When New York City FC announced that they had parted ways with team captain Alexander Ring in exchange for up to $1.25 million in General Allocated Money (GAM) from Austin FC a few weeks ago, fans were predictably divided on the move. Most were perplexed with the club about their willingness to deal out one of their best players over the past several seasons.
Just days after Christmas, we learned that Ronald Matarrita — City’s longest tenured player at that point — had been traded to FC Cincinnati for up to $600,000 in GAM. This change wasn’t met with as much resistance from supporters for... well, obvious reasons.
Shortly before either move was made, NYCFC had traded some cash to the Portland Timbers for an additional international roster slot in 2021.
Right now, we are seeing a trend — NYCFC are seemingly gearing up for a big offseason. As the deals are structured, City has received in excess of $1 million in GAM ahead of 2021. Though that doesn’t seem like a lot in sports terms, every penny of it counts in a salary capped league such as MLS.
And I haven’t even mentioned the best part. In 2021, NYCFC will have two open Designated Player spots on their roster with Alexandru Mitrita playing out the remainder of his contract overseas and Jesus Medina losing his “Young DP” designation.
We haven’t seen New York City have more than one DP roster spot open since before their inaugural 2015 season. Since the original DP trio of David Villa, Frank Lampard, and Andrea Pirlo, NYCFC have had to replace each marquee player incrementally. Following Lampard retiring from the game in 2016, City brought in Maxi Moralez for the 2017 season. And when Pirlo had finally decided to begin his post-career vacation proper after 2017, Jesus Medina came in. Finally, after David Villa shipped off to Japan to finish his career, Alexandru Mitrita was called upon prior to 2019.
With tons of money in the reserves and an opening for two marquee signings that will have minimal impact upon the club’s salary hit, New York City can — in theory — build their roster however they wish with as minimal of obstacles as possible.
Another source of interest comes in the form of manager Ronny Deila. The Norwegian boss took over the Boys in Blue in January and had little time to adjust before NYCFC had to begin their competitive season with the CONCACAF Champions League in February. Factor in the four-month break in play from March to July due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and NYCFC didn’t get a chance to truly establish an identity under Deila’s leadership.
With a proper, full offseason and a ton of resources at his disposal, Deila has a chance to mold the Blues in his image. 2020 was an abnormal year, without question. And though I still have my criticisms of how he wants to play, I’m willing to give Deila a more “normal” 2021 season to prove that he can bring NYCFC silverware with his footballing philosophy.
Love him or hate him, Deila is at the helm of NYCFC’s most important offseason to date. And this time, there can be no excuses. Whether they be about money, personnel, match congestion... anything — NYCFC have never been in such a prime position to control their own destiny.