It’s no secret that I’ve been one of Domé Torrents most unwavering of critics. For a while, I made it clear that I was not a fan of the Spanish coach and his perplexing way of approaching tactics and lineup selection. And there’s a reason for that.
For the record, I’m not drinking the “Haterade” or anything like that. As a matter of fact, I wrote this article of appraisal about Torrent in the weeks following his appointing as manager following the departure of Patrick Vieira, and was one of his biggest supporters heading into the backstretch of the 2018 season.
Then, the wheels started to come off.
In their final 9 games of the season last year, New York City FC managed to notch only two wins, neither of them being against impressive teams — a 2-0 win against a lousy Chicago Fire and a 3-1 win in the season finale against the then-mediocre Philadelphia Union. NYCFC managed to beat Philly again one week later to get past the knockout round in the playoffs, but were then quietly dispatched by the eventual champions Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Needless to say, I started to develop some reservations as to whether or not Torrent was the right guy for the job. Still, I kept my mouth shut. I wasn’t prepared to burn it all down just yet and was willing to give the former Pep Guardiola assistant a full preseason to get his bearings and build a team — minus David Villa and Yangel Herrera — in his image.
And initially, things were not good.
NYCFC went winless in their first six games of the 2019 season, a stretch that culminated in an 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Toronto FC and Alejandro Pozuelo. To this point, City had won only four of their last 20 games, playoffs included. And I had seen enough.
On March 30, 2019, I wrote an article calling for Domé to be fired.
I want to be absolutely crystal clear; I do not regret writing the #DoméOut article. If I could go back in time, I’d write it again and maybe even make it a bit longer. Because not a single true fan of this club can tell me that, at that point, they weren’t feeling the same way I was. And if they say otherwise, they are either blind or they’re lying. Sorry, there’s no middle ground there.
But things have changed quite a bit since then, haven’t they?
Since the blowout in the Six, NYCFC haven’t lost a game and have posted a record of 4-0-3 (W-L-D), with wins coming over the likes of D.C. United, the Chicago Fire, Montreal Impact, and the LA Galaxy. This is, undoubtedly, an impressive string a games especially considering all of them have been clean sheets, with three of those coming on the road. And three consecutive road clean sheets has never been done in team history.
There have been two major changes in this stretch which have contributed to this surge of positive outcomes for the Blues.
1.) Torrent did away with the 4-3-3 that was obviously not working and has instead implemented a fresh 3-4-3/5-3-2 hybrid which includes full backs Ronald Matarrita and Anton Tinnerholm both as wide midfielders/wingbacks — with the gaps being filled by Alexander Ring and Ebenezer Ofori — and James Sands as the middle center back in a back-three, with Maxime Chanot and Alexander Callens covering the wide areas.
2.) The signing of Héber, who has collected three goals and two assists in seven games, five of them being starts.
Both of these alterations to the formula have payed dividends in collecting results and catapulting NYCFC up the table.
So, the results are there. The general attitude towards NYCFC’s (or Domé’s) tactics has become more sweet than sour.
But am I off the #DomeOut train? Sort of, but I’m still telling the conductor to keep the keys, or whatever the hell makes trains work, in the ignition just in case.
Before you grill me in the comments or on Twitter, please indulge some of my concerns for just a second.
Yes, NYCFC has had a good run of form recently. No doubt about it. But only on the road. Within the familiar — and narrow — confines of Yankee Stadium, City is still struggling to yield good returns with their last two home games being a scrappy 1-0 win over an underwhelming Chicago side, and a 1-1 draw against an equally underwhelming Orlando City. If City is for real and a contender for silverware, then they have to be able to win their home games. Period.
Also, we’ve seen this before. In his first six games with club, Torrent won five of them before the absolute shitshow that were the months of July and August. It’s what happens after things go wrong for the first time that will define whether or not Domé can hack it in the five boroughs.
Without a doubt, I love NYCFC. I don’t just do this as a job — covering this team is a passion of mine. And like anyone who loves their team, I want to see them (and their coach) do well. I didn’t call for Domé’s job because it was the cool thing to do at the time. No, I did it because I thought that it would be best for the team moving forward. When you have such a strong love for something or someone, it’s important to maintain at least somewhat of a slight skepticism. Not because you like to see the negativity in things, but just to be safe. There’s an old saying: “love is blind.” That may be true, but love can also make you blind to certain inadequacies and less-than-ideal scenarios.
Let me put it this way: I still have my reservations. How can I not, considering past events? But does Doménec Torrent deserve a second chance? Absolutely. And, until given reason to do so, I’m willing to see this out.