New York City in MLS

Sunderland’s Jozy Altidore during their English Premier League soccer match against West Ham United at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland, England, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014.
Associated Press / Scott Heppell

New York City’s own MLS franchise, New York City FC makes its league debut on Sunday, March 15, 2015 versus the New England Revolution and after a year of planning and preparation, the semblance of a competitive team is beginning to unfold.

The team has solid financial backing from its owners – English Premier League club Manchester City, one of the richest soccer clubs in the world, and the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball, one of the richest baseball franchises. Former U.S. national team midfielder Claudio Reyna is responsible for the soccer operations, which includes selecting the coaching staff and player acquisitions; and the team will play in Yankee Stadium in the Bronx until a soccer specific stadium that bears the New York City FC (FC means Football Club) name is built, according to reports, in either Queens or Brooklyn.

Former MLS player and Real Salt Lake City coach, Jason Kreis, was named coach a year ago and has since spent time in England at the team’s parent headquarters as an understudy to the Manchester City coaching staff to understand the coaching philosophy and culture that Man City encourages. Kreis was selected, according to the coach, because his style is similar to that of the parent club. Kreis said he was hired for his attractive, possession-oriented soccer he employed at Real Salt Lake.

The club’s first signings reveal its attempt to bring that attractive, possession game to New York City, which has a very knowledge soccer community. Former Spain and Barcelona forward David Villa and former England and Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard are the Designated Players who will suit up for New York FC; Lampard is currently on loan at Manchester City and scoring goals for the club which currently leads the English Premier League standings. Designated Players are those high-priced stars whose salaries do not conform to the MLS salary cap. NYCFC is allowed a third designated player and there is speculation that this could be a U.S. national player such as Jozy Altidore.

“As we’ve gone from there, we’re looking for players to complement those two players’ styles and also fit in with the way Manchester City wants to see the game played and also the way Claudio and I want to see the game played,” Kreis said of future players. “We’re always looking for players who fit into the style of soccer and the type of group we want to be.”

In its quest to complete a roster, New York City FC took part in the recent MLS expansion draft, where players who were out of contract and those whose contracts were not renewed were available for selection. The club also acquired players on loan and traded directly with clubs for players

Among the 22 players acquired through the Expansion draft are three MLS veterans who played for Kreis at Real Salt Lake: Chris Wingert, a Long Island product who played at St. John’s University, Ned Grabavoy and Kwame Watson-Siriboe, all defenders. Also among the new players are midfielders Sal Zizzo from Sporting Kansas City, former Red Bulls player Mehdi Ballouchy from Vancouver and defender George John from FC Dallas and forward Patrick Mullins, who recently played for the New England Revolution in the 2014 MLS Cup. New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara was acquired on loan for the inaugural season. The team will also select players in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft on Jan. 15, in Philadelphia.

Regarding the eventual stadium, Martin Edelmen, a New York property attorney and a member of Manchester City’s board of directors, told the New York Daily News, “We had focused on the Bronx but that didn’t work out and we weren’t able to find anything else in the Bronx that made sense,” said the attorney. “So we’re looking in Queens and Brooklyn, and each potential has to be analyzed for construction, for access to public transportation, for parking, it’s a very complicated process.

Edelmen continued, “There’s no rush, but there’s a rush. In other words we’re not going to just settle for something, we’re going to find a place where everybody is comfortable doing it, and it makes economic sense to do it. But we’re not just sitting and waiting for the place to come to us.”

Yedlin to Spurs

Seattle Sounders defender DeAndre Yedlin got his work permit to play for England’s Tottenham Hot Spurs of the English Premier League, MLSso‌ reported recently. The 21-year-old U.S. international defender, who gained the attention of many clubs for his good play at last summer’s World Cup in Brazil, will join the London club to start play in January.

Manchester City’s Frank Lampard during their English Premier League soccer match against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland, England, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014.
Associated Press / Scott Heppell

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