With opening day of the 2018 MLS season almost upon us, let’s take a look at the new and improved New York City FC roster. There have been nine (!!) new signings for the club this offseason, adding to an impressive group of returning starters that helped lead the team to a conference semifinal appearance last season.
Starting with the keepers, the Pigeons have brought two new faces into the fold: Brad Stuver and Jeff Caldwell. Sean Johnson — the club’s no. 1 option in 2017 — returns and looks to pick up where he left off. How will the goalie depth chart shake out for the 2018 season?
4. The Reserve: Andre Rawls
Acquired in the third round of the 2015 SuperDraft, Rawls hasn’t yet been able to crack the matchday 18 for the Boys in Blue. With the two offseason additions of fellow goalies Stuver and Caldwell, the expectation is that we probably won’t see Rawls outside of the training ground. This may be the year that he’s loaned out for playing time.
3. The Project: Jeff Caldwell
The Pigeons’ 2018 SuperDraft first-round choice was University of Virginia’s Jeff Caldwell. A 22-year old keeper with back-to-back all-ACC honors, Caldwell fits into Patrick Vieira’s passing-focused system where the keeper is expected to be comfortable with the ball at his feet and in distribution. Caldwell fits that mold. Although he could challenge Stuver for the second spot, and he may appear once or twice with the first team, Caldwell is more of a long-term project that requires some development.
2. The Fresh Face: Brad Stuver
After spending the last few seasons as somewhere between the second and third choice for Columbus (#savethecrew), NYCFC acquired the 26-year-old keeper as a strong backup option to Johnson. Stuver has gotten a good chunk of playing time this preseason and has shown that he is worthy of the backup slot. Also able to distribute from the back and make athletic saves, Stuver should fit nicely when SeanJohn needs a break.
1. The Incumbent: Sean Johnson
Coming off of a strong 2017 season in which he made 32 starts, Johnson’s position atop the depth chart is secure. Turning in a few highlight-worthy performances and leading the club to its best-ever regular season in 2017, Johnson looks to hold strong as Vieira’s no. 1 netminder.
With SeanJohn’s return and the additions of Stuver and Caldwell, NYCFC look confident with their options at GK to make another playoff run in 2018. Stay tuned for a look at NYCFC’s defenders.