“That’s why I found you don’t play around with the Funky Cold Medina”
The Man in Seat Nine awoke this morning with a smile on his face and a song in his heart. Even though LL Cool J is an NYCFC supporter, it was Tone Loc bouncing around his head.
New York City FC opened the 2018 campaign with an away match in Kansas City. A decent side with the best defense of 2017. There were a lot of unanswered questions from the off season as well as the preseason.
How would the moves that Head Coach Patrick Viera and Sporting Director Claudio Reyna made in the off season affect the squad?
How would the loss of Jack Harrison impact our offense?
Would David Villa be the same man?
Was it really the experimentation of different player combinations by Patrick Viera that plagued the team during their Florida tenure?
I am happy to say that all of those questions were answered and were answered with a resounding 2–0 win over Sporting KC.
Youth Makes an Impact
The moves that the front office made during the off season, admittedly only one game in, appear to be wise. They were going for youth. They were going for depth. They acquired talent that could be molded into the City system and who would be around for a few years. And one of those acquisitions. Jesus Medina, blasted onto the scene with a fast break transition that shredded the defense and ended in an ice cold, nerves of steel, finish that gave the Bronx Blues their second goal and other defenses in the league a wake up call. He also fed the ball to David Villa, with a beautiful diagonal pass, that set up NYCFC’s first goal.
After the match, Patrick Viera, brought us back to earth with a reality check about the young DP.
“I think he is a player who needs to grow up. I think he’s got a really good potential, and we’re going to give him time. Today, he had a fantastic game. He managed to score the goal. But we know that he’ll need time to keep developing, and myself and the staff are going to give him all the support he needs to grow up. It is really tough for him. He’s coming into a country where he doesn’t speak the language and the culture is different, so he will need time to adapt himself. We have the support in our football club to help him go through the difficult battle that he will face.”
If this is what the new kid is like on instinct and the short pre-season, I can’t wait to watch him as he continues to develop with the team.
Jumping Jack Flash
I’m going to miss seeing Jack Harrison on the wing. We all knew he was something special and that eventually he would go to Europe. We didn’t think it would be this soon, and quite frankly in my opinion, too early. But you can’t deny him building his career, and I’m happy to wish him well. The question this season was how would NYCFC cover the loss? Rodney Wallace has always struck me as being a half a step behind. A talented player who never quite ran all the way to the ball. But he and Medina did well to keep the speed on the sides and create chances for David Villa and Maxi Morales in the center. We’ll miss Jack because we got to see him grow and blossom in the league, but I don’t think we’ll miss him as much on the pitch as I originally feared.
It was only the first game, and yes he did have an injury this preseason, and yes this is something I am hyper-watchful for, but it appears that David Villa may have lost, dare I say, just a part of a step. Not in skill, or class, but he did seem to be stopped by defenders that I don’t think would have made the same play last year. Maybe it was an off night. He did have a hard week.
One of the things that I would like to see Villa do different this season is to be a little less selfish with the ball. He now has support up front and has other options than always going for goal. That being said, you don’t get mad at a lion for chasing a gazelle, and El Guaje not going for goal would be against our captain’s very nature.
Speaking of nature, I will go to my grave believing that Villa is one of the most important players to ever join MLS. His work ethic. His class. His leadership. And his respect for the game and its lions.
Last night our team’s mentor, paid tribute to one of his own, former Sporting Gijon and Barcelona great Enrique Castro ‘Quini’ by wearing his number during the game opening and black armband during the match. It was a touching gesture. Understated and honest. Much like the Captain himself.
“It hasn’t been the best week for me, but as you taught me when I was 18 years old, there are no excuses in this,” Villa wrote on Twitter. “The only thing matters is giving everything, and that’s what I’ve done, friend. Surely you would’ve scolded me for not scoring a goal, but here I give you my little tribute. Thanks for everything, Brujo. I love you. Rest in Peace. #SiempreQuini”
The City System
The team that took the pitch last night was not same team that left the pitch last season. Even with the new additions, they have matured. Our back four is now a proper defense. Pressed hard in the second half and highly stressed as Sporting KC tried to claw their way back, they did not break. They were tough. They were resilient. And they did what they needed to do. Our midfield was aggressive and continued to win second balls. And our top three pushed hard and forced errors in the opponents own third. The team as a whole played patient, tactical, football. Building from the back and lulling the defense with frequent passing until an opening appears — quick transitions to catch the defense on the back foot — and over the top passes to a breaking wing to cross into near post and back post runs — the team remained calm and clinical, knowing that the system would eventually produce results.
In summary — MLS is back, the boys in blue are looking strong, and we took three points in an away season opener against a solid side. Add to that the fact that Toronto lost, Atlanta got decimated by a lack of defense, and Orlando only came out with a point against DC United, and The Man in Seat Nine is a very happy man. Sing along if you wish…
… Alright, dig it
Cold coolin at a bar, and I’m lookin for some action
But like Mike Jagger said, I can’t get no satisfaction
The girls are all around, but none of them want to get with me
My threads are fresh and I’m lookin def, yo, what’s up with L-o-see?
The girls is all jockin at the other end of the bar
Havin drinks with some no-name chump, when they know that I’m the star
So I got up and strolled over to the other side of the cantina
I asked the guy, “Why you so fly?” he said, “Funky Cold Medina”
Funky Cold Medina…