With New York City FC in Florida preparing for the upcoming MLS season, head coach Patrick Vieira said the team is continuing to explore options on bolstering its roster.
During a conference call with reporters, Vieira confirmed that the team is eyeing a move for Alexander Callens, a Peruvian international defender.
“We’ve identified (Callens) as a player who could do well for us,” he said.
Vieira, who is starting his second season in New York, said that improving the team’s defense was a top priority coming into the 2017 campaign. While New York City finished the 2016 season in second place in the Eastern Conference, their 57 goals allowed was the most of any of the league’s 12 playoff teams.
Vieira also squelched rumors of the team’s interest in Sami Khedira. Published reports had indicated that New York City was looking to bring in the current Juventus star. The head coach also noted that the team is seeking “the right player” for its open Designated Player spot, but offered few specifics on possible targets.
As the team explores options on adding players, current NYCFC members Mix Diskerud and Josh Saunders current NYCFC were omitted from the preseason roster.
Vieira said the two players, each of who have had significant roles for NYCFC over the past two seasons, have been given time to each find a solution that works best for their respective careers and the team.
“We’re talking about two players who have good experience at the international level, with Mix, and in (MLS) for Josh,” he said. “Both players want to play but they will not be guaranteed playing time with New York City.”
Vieira also noted that NYCFC’s recent top draft picks, Jonathan Lewis and Kwame Awuah, have had good starts to camp.
Noting that the move from college to MLS is a big jump for any player, the head coach said Lewis is a “proper winger” and a player that has a strong personality, is confident and willing to challenge players for a spot on the team. Vieira said Awuah, a defender in college, is good with the ball and a player who could also be an option at central midfield.