NYCFC head coach Domenec Torrent has some problems to solve prior to the playoffs. (Kim Klement – USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
New York City FC finds itself in the midst of a bit of a style identity crisis.
The new coach wants his team to play faster while bringing up the ball after it enjoyed had great success under the old coach, who stressed a slow build-up.
This, of course, all changed in June when the team switched coaches though the side with a winning record.
It is a sports tradition to replace a coach when a team isn’t winning. But in this MLS anomaly head coach Patrick Vieira decided to pursue greater challenges and greener pastures with Nice in French Ligue 1 with NYCFC vying for the Supporters Shield.
City Group did not go too far away from brining in a successor from its own house, Manchester City assistant coach Domenec Torrent, a trusted lieutenant to Pep Guardiola for many years.
No doubt Torrent is a good coach.
But here’s the rub.
Torrent plays a different style than Vieira, who liked the team to build up slowly from the back. Torrent? He has liked the possession game, but wants to move the ball faster. This isn’t necessarily an easy thing to do with a team that has been so successful with that method over the past 2 1/2 years under Vieira.
And let’s face it. This is Vieira’s team, not Torrent’s. The French World Cup winner built the squad to his philosophy and liking.
Don’t be surprised if Torrent does a rebuild during the offseason. It’s not that the players are bad, it’s that some of them might not fit into the new coach’s system or style.
That is nothing new in soccer.
When a new coach joins a team, he will bring “his” players in to shore up a struggling squad.
But again, this is a unique situation. NYCFC wasn’t lagging behind the rest of the league. Instead, it was helping set the pace.
Some of us might think, well, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
But again, coaches have their systems, their likes and styles.
And Torrent has his.
As the playoffs creep closer, Torrent must figure out how to get away results.
NYCFC hasn’t lost at Yankee Stadium since the 2017 season and is 10-0-3 there this season.
Outside of the Bronx, its a different story as City is a rare piss-poor 4-7-3, having been outscored, 29-20, while allowing its opponents tally two or more goals on a mind-boggling 11 occasions and recording a 2-7-1 mark in its last 10 road matches. NYCFC also has only two away clean sheets.
In a home-and-home playoff series such a porous defense on the road could spell disaster giving up so many goals on the road.
Whether Torrent has enough time to get his point across to turn his team into a consistent road side with seven games remaining in the regular season, it remains to be seen.
We’ll get another glimpse Wednesday night when NYCFC hosts the New England Revolution, which will be playing for its playoff lives, at the stadium.