By Chris P. & Chris Magalee
NYCFC released their 2017 pre-season roster this afternoon after the team arrived in Jacksonville, Florida to begin their preparations for the 2017 season.
Veteran goal keeper Josh Saunders, who was handed a multi-year contract extension in December of 2015 was noticeably absent. Also conspicuously absent is Mix Diskerud, whose exclusion comes at no surprise as we reported earlier today that he was not with the team en route to Florida.
“We were really happy with the recruitment we’ve undertaken so far in the offseason and we’re working to try to find solutions for the players who are not joining us in Jacksonville. While there are still some additions for us to make, we feel as though we’ve got the foundations of a competitive, exciting, hungry squad,” said NYCFC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna.
In other eye-catching news, NYCFC academy stand-out James Sands will be joining the team for pre-season. The sixteen year old, U-17 national team call-up will spend a few weeks playing with the first team and learning from the pros before having to go back to school.
2015 SuperDraft pick Connor Brandt returns on trial after his contract expired last year, and will fight for minutes now that his injuries are behind him.
Ben Sweat, drafted in 2014 by the Columbus Crew, is currently signed to the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the USL. Sweat is a 25 year old defender who has bounced around the lower leagues of Europe as a trialist with Djurgårdens IF Fotboll of the Swedish top league Allsvenskan, and SK Sigma Olomouc of the Czech Republic’s 2nd-tier CNFL. His professional appearances are limited, with the vast majority of his work done in Tampa Bay (37 appearances). The 6’2″ 175 lb Sweat plays left back, and was the University of South Florida’s all-time leader in appearances with 78. Sweat was named to the first team in the All-America Conference his senior year, anchoring a back line that posted eight shutouts.
Michael Farfan will also be joining the team on trial. The 28 year old midfielder had his option declined by MLS Cup Champions Seattle Sounders and played only a single league game with them in 2016. In Seattle’s 2-4 US Open Cup loss to the LA Galaxy, Farfan started and netted a goal with his only shot of the match. The midfielder has a lot of experience with the Eastern Conference, having spent three seasons with the Philadelphia Union (84 appearances, 4 goals) and one with DC United (17 appearances).
John Stertzer joins the team on trial after his option was declined by Real Salt Lake. Stertzer played 18 games, starting 9 of them in midfield for RSL in 2016. Stertzer plays a box-to-box role, often coming in as a late sub. His time with RSL was hampered by injury, spending his rookie season in 2013 recovering from a shoulder injury, then again on the sidelines with a fractured tibia in 2014. NYCFC fans may remember Stertzer for scoring his first-ever MLS goal against the club in their inaugural season.
Roberto Louima is the last trialist to join the team. Louima is a 19 year old Haitian international forward. Louima wears #10 for Les Grenadiers, his most recent success coming last October, when he led the Hatian U20s to a 4-0 victory in the Caribbean Cup over Antigua and Barbuda, netting a first-half brace. The goals can be seen here and here.
“I’m very excited to be returning to the field after the offseason break,” said Patrick Vieira. “As a coaching staff, we’re all feeling ready to begin our preparations for our second season together. It’s a really young, dynamic and exciting group of players to be working with and I’m especially looking forward to welcoming in the new players who I know will bring a lot to this group.”
Added Reyna: “Everyone will want to show what they can do, so it should be a really fulfilling, hardworking couple of weeks in Florida before we go to Ecuador for the game against Emelec. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us in the next 40 days before we travel to Orlando for that first game of the 2017 season.”
The Boys in Blue will start their preseason action February 2nd against Jacksonville University before traveling to Ecuador to take on C.S. Emelec on February 8th.
Here’s the full list of the 2017 pre-season roster:
* = Trialist ** = Unsigned Draft Pick
This article was updated at 6:41pm to reflect the quotes given by both Patrick Vieira and Claudio Reyna