By Michael Lewis
With his proper paperwork in hand, Domènec Torrent will make New York City FC coaching debut against Toronto FC at Yankee Stadium Sunday.
The former Manchester City assistant coach arrived in New York Friday night after obtaining his visa. Torrent was involved in training the Major League Soccer side in training at its Orangeburg, N.Y. complex Saturday morning, a club spokesman said.
Torrent, 55, was named head coach June 11, succeeding Patrick Vieira, who has moved on to become head coach at Nice in French Ligue 1. He has signed with City through the end of the 2020 season.
A former head coach of Girona FC (Spain) and assistant coach at FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Torrent most recently was a top lieutenant of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City FC in the English Premier League. Both teams are owned by City Football Group.
He has worked with Guardiola the past 11 years, helping win 24 trophies across terms at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City.
“Though I have enjoyed a wonderful 11 years working alongside my colleague and close friend Pep Guardiola – it has always been my ambition to manage a team again and I really couldn’t have hoped for a better opportunity than at this football club,” Torrent said in a June 11 statement.
NYCFC captain David Villa, who played under Torrent when the latter was an assistant coach during a two-year span at Barcelona, welcomed Vieira’s successor earlier this month.
“It was a difficult day because in the morning, we found out that Patrick is leaving,” Villa said. “Patrick was so important for the club and for us, so it was a difficult day of news. But after that, when we found out that Dome and his staff were coming to replace Patrick, it was great news after the bad news.
“I know him, and I know some of his staff. I think it’s the right and best person we could have to replace Patrick.”
Barcelona earned nine trophies between 2010-2012 when both men were at the La Liga powerhouse. That includes La Liga and UEFA Champions League titles.
“Knowing Patrick and knowing Dome and knowing how they work, I don’t believe the team will be affected a lot in the change,” Villa said. “Every coach has their own situations or decisions, but Dome is a similar style of coach to Patrick.
“It’s always hard to change coach in the middle of the season. I’ve been through it before earlier in my career. It’s a difficult period but, in this case, thanks to the City Football Group and this commitment between the clubs, I think it’s not so hard to change the coach in the middle of the season in this situation.”
After a 15-day World Cup break, NYCFC resumes MLS play at Yankee Stadium against defending MLS Cup champion Toronto FC at 5 p.m. Sunday.
Toronto FC has been a major nemesis of City the past two seasons.
NYCFC (8-3-4, 28 points) enters the match in second place in the Eastern Conference, five points behind Atlanta United FC (10-3-3, 33). City does have a game in hand.
A slow start to the season has Toronto FC (4-7-3, 15) in 10th place out of 11 teams in the conference. The Red Bulls are five points above D.C. United, but are within four points of sixth place, the line of demarcation for the playoffs.