It was nearly a year ago that Jason Kreis lost his job after one season at the helm of New York City FC. The move, we wrote in November 2015, was a mistake and showed signs of impatience from the team’s English mothership, Manchester City.
But a year later, the decision to let the team’s first head coach go has proven correct. In only its second season, NYCFC and head coach Patrick Vieira are headed to the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference, avoiding the dreaded single-game elimination play-in round.
While Kreis was not to fault for New York City failing to reach an unrealistic goal of making the playoffs during its inaugural season, this season’s squad of aging veterans, youngsters and journeymen melded under the stewardship of Vieira, himself a legendary European player.
Having David Villa and his 23 goals will make any coach look good. But to Vieira’s credit, he has instilled patience, ball control and a commitment to playing out of the back in his side with positive results. We’ve seen Frank Lampard (when healthy) and Andrea Pirlo provide leadership in midfield, Jack Harrison continue to mature, and Tommy McNamara, Steven Mendoza and Ronald Matarrita give the team a spark at key moments throughout the season.
Vieira also had the courage the sit Mix Diskerud when the U.S. International’s play lagged. Once viewed as an important part of New York City’s midfield, Diskerud has struggled to find his way into the 18 on match day.
In the near term, Vieira and NYCFC will be focused on making a deep run into the often choppy waters of the MLS Playoffs. Long term, we hope the head coach and much of his team will stay together beyond this season for stability and to continue the effort of building something special for the soccer fans of New York.