Oof. Just when it finally looks like New York City FC are starting to form a clearer picture in what the lineup could look for 2017, we now find out that Mikey Lopez will be out 3 to 4 months following arthroscopic surgery in his ankle. The news comes as a big blow, as Mikey currently seemed to be the most likely starter in the defensive midfield role now that Andoni Iraola has retired.
With the preseason rapidly approaching, NYCFC still have quite a few moves to be made to properly fill out their roster. Lopez missing a considerable chunk of the early season will not help matters. While most people will not have confused Lopez as anything more than a role player, he did display some much needed versatility being able to play both a box to box and holding midfield role, while also displaying an ability to play right back, as he did last fall in a friendly match.
With this injury news, we will have to wait and see how Reyna and Vieira look to solve the holding midfield role in the 4-3-3 formation (if that is the formation he’s choosing to go with). Regardless of what he may say publicly, it’s hard to imagine the him going back to using Andrea Pirlo in the number 6 role - a move he had to abandon within the first month of last season. The club could still go out and acquire a holding mid, or perhaps they feel they already have one on the roster as it currently stands.
Recent draftee Chris Wingate spent time in college playing the number 6 role, and so has trialist John Stertzer. There’s also the myth of Connor Brandt, who played defensive midfield in college before converting to left back as a professional. Also not to be ruled out is Vieira pulling another position change of one of his current players, like he did with Iraola, to fill the role as well. My number one suspect for that role would be Ethan White. He’s proven to be a versatile player with pace, who also has the ability to play in central defense. It would not surprise me if Vieira would like to try him out in the 6 role this season.
In any event, we wish Mikey a speedy recovery here at HRB, and hopefully we’ll see him back in action soon as our lovable destroyer!