Three of those declined options made sense. Medina was a Designated Player who never quite lived up to his contract, Pablo Torres hardly appeared for NYCFC, and Rocha was a much-loved but aging backup. But Thórarinsson? The defender started 20 games for NYCFC in 2021, logging 1660 minutes and scoring two goals — one of which was the now-legendary free kick in the 89th minute against Atlanta United on October 20. That goal tied the game, ending a losing streak that threatened to keep NYCFC out of the playoffs, and out of contention for the MLS Cup.
Speaking of, Thórarinsson started the MLS Cup Finals at left-back, putting in a strong performance that helped set up the team to win. When he was substituted off in the 92nd minute for Malte Amundsen in what presumably was a time-wasting tactic by head coach Ronny Deila, NYCFC were up 1-0. Two minutes later, Felipe Mora scored for Portland Timbers to make it 1-1 and force the game into overtime.
Of all the offseason transactions made by NYCFC, the decision not to re-sign Thórarinsson was the most surprising, and arguably the most mistaken: In a piece for Hudson River Blue, Noah Kassell-Yung didn’t mince his words, and gave the front office an “F.”
Why did NYCFC not extend Thórarinsson’s contract? Amundsen was tapped to take over the starting role, for one. Thórarinsson made $400,000 in 2021, which is high by the standards of MLS for a 30-year-old backup, but surely a more appropriate salary could be negotiated. Homegrown Chris Gloster has been filling in when Amundsen isn’t available, and while he has had his moments this season, he can be jumpy and make mistakes.
It’s time to bring back Thórarinsson. The left-back is without a club after playing in the Danish top-flight with Aalborg BK, and NYCFC are thin in defense. Thórarinsson could get up to speed training with NYCFC II, taking advantage of one of the defining characteristics of playing in MLS NEXT Pro, a development league that doesn’t have a maximum age limit specifically to let older professionals play.
Enigmatic sporting director David Lee doesn’t like drama, and a move like this should suit him: A fan favorite will return to the Bronx (and Queens, and Harrison, NJ), and a seasoned player familiar with the team’s system will add depth and experience to a squad that could use both right now, all presumably a bargain price.
Sounds like a Gudi idea to us — we hope to see Thórarinsson’s name in NYCFC’s Twitter feed soon.