With opening day
of the 2018 MLS season almost upon us well past us at this point, let’s take a better-late-than-never look at the new and improved New York City FC roster. There have been nine(!!) new signings for the club this off-season, adding to an impressive group of returning starters that helped lead the team to a conference semifinal appearance last season. Three of those additions will play as Forwards in Vieira’s preferred 4-3-3 system.
Jo Inge Berget
Jonathan Lewis, acquired in last year’s MLS Superdraft, exhibited a lot of excitement coming off the bench for the Boys in Blue in 2017. A player who likes to attack defenders and isn’t shy with the ball at his feet, there is a lot of excitement around Lewis as he should see a good amount of starts and play from the bench.
New to the club, Tajouri and Berget fill different needs. A true no. 9 who has the versatility to play across the front three, Berget is hopeful to be the target striker that the club has longed for after Villa (#AdamNemecForever). Tajouri is a pacey player and has shown his speed down the touchline, offering the squad more depth and versatility behind Villa and Medina. All of Patrick Vieira’s forwards will see the playing field for the Pigeons, but who will be able to score the goals when Villa can’t — or otherwise unable — to score them himself?
That’s the question that will need answering.
Villa, Wallace, and Medina will all be the starting forwards in Patrick Vieira’s 4-3-3 system, with Villa playing the center forward position and Wallace and Medina taking up the flanks. Villa, now 36, has shown no signs of slowing down as ‘El Guaje’ continues to be an exemplary Designated Player signing for both NYCFC and the league as a whole. The team’s all-time leading goal scorer will be expected to bear the lion’s share of the goal scoring for the club, but some of the new signings will look to ease that burden for the Captain.
Speaking of new signings, the club’s first ever ‘Young Designated Player’ Jesus Medina brings with him a lot of buzz and excitement. Already this season, the 20-year-old Paraguayan has shown why he is worth the DP designation and is a part of the current influx of young talents from the South and Latin America’s to MLS. It is expected that Medina will both score and create goals, filling the void that fan-favorite Jack Harrison left after his departure across the pond.
Rodney Wallace currently holds down the last and (arguably) only spot in contention across this front three. Wallace began the 2017 campaign on fire but his contributions tapered off towards the end of the season. Although Vieira has decided to stick with Wallace to begin the 2018 campaign, there is a good chance that if he under-performs Vieira will give one of the three other bench players a shot to break into the Starting XI.
With a much deeper roster and simply better players across the entirety of the starting lineup, the Boys in Blue have made their intentions for 2018 clear: MLS Cup or bust.