Patrick Vieira (left) will get an opportunity to work with Claudio Reyna again in 2018. (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
By Michael Lewis
BRONX — Patrick Vieira plans to return as New York City FC head coach for the 2018 Major League Soccer season.
The 1998 French World Cup champion said so after City had been eliminated from the MLS Cup playoffs, losing to Columbus Crew SC in the Eastern Conference semifinal series, 4-3, at Yankee Stadium Sunday night.
“I have a year left in my contract, so I am going to be a part of it,” Vieira said.
Vieira liked what he had seen from the team this season and that City had improved over 2016.
“As a club, we are more solid on and off the field than we were last year,” Vieira said at a post-game press conference. “We improved a lot as a football club, and I strongly believe that next year is going to be even better. I believe that we are working well, we are improving on the field. We managed to bring the right players to help us improve. This year, we had 12 new players.”
NYCFC won’t have to add quantity, but rather quality to keep up with the rest of the Eastern Conference.
“Next year we’re going to have, of course, less, but the next few players we need to bring need to take us to the next level again so we can compete against the likes of Toronto and the Red Bulls, because I believe that the East will be stronger and stronger,” Vieira said.
For the second consecutive year, NYCFC was ousted from the playoffs in the semifinal series, losing the first leg in Columbus, before rebounding with a 2-0 win at home.
While the result was the same as 2016, Vieira felt the team made some important strides this season.
“We are closer the awe were last year,” he said. “I think last year, we were naive. I think tonight, we had a really good discipline on the field, and that gave us a chance to get really close.
“It’s a really good experience for myself, and as a team, as a football club, we will really improve and get stronger next year.”