How’d 2013 Treat ‘Em: 17-9-8 (W-L-T); 58 gf, 41 ga; Supporters’ Shield
I never really “bought” New York as a serious team. I doubt very much that they give a shit about this opinion, especially with the Supporters’ Shield sitting in their cabinet, but this did allow me to nod knowingly when Houston knocked them off in the playoffs. Something about the whole run felt accidental somehow. Maybe that’s tangled up in history, or the way unfamiliar names on the roster somehow read smaller than they should. Are they better than my Portland Timbers? Their record says “yes,” but I console myself with beliefs about New York benefiting from playing in the weaker conference. So, how did it happen? I still don’t know. Maybe it’s all down to Petke making a player out Eric Alexander somehow or Dax McCarty finally being given a chance to run a midfield (eh, probably more than that). That’s just name-dropping in the end, because I can’t say I watched these guys more than three times. And yet they did win those games. And those numbers up above, down even to the goals for and against, match favorably with all the teams I rate (e.g. RSL, Portland). So, I’ll just raise my hand and admit that, while I don’t know how they did it, New York clearly did it in 2013.
Exciting Additions! – Armando (?), Richard Eckersley(?)
Tricky Departures… – Fabian Espindola
Quality Parts: Tim Cahill, Thierry Henry, Dax McCarty, Jamison Olave, Luis Robles
It Gets Better If They Come Good: Eric Alexander, Bobby Convey, Johnny Steele
What I’d Expect Based on the Above:
Age has to be concern for these guys, that and losing Espindola’s psychotic motor. Still, an essentially stagnant off-season suggests they believe they have enough on the roster to make another run at it. I can’t believe Henry is still doing it, but he clearly did last year, so who am I to second-guess? I rate Robles just about as highly as any ‘keeper in MLS and he’s got Olave in front of him. Someone like Steele came out of nowhere (for me, anyway), so maybe that Armando guy will play up as well – that would just be gravy on top of the generally good idea of shoring up the defense . What I do know is that at least three Eastern Conference teams clearly improved (Philly, Toronto, and DC), or at least strove mightily to do so. New York will need answers. And maybe that’s all their off-season was – a bet on chemistry. For what it’s worth, I’m willing to buy in this season. Not “buy in” buy in – like, I don’t see them lifting MLS Cup with this roster – but I do think they’re set for another good year…and they’ll want that with NYCFC coming in 2015.
2014 Season Opener: @ Vancouver, March 8