It’s never too early to start looking forward to next year! With the Boys in Blue falling short of advancing past Columbus Crew SC in the playoffs, now is as good a time as ever to look at what the City faithful can be hopeful for in 2018. Although we can expect more than a few changes, there are some certainties which already provide reason for excitement for NYCFC’s fourth campaign.
New secondary kits
MLS and Adidas’ partnership has each team changing their primary and secondary kits every two years. With the way that NYCFC arranged their kit releases, we can expect a new secondary kit in even-numbered years and new primaries in odd-numbered years. The team will continue to wear the 2017 version of the City Blue as their primary kit in 2018, but will have a new secondary kit to replace the dark blue ‘pulse’ secondaries.
I was more partial to the recent secondary kit — it was unique to the league and the orange contrasted well with the dark blue of New York City’s flag (they had a nice farewell game in the apt Citi Field). There were a lot of fans that wanted another season out of the original ‘black and blues.’ We can expect the formal announcement sometime shortly before the season begins when MLS likes to do their uniform release week for all teams.
New York City FC’s 17-year-old phenom James Sands will likely play a larger role in Patrick Viera’s squad next year. Given what we’ve seen so far from the midfielder, there is a lot to look forward to with his efficient passing and excellent vision. This past year he had the opportunity to train with the likes of Andrea Pirlo and David Villa, and has shown poise well beyond his age. He continued to impress with the U-17 USA team this summer, which can lead us to see his name regularly in 2018. With the midfield currently consisting of a DP in Maxi Moralez, an MLS Newcomer of the Year candidate in Alex Ring, and the Venezuelan wrecking ball that is Yangel Herrera there may not be too many opportunities for Sands to regularly see the field, but it’s a long off-season and there are dominoes yet to fall.
A fresh designated player
With the official announcement of the maestro Andrea Pirlo’s retirement from professional soccer, NYCFC’s third DP slot is now open. There have been rumors that City Football Group is considering moving Yaya Toure, the long-time midfield stalwart for Manchester City, from Manchester to the Bronx. There’s a lot to unpack with that possibility, but at Hudson River Blue we’re hoping the front office looks more toward signing a younger talent in the vein of a Miguel Almiron or Josef Martinez, instead of an established/aging legend.
How this DP slot is filled will largely determine whether the Pigeons can close the gap with the top teams in the league and find more sustained success in the playoffs.
A better, more complete team
2017 was a marked improvement for Viera’s squad in almost all facets except for advancement in the playoffs. Viera has shown that he learns from his mistakes however, so it’s reasonable to assume that the 2018 version of the Pigeons will be more fine-tuned than the 2017 squad. Of course, that will all depend on player acquisitions and departures, but the front office has also proven that they can find non-DP players that will have an impact and regularly contribute.
More (uncertain) stadium talk!
Until there is an official statement from NYCFC and MLS in regard to the stadium site, speculation from disgruntled fans will run amok (see the fervor from a few weeks ago surrounding a throwaway rendering of an initial stadium pitch). We’ve written plenty on the aptly-named Soccer Specific Stadium Saga so check out those articles if you want to be equal parts curious about what might be and upset at what yet isn’t.
If there’s anything that you’re looking forward to for next season or if you have an idea for the new secondary kit, mention it in the comments below! If you don’t, I can’t promise that I won’t send the Sands-man after you to torment your dreams.
Honorable mention: CHICKEN BUCKETS BECAUSE NOTHING — NOTHING — BEATS A CHICKEN BUCKET IN THE BRONX.