After an unmerciful steamrolling of the Jacksonville University Dolphins and a spirited fightback in Ecuador against hosts CS Emelec, the New York City FC preseason heads to Arizona. Welcome to the Desert Diamond Cup— it’s kinda like the Carolina Challenge Cup, but with dry heat and cacti instead of she-crab soup and pirate lore.
A couple of changes are in the offing for Patrick Vieira’s Boys in Blue since the jaunt down to Guayaquil. Trialist Roberto Louima, a striker from Haiti, is not listed among the ranks, while the once-and-future Mix Diskerud has returned for selection.
Here’s the master list of those making the trip to Tucson:
[Pro trialists in bold, unsigned rookies in italics, badass godlike academy kids in ALL CAPS]
GK: Eirik Johansen, Sean Johnson, Andre Rawls
DEF: RJ Allen, Kwame Awuah, Frederic Brillant, Maxime Chanot, Shannon Gomez, Ronald Matarrita, JAMES SANDS, Ben Sweat, Ethan White
MID: Jalen Brown, Miguel Camargo, Mix Diskerud, Jack Harrison ,Tommy McNamara , Andrea Pirlo, Khiry Shelton, John Stertzer, Chris Wingate
FWD: Sean Okoli, David Villa
It’s worth noting that City Scion James Sands, the 16 year old Academy wunderkind, is listed as a defender after playing the last two contests as a defensive mid. We have no problem with this ostensible change; the kid is raw as hell, but boasts an impressive ceiling beyond his years— Patrick Viera went as far as saying that he has the mind of a 30 year old! I mean, faaack! Why not test him with a different look?
As for the other guys fighting for a first team spot, we’re officially advocating for John Stertzer. Give the man a contract already. The front office could presumably sign the former Kyle Beckerman understudy for the league minimum, a small price to pay for a veteran that can interdict oncoming attackers and make pragmatic decisions with the ball. It certainly helps that he’s found himself in the right place at the right time in two exhibition games running, including notching the equalizing goal just before the death at Emelec.
Kwame Awuah is another guy that we like, too. He projects as a fullback in MLS, but don’t count this kid out with the ball at his feet on the charge into the danger area. Sean Okoli gave him a shout-out for assisting on the former FC Cincinnati man’s left-footed wondershot in Ecuador. As a first-round SuperDraft pick in January, the as-yet-unsigned Connecticut Huskies grad is essentially a lock to earn a contract. But we wouldn’t mind seeing more hotness before we start reallyREALLY gushing.
Mixy & Co. will begin their poppings-off in the southwest on Wednesday (2/15) against the lovely, adorable New Jersey Red Bulls. The match will air live at 4:00pm ET on YES.
On Saturday (2/18) NYCFC clashes with Houston at 8:00pm ET. That one’s also on YES.
The following Wednesday (2/22), the good guys battle the Colorado Rapids at 1:00pm ET. If a broadcast or streaming option is announced between now and then, we will let you know in no uncertain terms.
The Bronx Blues finish off their Arizona Dream on the 25th of February, a Saturday. The opponent and kickoff time have yet to be determined.