Domènec Torrent took over as New York City FC head coach midway through 2018. When the team struggled last in the season, part of the Blues’ troubles couldn’t completely fall on the shoulders of a fresh face learning a new league.
Not so in 2019. Torrent has full control over the personnel decisions impacting NYCFC’s new season, and he’s faced the learning curve head on.
“I have to adapt quickly to these rules, but OK, we have a quality team. I’m happy with them,” Torrent said earlier this month. “It’s a little bit different … but after that, it’s about soccer. You play with 11 on the same pitch.”
Torrent, 56, spent more than a decade with legendary manager Pep Guardiola. The stops included Barcelona in his native Spain and Bayern Munich in Germany before assisting Guardiola at his current role with NYCFC’s partner club, Manchester City.
During the spells across Europe, Torrent saw some of the world’s best players and different travel conditions. Those facts have him convinced that, while player quality may vary, the talent he’s seen at NYCFC can be successful.
“I’m very happy with my team right now because I expect that they are able to win many, many games, and they’ll be able to play much, much better than last year,” Torrent said.
For Torrent, achieving the team’s potential begins in the Bronx. A strong home record can bolster struggles on the road in a league that is notorious around the world for far-flung travel, compared to the close competition in league’s like England’s Premier League.
“It’s very difficult to win away. Sometimes it’s about the trip, sometimes it’s about the weather — many, many things,” Torrent said. “Last year, we were able to win [70.5] percent of the games at Yankee Stadium. This is because of all our supporters. When we play, we play with 12.”
He may run into some of those supporters on off days while he continues to adapt to life in New York. A fan of music and basketball, Torrent said it’s a must to take advantage of cultural offerings when living in the area and would tell his players to do the same.
“If you like the music, if you like basketball, you are in the right city,” Torrent said. “This is the best city in the world if you want to enjoy American football, soccer, hockey. You are in the right city.”
Blues add wing
NYCFC may be receiving help for its struggling attack. Brazilian forward Héber Araujo dos Santos is set to join the club after clearing visa paperwork, according to a report by Pro Soccer USA. Often referred to solely by his first name, he scored eight goals as a wing for Croatian side HNK Rijeka.
After a third consecutive draw on Sunday, Torrent said he was searching for goal scorers. Héber could be the difference-maker he sought.