No introductions needed here. New York Red Bulls. New York City FC. But this time, it’s only about gaining quality minutes so RBNY can come out of the gate quickly for next week’s CONCACAF Champions League. The match will take place in Arizona, before the RBNY starters fly home to prepare for the Vancouver Whitecaps and the backups grab more playing time against Sporting Kansas City & the Houston Dynamo.
I caught up with Raf Noboa from Hudson River Blue to get his take on the offseason, preseason and preview of the regular season.
Once a Metro: NYCFC has taken of a bit of an unorthodox approach to the preseason. While most teams are playing games against other MLS teams in Arizona & Florida, NYCFC has gone international. Do you think this is an advantage for NYCFC or disadvantage? Surely a 9-0 win is not looked upon as playing a tough opponent.
Hudson River Blue: It depends on what you think the purpose of preseason is. If, like manager Patrick Vieira, you think it's a tool to build team cohesiveness, then it doesn't matter whom you play, as long as you get a chance to build that chemistry. So far, it looks as though New York City have done that. The 9-0 shellacking of Jacksonville University was a scrimmage; they acquitted themselves well against Emelec in Ecuador, which is no mean feat.
OaM: Now, down to personnel. Do you think the loss of Frank Lampard is a big blow to the team? He only played in 29 games, but had 15 goals. Where in the world is Mix Diskerud? Where do you think USL MVP Sean Okoli will fit in the lineup?
HRB: Not exactly. New York City will miss him, but the fact is that Lampard was supposed to be the face of the team, and for a variety of reasons, that never happened. The controversy over his status, injuries -- all that served as a distraction. Given that and his age, and the fact that it looks like NYCFC are looking to sign a much younger player as his DP replacement, I think the team will better off with him gone.
As for Mix, the less said, the better. Mix, essentially, was signed as a distraction from the Lampard fiasco. However, he never made the kind of impact that both his reputation and salary (rumored to be $750,000/year for four years) indicated. Both Jason Kreis and Patrick Vieira tried to fit him into their tactical setups, and both gave up in frustration. Moreover, as time has passed, it's been more and more obvious that Mix's interest is in anything but playing, let alone improving as a player. So he's deservedly in the outs.
Sean Okoli is an interesting case. The jump from USL to MLS can be daunting. He's not a stranger to MLS, exactly, but he is young. The hope is that he can provide additional firepower on the forward line -- and NYCFC need it, because David Villa is, by far, the leading goal scorer and he's not getting any younger.
OaM: The league seems to be pushing a rivalry with Orlando now that they will have hosted NYCFC for their second league opener in three years. Do the fans really see this as an important match up for themselves or the league?
HRB: For me, it isn't that much of a rivalry. Why? Proximity. You're not that likely to run into an Orlando City fan, whereas New York City fans will definitely run into RBNY and (to a lesser degree) Cosmos fans. You can add Philly fans and there's always the Boston-NY rivalry.
It's always nice to beat Orlando, but I suspect that it's more of a rivalry on the Orlando side, what with Kreis managing the Lions.
You can see Once a Metro’s answers to Hudson River Blue’s questions here. You can catch the game on February 15th at 4pm on the YES Network. Or live stream here: