After taking a short break to allow fans to enjoy the 2018 World Cup festivities (at least for the group stages), New York City FC resumes play on June 24 against Eastern Conference rivals and defending MLS Cup champions Toronto FC. This is NYCFC’s first game without manager Patrick Vieira who departed for OGC Nice a few weeks ago, and is supposed to be the coming-out-party for new boss Domènec Torrent.
Unfortunately, no such party may be happening. At least, not right now.
A few days ago, MLSSoccer.com confirmed that Torrent had yet to arrive in New York, with NYCFC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna disclosing issues with the Spanish manager obtaining his US visa.
“We’re working through the visa/work permit situation, which we’re trying to expedite as quick as we can,” Reyna said. “In the meantime, we’re closely communicating with him and he’s able to watch the training and speak to Javier [Perez] and Rob [Vartughian].”
When asked to give an estimate on Torrent’s arrival, Reyna said they were expecting him some time this week. In the interim, Perez and Vartughian — as well as some academy coaches — have been responsible for training the team.
Should Torrent’s entrance be made before Sunday’s matchup, then all is well good. If it isn’t, however, NYCFC may have some issues.
Thus far in 2018, Toronto have gotten off to a terrible start. The defending champs and 2018 CONCACAF Champions League finalists have only managed 15 points through 14 games and have showed little semblance to the absolutely dominating form they had throughout their historical 2017 season.
But, despite all of that, they’re still Toronto and they shouldn’t be taken lightly. Their squad hasn’t changed all that much since last year and it feels like it’s only a matter of time before the Reds start improving. Also, while Perez and Vartughian have both been with NYCFC for quite some time, they both have little experience with head coaching and that inexperience could play right into the hands of a hungry TFC that is desperate for points.
While Torrent isn’t expected to deviate too far from the system implemented by his predecessor given his history, there is no doubt that his philosophy will come with a few variations. As such, it should be expected that it will take NYCFC a little time to adapt to such changes, no matter how slight.
The sooner Torrent claims his position as shot-caller in the Bronx, the better prepared and equipped the Bronx Blues will be for Toronto and future opponents as well. But time is running out.