With both Ronald Matarrita and Rodney Wallace heading to Russia to represent the Costa Rican national team in the 2018 World Cup, as well as injuries to Maxime Chanot and Yangel Herrera, New York City FC have some serious work to do if they wish to still be contenders throughout the dog days of summer. And despite constant rumblings of him taking his talents to Ligue 1 in the not-so-distant future, Patrick Vieira’s job (for now) is to keep the Blues’ heads above water and make the necessary changes to keep them near the top.
A good solution — especially one with possible long-term implications — is playing your younger players.
It is no secret that young talents like Jonathan Lewis and James Sands have been lost in the shuffle since the beginning of the 2018 season. Both Lewis and Sands have yet to play a single minute thus far this year, a scary number when you take into consideration that these are two players who are expected to be future stars for the team.
With the academies of teams like the New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake, and FC Dallas producing quality young talent that can become future premier players both in MLS and abroad, there is no reason to believe that NYCFC — a team with an almost unlimited amount of resources behind them — can’t do the same. Such information makes Vieira’s reluctance to play his younger players even more puzzling.
Granted, this decision hasn’t been completely unjustified. After all, new acquisitions like Jesus Medina and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi have been absolutely tearing it up more often than not. But I can’t be the only one who thinks players like Lewis or Sands deserve a better look than guys like Jo Inge Berget or Rodney Wallace, who have had opportunity after opportunity to prove their statuses as fixtures within the gameday squad.
I don’t mean to pick on Berget or Wallace, as they have both have their moments of brilliance in the past that should be acknowledged. But, as of recently, these two players have struggled to make a tangible impact upon games..
Admittedly, I’m not the one watching these players training throughout the week. And there is absolutely a chance that my perception of NYCFC’s personnel could and would change if given that opportunity. But despite that, a game day atmosphere is different than what you experience on the training field.
All I’m saying is this: it is worth a shot.