There is nothing more valuable than a Designated Player contract in Major League Soccer. In a league so bent on parity, DP contracts — which allow teams to pay players monies above salary restrictions — are for those special, game-breaking players that lead your team to glory. And with only three at each team’s disposal, it’s imperative that these contracts be distributed with the utmost caution and scouting.
For New York City FC, however, their luck with DP designations has varied.
In their inaugural 2015 season, NYCFC spent half of the year with just one DP in legendary goalscorer David Villa. Come that summer, their second and third Designated Players were added — Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lamapard. Unfortunately, the Pirlo we got was a shell of the famed deep-lying playmaker we had seen in years prior and Lampard — though still viable statistically speaking — spent the majority of his time with the Boys in Blue on the injury report.
Following Lampard’s retirement from the sport, the club brought in attacking midfielder Maxi Moralez as their third DP in 2017. And though he and David Villa linked up on plenty of occasions, the aging Pirlo languished on the bench for a majority of the season. Any game time the Italian saw were marred by laziness and burnt out legs.
2018 was supposed to be different, with NYCFC bringing in the young Paraguayan Jesus Medina to usher in a new era for the Boys in Blue after Pirlo sailed off into the sunset. And at first, things looked really good. The 20-year-old Medina shined in his opening performances under manager Patrick Vieira, even netting a goal in his MLS debut against Sporting Kansas City.
But the honeymoon wouldn’t last long. After Vieira left his NYCFC post to further his coaching career with OGC Nice in Fance, Domé Torrent came in and all of sudden, Medina was on the bench.
Even after the departure of David Villa and the arrival of Alexandru Mitrita in 2019, City have still struggled to develop a system where all three DP’s can contribute. As a matter of fact, in the span of time where NYCFC have had their three current DP’s — Moralez, Medina, and Mitrita — the team hasn’t only played below expectations, but have played damn near terrible.
Earlier today, The Outfield revealed that City’s three DP’s have only played 4 out of a possible 46 games together. In that span, none of them have netted goals. And to make matters worse, they haven’t even logged a win in those four games with an abysmal record of 0-1-3 (W-D-L).
While Mitriţă, Medina, and Moralez have been NYCFC's DPs:— The Outfield (@OutfieldNYCFC) September 6, 2020
They've played 11% of available minutes together (all competitions). NYCFC has a +0 GD in those 502 minutes.
They've started 4 of 46 MLS games together. NYCFC is 0W-1D-3L with zero goals scored in those games.
Here's what NYCFC CEO Brad Sims told The Outfield about the club's DP situation in February: https://t.co/gLkQT9Z7XG pic.twitter.com/2X0ik3lALP— The Outfield (@OutfieldNYCFC) September 6, 2020
Unacceptable. That’s the only word that comes to mind.
The hope right now is that manager Ronny Deila — who took over for Torrent earlier this year — can somehow bring out the best in these players. So far, he has managed to squeeze production out of Medina, something we all thought was a lost cause prior to this season. And as of right now, Moralez still looks like the best attacking midfielder in the league when he’s healthy and ready to go.
If Deila & Co. can somehow manage to incorporate Mitrita into that equation, NYCFC can be put on track to accomplish any goals they set for themselves. But for right now, City fans can only dream of a future with three complimentary star players.