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10 things we don’t know about this NYCFC team

Pondering destiny 19 games into the regular season

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
  1. When will New York City stop conceding first? The Boys in Blue have allowed the opening goal in four of their last five MLS games, and five of seven. That’s insane.
  2. The Andrea Pirlo exit strategy: Surely the team has figured out how this will work, right? It’s a waste of a DP spot.
  3. Could NYCFC win a game without Alex Ring and Jack Harrison? Like, any game? They’ve proven that they can survive for 90 minutes without Maxi Moralez or even David Villa, but the Ringmaster and Battlin’ Jack are as irreplaceable as they come. If yellow cards (Ring already has 7) or the injury bug become problems down the stretch, how rough could things get in the Five Boroughs?
  4. The Red Bull hex: New York City’s extended Hudson River Derby curse does appear to be lifted, but we’re still playing it cautious. A resounding victory on August 6th would properly signal that the rivalry has experienced a much-needed hard reset.
  5. Who’s the best bet at right fullback? Ethan White has played more than double the minutes of RJ Allen this year, but hasn’t gone the full 90 since May 31st. The more aggressive Allen has been the guy for most of the summer, but is prone to running himself right out of position. All told, Patrick Vieira has proven that he can win big games with either guy, but fullback-by-committee isn’t a long-term strategy.
  6. Say YES to duress: One day, we envision a time when this team will never play a game that has to be televised on tape delay. Indeed, the YES Network belongs to the Yankees, who also own 20% of NYCFC. But It’s 2017 and multiple games every season aren’t televised live in the biggest media market ever conceived. Unfortunately, we’re not convinced that a solution is in the offing.
  7. What the future holds for Jack & Mata: This team doesn’t have a reputation as a big seller— does it look like City Football Group pinches pennies? That said, Jack Harrison and Ronald Matarrita have been the subject of European rumors for months. Mata’s injury woes have made things that much less predictable, but this could very well be the last full season they play together in MLS.
  8. Is Miguel Camargo good? There’s evidence on both sides. Scoring against the United States in the Gold Cup felt really, really weird...
  9. The CONCACAF Kids: It’s possible that NYCFC ends up qualifying for CONCACAF Champions League. That competition requires a tremendous amount of depth; most MLS teams just can’t compete, and their domestic form suffers besides. If the Boys in Blue do make it in for 2018 2019, it’s an open question as to whether or not that’s a good thing.
  10. Are these boys for real? Here’s our not-so-terribly-hot take: we still won’t know the answer to this question even after New York City’s upcoming run of tough fixtures (Toronto - Chicago - Toronto - Red Bulls). Yes, TFC and the Fire are top of the East. Yes, the Red Bulls are the Red Bulls. But your playoff seed, as crazy as it sounds, is actually a poor predictor of MLS Cup chances! If this team does hoist the Cup this December, it’ll be because they got hot down the stretch; it won’t have anything to do with what happened in July.