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HRB Roundtable: A look back at 2023, Part 2

What is this team's identity after missing the playoffs? Who should stay? Go?

Teamwork makes the dream work |

Welcome to the second part of the Hudson River Blue Roundtable that dissects a less-than-ideal 2023 season for New York City FC. Read on to see how Corey Clayton, Andrew Leigh, Matthew Mangam, Raf Noboa y Rivera, Mark Radigan, and Oliver Strand try to make sense of the year that just ended.

You will find Part 1 here.

6. Are NYCFC still NYCFC?

Oliver Strand: Did this season change how you look at NYCFC?

Corey Clayton: One season can be just a blip. Look at the two teams in the World Series this year — the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers. They both lost about 90 games in 2022 and bounced back to win 84 and 90 this year, respectively, to get into the MLB Postseason as wild cards and beat all the favorites. And that was in a league with no salary cap — capped leagues like the NFL, NHL, and MLS offer far more opportunity to reverse your fortunes year to year. 

So no, if David Lee and Nick Cushing are worth their salt, they can course-correct and field the right squad to get the Pigeons back to their rightful place in the East Top 4. 

If they can’t, they both need to go before 2025, if not sooner. 

Matthew Mangam: NYCFC is in a weird spot right now. I think the squad for next season has enough talent to make the playoffs, but there are still some things that need to be addressed. Although Nick Cushing is most likely returning, I feel more positive about NYCFC for next season than I felt for NYCFC before the start of the 2023 season. 

Raf Noboa y Rivera: No. I think this roster had some serious deficiencies in 2023 that were fixed by the end of the season. I don’t think it’s a title-winning roster, but it’s sufficiently talented to make the playoffs and win some games. That this didn’t happen doesn’t change my overall opinion of the team.

Mark Radigan: This roster is competitive. But you have to look at the market as well. A New York team can’t settle for mediocrity, the fans won’t stand for it. I fully expect NYCFC to be more competitive next year, and at least lock up a Wild Card spot. 

Andrew Leigh:  I view them as a team still in transition, still figuring itself out after progressively tearing down the squad that won MLS Cup. Confidence is higher here at the very end of the 2023 season even despite the playoff miss, because there does still seem to be a promising nucleus of young talent in place that, if improved further this winter, could plausibly climb back up the table in 2024. 

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