Sports New York City FC, after another East semifinals exit, eyes 2018 breakthrough NYCFC locked up the No. 2 seed in the conference in consecutive seasons but failed to advance each time. Andrea Pirlo decided to retire after this season, opening up a designated player spot for NYCFC. Photo Credit: Daniel De Mato By Anthony Payero Special to amNewYork Updated November 6, 2017 9:13 PM Print Share fbShare Tweet gShare Email New York City FC was eliminated from the Eastern Conference semifinals Sunday for the second year in a row. But, as they say, the third time’s the charm. Head coach Patrick Vieira, who took the helm of the Blues before their second MLS season began in 2016, wants nothing more than to see his club break through their postseason barrier. “I think, as a club, we are more solid on and off the field than we were last year,” said Vieira, who has one year remaining on his contract. “I think we improved a lot as a football club, as a brand, and I strongly believe that next year is going to be even better.” Along with the end of the season, Sunday also marked the end of Andrea Pirlo’s illustrious career. The Italian midfielder, who joined the club in the summer of 2015, made his final appearance for NYCFC in the final minutes of the second-leg match against Columbus Crew SC at Yankee Stadium. With Pirlo’s departure, the club will need to fill his designated player spot with an athlete of his caliber if they want to return to the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2018. David Villa, the reigning league MVP, remained in top form this season and is a favorite to win the award in back-to-back seasons for the first time in MLS history. The Spaniard scored the club’s first two goals in this year’s postseason and finished second in scoring (22) for the second year in a row, behind the Chicago Fire’s Nemanja Nikolic (24). Despite coming up well short of the Cup, the Blues will work earnestly to be back in better shape for next season. “I’m sure we’ll be stronger next season,” defender Alex Ring said, in a video interview on NYCFC.com. “We’ll come back and promise we’ll go further than this year.” By Anthony Payero Special to amNewYork Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Comments We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.