MLS Cup has yet to be claimed, but the primary transfer window will be here before we know it. When that time comes, New York City FC can start signing players to add to their 17-man squad; they have a DP slot and three international roster spots to utilize while acquiring this new talent.
While the team’s deficiencies could also be addressed in the multitude of MLS drafts, players singed during the transfer window are more likely to make an instant impact. When the window opens, NYCFC should hit the ground running. But which positions are the team’s biggest needs?
1. Right back
At the end of the season, New York City had three three backs on their roster: Ethan White, RJ Allen, and Andraz Struna. Plus, Shannon Gomez was on loan in the USL. Now, they have none. Theoretically any of these players could be brought back on new terms, but that is unlikely because White, Allen, and Gomez all received goodbye messages from the team. Struna has yet to receive one, so out of the four he is the one most likely to come back. Assuming Struna doesn’t return though, NYCFC don’t have a right back rostered. So, they will need to sign at least two that can play in Vieira’s demanding system, making this position the most important one to fill.
2. DP winger
One of NYCFC’s biggest needs is their lack of a proven goal scorer not named David Villa. Jack Harrison was very consistent until midseason when he virtually stopped scored goals, and he might be sold anyway. Rodney Wallace is a great two-way winger, but is not yet a proven goal scorer. Ideally, NYCFC will use their open Designated Player slot to sign someone like Hector Villalba: young, capable of scoring and assisting, and able to be sold for a profit in the future. They need to nail this signing if they want to compete with Toronto FC. They would do well focusing on youth, instead of signing a big name from Europe (Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard).
3. Center forward
NYCFC have had limited success with center forwards outside of Villa. Adam Nemec, Sean Okoli, and Khiry Shelton have all struggled to become viable options off of the bench. With David Villa getting up in age, City need to sign a younger option that can make an impact when he’s out. The team struggled without their captain this year. That cannot happen next year.
Eirik Johansen had his option declined. That leaves Sean Johnson — the incumbent starter — and Andre Rawls, NYCFC’s only non-first-round draft pick to stick. Johnson was one of the better keepers in the league this year, but it would be smart to have a solid backup to push him and spot start if necessary. If Rawls is the backup, then signing a third-choice goalkeeper won’t really be a major priority of the front office. NYCFC just need to sign another goalie, plain and simple.
5. Center back
Center back and center midfield are basically equal needs. Center back is ranked higher because NYCFC have less depth at the position. James Sands is listed as a defender, but it would be surprising for him play center back, as Vieira sees him more as a holding midfielder. Meanwhile, Alexander Callens and Maxime Chanot will be returning, which is very exciting. New York City may still be negotiating Frederic Brillant‘s return because they haven’t yet posted a goodbye for him either. NYCFC have also been linked to Nahuel Ferraresi, Yangel Herrera’s Venezuelan U20 teammate. If they re-sign Brillant and can sign Ferraresi, they will be set at center back
6. Center midfielder
With the news that Herrera is sticking around for another year, midfield becomes City’s deepest position. They could use some more players to fill out the squad, but it shouldn’t be a big worry.
NYCFC are lucky. As of now, they are returning 10 out of 11 starters from a team with one of the best starting XIs in MLS. They just need to fill their last DP slot with a young, goal-scoring winger, and bolster the team’s depth. If they can do that, they stand a chance at knocking off Toronto from the top of the Eastern Conference.
What do you think should be NYCFC’s biggest offseason priority? Leave a comment below.