't stay healthy. Farfan couldn't crack a lineup that desperately needed help early in the season, and by the end the year he wasn't as necessary after they added [Nico] Lodeiro and [Álvaro] Fernandez.”
That’s a wrap! Thanks so much to the SB Nation MLS community for helping us out with our analysis today. Stay tuned for more preseason coverage! And, you know, the Khedira signing!
We’re totally signing Khedira.