New York City FC held its annual Media Day at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on East 42nd Street in Manhattan, and Patrick Vieira didn’t show up until, like, more than two hours after the thing was supposed to start. I know you all probably assume that MLS writers are downright bedazzled with handsome salaries and enviable benefits, but I’m here to tell you that this is not exactly the case. Consequently, while Hudson River Blue was on hand to witness David Villa and Andrea Pirlo hold court, we didn’t get any hot managerial quotes due to outside commitments far less sexy in nature.
But all is not lost. We have a few educated guesses about what Patrick Vieira might have said if we were able to speak with him:
- “I am quite really pleased with how we work in training.”
- “I was really quite pleased with the way we created chances and stayed compact in the last game.”
- “What is important for us is to work really hard and and stick with our philosophy, and to make it really hard for our opponent on Sunday.”
As for reigning league MVP Villa and Gandalfian midfield wizard Pirlo, the tone was all business. It was ever-apparent that the two European superstars aren’t such fans of the Hollywood junket-style media car wash that we Americans have perfected, but their spirits were high all the same. On to the highlights:
PIRLO: I don't know if this will be my last season#NYCFC— Hudson River Blue (@hudsonriverblue) March 9, 2017
With Pirlo openly interested in returning to Italy in some capacity with Juventus once he’s hung up his boots for the last time, this is fair game. His current contract with NYCFC extends through the end of the year.
PIRLO: We have to play better than last year. We have more quality.#NYCFC— Hudson River Blue (@hudsonriverblue) March 9, 2017
VILLA: We want to give a present to our supporters on Sunday#NYCFC— Hudson River Blue (@hudsonriverblue) March 9, 2017
Footballing-as-gift-giving has become a go-to phrase for Villa, particularly following losses or in advance of shellackings by the Red Bulls. The smart money has to be on the Spaniard to deliver on Sunday— in two New York City home openers to date, Villa has three goals, including the first ever MLS goal at Yankee Stadium.
VILLA: Of all the new players, Maxi Moralez was the fastest in picking up Patrick Vieira's system#NYCFC— Hudson River Blue (@hudsonriverblue) March 9, 2017
Buenas noticias. But what about the other new boys?
VILLA: Rodney Wallace's experience is important. He's a physical player. He knows the league well#NYCFC— Hudson River Blue (@hudsonriverblue) March 9, 2017
PIRLO: Yangel Herrera arrived ten days ago. He needs to improve, to learn the tactics.#NYCFC— Hudson River Blue (@hudsonriverblue) March 9, 2017
Hmmm... but would he have scored that one-on-one that Alex Ring couldn’t last weekend?
In the big picture, both Pirlo and Villa both state unequivocally that this team has more quality that it did a year ago, and therefore must perform at a higher level. That’s no easy ask considering that the 2016 version of NYCFC not only had the league MVP...
VILLA: I'm not thinking defending the MVP. Of course, we hope an #NYCFC player takes the trophy again this year— Hudson River Blue (@hudsonriverblue) March 9, 2017
...but also finished second in the Eastern Conference and fourth overall in the regular season standings. Of course, with so many new guys arriving so late in the preseason, there’s bound to be a learning curve. We saw a bit of that on Sunday in Orlando, what with so many chances that went unfinished despite the match stats favoring New York City nearly across the board.
But on balance, the solemn professionalism of NYCFC’s two biggest stars at this year’s Media Day pointed to one thing: at this point, they’re used to the bright lights. They know the drill. They are the drill.
All that’s left is to start stacking cups.