New York City FC suffered key losses to their roster since their elimination from the MLS playoffs last month, but the future looks bright for the team as they look to shake things up entering their third season in 2017.
NYCFC (15-10-9, 54 points) finished second in the Eastern Conference behind the cross-Hudson rival New York Red Bulls. The team made its first appearance in the postseason, but was booted after a disappointing 7-0 aggregate loss to eventual Eastern Conference champion Toronto FC.
Head coach Patrick Vieira and Claudio Reyna, director of football operations, face a daunting task in looking for young players that will further help their club reach the playoffs again. The losses of veterans Frank Lampard (finished term), Andoni Iraola (retirement) and Mehdi Ballouchy (retirement) leave a gap for NYCFC moving forward.
Here are three roles City needs to fill before next season:
With Lampard’s departure, the team has an opening for a third designated player to join Andrea Pirlo and David Villa. Reyna will have his hands full this offseason as he searches through leagues looking for the perfect free agent or transfer target, although it’s too early to tell who the club is leaning toward.
The losses of Iraola, Lampard and Federico Bravo (loan) leave critical holes in the midfield. With seven midfielders on the roster, the team will search for high-caliber athletes to lead the youth and help Pirlo push the ball forward, strengthening NYCFC’s attacking for next season.
Villa finished second in the Golden Boot race with 23 goals this season, but the departure of the club’s No. 2 scorer Lampard leaves a void. The team also lost 24-year-old Steven Mendoza, who scored five goals in 2016 while on loan.
City will need players like 25-year-old Thomas McNamara (5 goals), 23-year-old Khiry Shelton (4) and 20-year-old Jack Harrison (4) to step up and put more shots on net as they transition to a squad that will rely on younger talent.