1) Villa Scores as New York City FC Beat St. Mirren
Fittingly the clubs first signing, Spanish superstar David Villa scored the first goal in NYCFC history, as the MLS newboys topped Scottish Premier League side St. Mirren 2-0 in a friendly played at the City Football Academy in Manchester.
Tony Taylor added the second goal as the fledgling MLS team ramp up preparations for its first competitive match Sunday, March 8, against fellow expansion side Orlando City SC, in Orlando.
NYC did suffer a setback, with the club announcing that goalkeeper Ryan Meara is expected to miss up to six weeks with a knee injury. On loan from neighboring New York Red Bulls, Meara was expected to claim the team’s starting goalkeeper job. NYC should be ok for now, the club has solid cover in former MLS Cup winning keeper Josh Saunders.
2) Jermaine Jones Out For Revolution
The U.S. MNT’s recent two game set resulted in plenty of controversy, as well as a 1-1 record, and it also cost the New England Revolution its best player and catalyst, Jermaine Jones for 4-6 weeks.
Jones underwent sports hernia surgery on Tuesday, and if that estimate holds true the Revs midfield leader and U.S. MNT defender, looks set to miss at least New England’s March 8 opener in Seattle.
And as much as Jones enjoys performing on the big stage, the Revs next match, against NYC FC on March 15 at Yankee Stadium, may still be too soon for the 33 year old.
Jones’ late August arrival sparked New England’s run to the 2014 MLS Cup, where they fell to the L.A. Galaxy, so Jay Heaps won’t want to risk losing his team’s leader for an extended period.
3) Captain Bradley Changes Contract for Altidore
In a move that can only be described as inevitable, Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney has named Michael Bradley team captain.
Bradley has quickly become the face of the Toronto franchise, so even the man he replaced, Steven Caldwell, can hardly have been surprised at this news.
After a bit of an up and down performance at last summer’s World Cup, Bradley returned to top form in the two recent U.S. friendlies, and is determined to lead TFC to its first ever MLS playoff berth this season.
To that end, and in a very captain like move, Bradley restructured his contract to make signing his fellow U.S. national team player Jozy Altidore easier for Toronto.
4) Red Bulls introduce Kljestan
This has been a tumultuous offseason for Major League Soccer’s original New York club. First Thierry Henry called it a career, then new GM Ali Curtis fired popular coach Mike Petke, and finally Curtis allowed Tim Cahill to head off to China with a year remaining on his contract.
Sacha Kljestan won’t be expected to solve all of New York’s problems, but the former(?) U.S. international should be a good fit as the team fights for its share of the New York soccer marketplace.
Kljestan sounded all the right notes at Tuesday’s introductory press when he said,“the challenge arose to try to come to New York with the Red Bull organization and try to be a leader, a team that has never won an MLS Cup; it’s a huge challenge. We want to make something that the fans are proud of, and the sporting challenge was the biggest draw.”
The former Anderlecht man played with his new coach Jesse Marsch with Chivas USA, and he played his college soccer at Seton Hall, just about seven miles down the road from Red Bull Arena, so Kljestan’s MLS re-entry should be a smooth one.
5) NYCFC Form Youth League
New York City FC has waded further into the sometimes murky waters of youth development, establishing a new youth league that will be run by the club.
The Manchester City/New York Yankees owned club had previously affiliated with 11 area youth clubs, the new league is the next step in what looks set to become a battle to dominate the youth market in the New York region. Players in that battle include not only the Red Bulls, but the NASL Cosmos, whose youth system is run by Spanish legend Raul.
The league will be for players in the U9, U10, and U11 age groups, and as the team puts it, “will follow the philosophy and techniques created within the City Football network.”
The club states that the league, “will help promote and regulate the development of soccer in the New York City Metro area.” That language is liable to ruffle feathers within New York’s established youth soccer organizations, not just NYC’s professional rivals.