Domenec Torrent: “My feeling is that we are a strong team. Maybe we have a better team than last year.” (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
By Michael Lewis
After enduring a rough Major League Soccer baptism last year, New York City FC head coach Domenec Torrent says he is more comfortable getting an opportunity to instill his philosophy on the players during his first preseason with the team.
Torrent feels NYCFC is an improved side on the one that finished in third place in the Eastern Conference with a 16-10-8 record and 56 points in 2018.
“At the moment, my feeling is that we are a strong team,” he said during a Thursday afternoon conference call with the media. “Maybe we have a better team than last year.”
Yet, he hoped that the club’s supporters will be patient about the new tactics he is deploying with the team. Torrent wants the City to play more direct than the side that departed head coach Patrick Vieira had during his 2 1/2-year tenure. It was difficultg to do in the middle of the season, especially since NYCFC had a successful run under the Frenchman. Vieira liked the gradual build-up from the back whereas Torrent wouldn’t mind the team push up the ball via medium and long passes.
“I’m concerned about our fans understanding the new philosophy about our club,” he said, adding that sporting director Claudio Reyna “did really well explaining the difference about the last few years and this year.”
Torrent realized if he doesn’t get wins, he could be out as coach.
“I don’t think about my future,” he said. “I would like to stay here for many, many years. I know this is soccer. It’s about the result. But I came to MLS to a new city to try to improve this team and to be happy. I am happy when I can prove they play much better. They are getting better. They are growing up. That is the important thing for me as a coach.
“Believe me when I say to you, I am comfortable here. I am very happy to work with this amazing club and I expect to work many, many years with this club.”
Torrent inherited a team that was in second place with an 8-3-4 record 28 points. Under the Spaniard, NYCFC stumbled down the stretch with an 8-7-4 mark and with little momentum entering the post season. After winning a knockout round game against the Philadelphia Union, City was shown the door by eventual MLS Cup champion Atlanta United, losing in the home-and-home conference semifinal series, 4-1.
So, last year was a learning experience, even for someone who has been at the side of the legendary Pep Guardiola while coaching in Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City.
Torrent has been working with the team — twice-day-sessions — and out of the spotlight and media glare in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. So, it has been a much more comfortable experience for him to get his point across.
“I want to organize much better because everybody knows when we played away,” he said about the squad’s 4-9-4 road record. “We have to improve in that way and we will. I’m sure. We have time to organize what happens when we don’t have the ball. We have to defend everybody, not just our midfield and our defenders. Everybody has the responsibility to help their teammates.
“Right now, we are in the right way to play much better. I am very happy with the preseason with the whole team because they understand exactly what I expect about them. It is most important for me is to begin not in [the summer. It is better for a coach to start together in January and February. I think we are ready to play in MLS because the most important thing is training together.”