Thomas McNamara, First of His Name, cannot be killed. An epic ACL tear was supposed to derail his career; the player went and punched Fate in its dumb face. Bigger names were supposed to keep him from high-leverage minutes; instead, he became a fan favorite and one of North American soccer’s pre-eminent snipers.
And this year, he’s even better. Ahead of this weekend’s home opener at Yankee Stadium, check out what Tommy had to say about his outlook for New York City FC in 2017.
On why Patrick Vieira is a special manager:
I think it’s his work ethic. I think when you see the way he works, that convinces you of somebody you can follow and trust. The way he communicates his ideas across, and I think it’s ... just the personality, it’s very charismatic. You’re kinda drawn to it a little bit. It’s hard to really explain.
He looked at me without any preconceived notions. Hes very open-minded about his judgments on me as a player, and I’m grateful for that because it gave me the chance to understand what I can do as a player and not what I can’t do.
I’ve really enjoyed working with him. I’ve learned a lot the last season, and I feel like I’m gonna develop and grow even more this year.
On his best position on the pitch:
I feel more comfortable playing in the middle, but I don’t have a problem playing out wide. The way that I usually play out wide isn’t as a straight out-and-out winger, it’s usually kind of coming inside more and underneath and playing more stylistically similar to an attacking midfielder.
On how his game has improved, and what he’s working on:
I think my understanding of the game has gotten a lot better, specifically my movement off the ball. Not necessarily to create space for myself, but to create space for my teammates. If you look at last year, kind of the people I was playing around, it was mostly for [Ronald] Matarrita and for David Villa.
I think my composure grew leaps and bounds over last year, and how I feel going into this season. And I think the biggest thing ... I want to improve upon this year [that] I think last year as well I improved upon is being more goal-dangerous, creating more chances. I want to continue to grow in that area and being even more dangerous in the final third.
On his ultimate goal for this 2017 campaign:
It’s 100% for sure to win the championship. That’s without a doubt. But before we start talking about that, there’s a lot to come before MLS Cup Final, right? And so it’s kind of just focusing on the day-to-day, what can I do today to make myself better, what can I do today to better prepare myself, and what can I do today so that come time I can win an MLS Cup?