The Pigeons looked like one of the best teams in the league to open the season last year, but the loss of Patrick Vieira combined with a few key injuries took NYCFC out of Shield contention and another Eastern semifinal exit. Now NYC faces its first season without leader David Villa.
Tactics & Key Players
Dome Torrent was very fond of changing tactics, which each lineup featuring different faces and different combinations, but for the most part it never worked. I think the reason is that while David Villa accumulated a lot of great stats on his own, he never played well with the others on the team. What I mean is that while Villa was great, he never made anyone else great. Instead of utilizing City’s variety of skilled attackers, City players would look instead to pass to the well-covered Villa and it showed. NYCFC scored 1.6 goals per game Villa appeared in; without that number jumped to 1.9 (and they were never shut out without Villa), and this resulted in more points: 1.43 points with Villa, 2.09 points without Villa. NYC struggled with Villa under both Vieira and Torrent, and it’s likely neither could overcome Villa’s natural offensive gravity in such a young squad.
However, NYCFC at the moment has no striker, having lost both Villa and Berget. While there have been flirtations with various strikers, at the moment the backup plan appears to be having one of Valentin “Taty” Castellanos, Medina, or new signing Mitrita play a false 9.
You’ll likely see mostly a 4-3-3, although a 4-4-2 is not out of the question with the state of the personnel. Torrent, a long-time assistant to Pep Guardiola, prefers a possession game with the wingers very wide while the fullbacks move up high and cut inside.
Your biggest and most consistent contributor to the attack will be Maxi Moralez, while the men up front are rotated. One of the bigger questions is how much time Jonathan Lewis will see off an impressive January camp with the USMNT. While Lewis was in Dome’s doghouse for the end of 2018, it seems like Lewis is showing Dome the right attitude to earn minutes, and every appearance Lewis has made he’s shown he’s very dangerous going forward. I suspect Lewis, Tajouri, Medina and Taty will be rotated a lot depending on matchup and schedule.
The defense starts with Alex Ring, now the captain, who will be assisted likely by newcomer Keaton Parks. The backline doesn’t have any major changes, although I think Matarrita will see more minutes than he did last year if he stays healthy. However, Dome’s style obviously lead to NYC conceding more goals on the counter, so unless a preseason helps Dome instill the defensive discipline required there may not be much fantasy value here.
The biggest is the loss of Villa, but don’t overlook the loss of Angel Herrera, who’s injury played a key part in NYC’s fall. City have brought it US International Keaton Parks on loan from Benfica, and he’s impressed playing in Herrera’s position. They have also signed a younger US international with European experience, Juan Pablo Torres, although I suspect he’s more likely to be Ring’s backup. Parks will compete with NYC’s first HG, James Sands, who has earned Dome’s praises.
The biggest signing of course is Mitrita (Mi-Treats-a) who is City’s 3rd DP. While he may get shuffled into the False 9, his natural position appears to be playing a Giovinco-type role (indeed that Mitrita’s favorite player), which would put him on the left wing.
This team will frustrate the heck out of you, as their depth and Dome’s predilection for tactical tinkering will make predicting a starters a dicey venture. NYC have 5 DGWs too, and they’re home heavy ones too so you’ll have little choice but to address it. You’ll want to avoid their defense and rely mostly on their two stars, Mitrita and Moralez, with the other wingers deployed in switcheroo type options.