It’s been a whirlwind few days for New York City FC. On Saturday, Patrick Vieira managed his last game in Gotham, coming away with a draw against Atlanta United. The rumors swirling around him taking over French club OGC Nice were prematurely confirmed by Manchester City, not New York City, Sunday evening -- which led to a fair bit of fury among NYC fans.
The question of who would replace Vieira, however, was much less clear. While some folks had mentioned MLS lifers like Bruce Arena and Caleb Porter, the general understanding was that CFG would keep the hiring in the family so to speak. If they wanted to wait until the off-season to make a permanent hire, the obvious choice was Javier Perez.
Perez has been with New York City since December of 2015. Before joining the Pigeons, Perez coached the U.S. Under-18 men’s team for four years. If you’re looking for a man to shepherd young talent, it’s arguable that Perez is probably your best choice. He spent six years as a coach with Real Madrid, and holds both a UEFA Pro license from the Spanish federation and an A license from the English federation. More to the point: he’s worked closely with New York City technical director Claudio Reyna in developing the U.S. coaching curriculum, back when Reyna was the youth technical director for U.S. Soccer.
But a new name popped up last night: Domènec Torrent. Roberto Abramowitz, who calls New York City games in Spanish and is generally very well clued-in to the CFG hierarchy, received a couple of tips that Torrent was in pole position to take over from Vieira. Most notably, Pep Guardiola — the Man City manager, and the man at whose side Torrent has deputized for the last decade — was pushing very hard for him to get the appointment.
Now it’s official. So what kind of coach is Torrent, and what can New York City fans expect?
First things first: Torrent was instrumental in forging the astonishing run of success that Guardiola’s experienced in Europe. He generally sat next to Pep on the bench, and notably was the only man who delivered team talks during games other than Pep. He’s won 24 trophies while working with Guardiola, and is — aside from Pep himself — probably the man most steeped in how City play and approach the game.
He’s also got managerial experience, most recently with Girona in Spain, but that was back in 2006, for a single season.
If you were expecting drastic changes in how New York City played, think again. This is a team that will likely stick with a 4-3-3 formation, that will look to build from the back, and that will press to regain possession as soon as they lose it. None of that will change.
What might change is who starts and plays for New York City. But even so, don’t expect drastic changes there. Torrent will look to accustom himself to the players he’s got, and how the league plays, before doing anything lineup-wise. He seems to be the kind of coach who will “play the kids”, so to speak. But, as with anything else, time will tell.
In any event, a moment of transition for New York City has now arrived. It’ll be interesting to see how Torrent approaches a team that Vieira has massively improved in his two-plus seasons.