February 23, 2017
New York – Patrick Vieira and Rodney Wallace spoke to reporters today about New York City FC’s preseason and how the team has been doing overall.
Following another pre-season friendly loss, one of the first questions asked was about Patrick’s concern with NYCFC’s porous defense. Vieira emphasized that he wasn’t as concerned as others and that the team was working on as a complete unit as opposed to relying solely on the defensive players.
“I know that people think about us spending more time working on the back four and now number six. We 100% believe that we’re going to be better this year as a defensive unit. My main focus is still as a team; how can we still defend better from out front.”
When prodded further about his concern with the amount of goals NYCFC gave up as a unit he said that the players coming in will give him the options to switch formations and adjust to different teams and different scenarios as the game progresses. Vieira said he wasn’t worried about who will play the number six midfield role as they have several players who can fit into that position.
16-year-old James Sands has been one of the players Vieira has tried out in the role of a number six. The teenager was cast into the spotlight when he listed among the invitees to NYCFC’s training camp. He was further highlighted when he played in NYCFC’s friendly against Emelec in Guayaquil, Ecuador. While he’s still on trial, Vieira remained non committal about signing the promising young American.
“I think we talk about it every single day with Claudio and the rest of the staff. We are really pleased to have a young talented player in our football club. We need to think carefully about how we can help him develop and what’s the best next step for him.”
Vieira went on to say that the team is aware that his commitments next year with the U-17 World Cup and other national team games will mean he will lose time with the team if they do sign him. Patrick said that the team will look at what they would want from him, what they can expect from him, and what is the best way for him to grow as a player before trying to make the right decision.
James Sands is only one of several players that have joined NYCFC this preseason. Maxi Moralez was signed by NYCFC to be the team’s third designated player after Frank Lampard’s contract expired at the end of last season. Moralez is a bit of an unknown to many in MLS circles, and he is very much a departure from NYCFC’s previous DP signings.
“He will bring us something different that we didn’t have last year. I think he will set up quite really well with the way we want to play” Vieira said of his newest Designated Player.
However, Vieira would have prefered to have his entire team together sooner, saying that some of the late arrivals weren’t physically up to the task of playing entire games in preseason just yet.
“When you look at all the players that arrived quite late, physically it was really difficult to manage to give them a 90-minute game. So I really needed to mix the teams because what was really important for me was how hard the players were working the last few weeks. Having players come in at different teams makes it difficult to have my starting 11. We have one more game to play this Saturday.”
Despite not having Moralez and most of his new additions around the entire pre-season Vieira was high on the Argentine, saying he had watched him play in Italy and Mexico. Vieira told reporters that Moralez can play wide or centrally, and he will decide on a game by game basis where in the starting XI his third DP will line up. If it’s any indication, it would appear he might be Lampard’s like for like replacement in some games as Vieira believes he plays best when he’s central.Moralez will provide Villa a spark of energy and hopefully give his team a much needed goal scoring threat who’s not named David Villa.
Rodney Wallace was one of the late additions to NYCFC’s camp and he spoke about his arrival and how he’s been adapting to the new group of players.
“The guys have welcomed me into the group, it’s a close group and it feels good to be in this family. I’ve had conversation with Patrick and I know what he’s expecting of me. I came in late to preseason but I’m adjusting well and I’m beginning to get some rhythm, which is good. I see myself on the left side of the field offensively and doing what I can do best to help the team.”
Veira also had praise for one of his recent signings, saying that Wallace can play in any type of system he choses to set up in. Coach Vieira explicitly said a few times that playing three out of the back is an option and Rodney would be his go-to for playing alone on the left side.
When Vieira was asked how worried he was about David Villa and Andrea Pirlo’s age he said he “wasn’t worried at all”, saying that because the players have been at the highest levels for so long they know how to handle their bodies.
Vieira went on to say he wasn’t worried at all about MLS MVP David Villa slowing down. He said he would love for him to have a better season that he did last year, but that the hope wasn’t just for Villa but for the entire team.
“I think like this is what I want from every player. Last season was a good season but it wasn’t good enough for us as a football club, I believe that this year the team is much stronger than it was last year. I think the roster is much better than It was last year.”
When asked why he thought the team was better Vieira pointed to the players on the roster, and seemed to take aim at the lack of quality talent he had to work with last season.
“I have players who can play in different positions. We have better players overall, I think last year we didn’t have, so many choices regarding the players that we had. I think this year there were be more competition between the players and that will help to get the best of every single one of them and that’s what I like best about the group.”
One thing is for sure this season; This is Patrick Vieira’s team. There are very few leftovers from Jason Kreis’ tenure with the team still left on the roster. This is a very young team and coach Vieira believes that the competition between each player fighting for playing time will help them all grow and become better throughout the year.
Patrick Vieira also touched on the goalkeeping position, saying that he wanted to bring in someone with experience in the league and that’s one of the main reasons they signed MLS veteran Sean Johnson to replace departing veteran Josh Saunders.
Vieira said that the competition between all three keepers, and cited Andre Rawls’ recent stand out performances, will help push the players to a higher level.
Last season the competition between Saunders and Johansen ultimately culminated with Saunders losing his starting spot in the final regular season match with Johansen starting NYCFC’s two playoffs match after that game as well.
Last, but not least, Patrick talked about the relationship between NYCFC and their USL affiliate San Antonio FC. He said it’s too early to discuss loans or player movement yet but once both teams finish their preseasons the two coaches will get in touch to talk about the possibility of players moving between teams either on a loan basis or a permanent basis.
NYCFC’s next game is Saturday February 25th at 5:30pm EST.