Now in the middle of June nearing the halfway point, we hand out our NYCFC awards for his 2017 season.New York City Football Club has played 15 matches thus far in the 2017 season, which is two shy of the halfway point of the campaign. So far, it’s been a solid season for the boys in blue, who currently sit third in the Eastern Conference.
Seven wins, three draws, five losses, a plus-eight goal differential, and a plus-eight goal differential are all encouraging, except for the high amount of losses, but the regular season record seems immaterial. NYCFC are a playoff team, and only a massive slump will prevent them from making it back to the postseason. What matter is how deep they can go.
Regardless, the halfway point of the season is a good time to assess how particular players are doing, and hand out some (fake) silverware to the players who have been the best, and sadly, the worst.
Here are our midseason NYCFC awards.
MVP: David Villa
Not much explaining required. Villa leads the team with 8 goals and is second with 3 assists, but his link-up play, hard work on defense, and leadership go beyond the stat sheet. Villa is the heartbeat of this team, and as he goes, they go.
Runner-Up: Jack Harrison
Harrison has built on his terrific rookie season with a standout sophomore campaign. His six goals are second on the team, but his continuous energy down the right flank keeps the offense buzzing. His one on one ability is rivaled by few in MLS, and he is quickly ascending up the club rankings in terms of value to the team. Harrison has been better than everyone other than Villa and figures to be the club’s centerpiece moving forward.
Best Newcomer: Maxi Moralez
NYCFC’s third designated player has not disappointed — in 15 games (and 15 starts), the Argentine has tallied 2 goals and 7 assists. He is also key to NYCFC’s pass oriented offense that loves to keep possession. With Andrea Pirlo out of the side, Moralez is the team’s creative hub, and so often, the offense runs through him.
Alex Ring is an honorable mention, as he has given NYCFC the box to box midfielder they so badly needed, but Moralez production cannot be ignored.
Biggest Disappointment: Andrea Pirlo
NYCFC’s second designated player has been a massive disappointment in his second full season with the club. This season, he’s played only 8 games, without scoring or assisting any goals, before going out injured. In his stead, Yangel Herrera has been far superior to the 38-year-old midfielder.
Simply put, Pirlo is a bad fit in MLS and an even worse fit at Yankee Stadium. While the whole league is emphasizing up and down play and attacking, Pirlo is a traditional midfielder who thrives on possession. He is also a master at long passing, but the narrow confines at Yankee Stadium make him less effective at home, which is obviously an issue.
Smart money is on this being Pirlo’s last season in New York.
Best Goal: David Villa vs. Union
What did you think it would be? Come on.
Best Performance: 4-0 vs. DC United
The home opener saw NYCFC produce a dazzling display of attacking football. Newcomers Maxi Moralez and Rodney Wallace were terrific, but it was the captain that stole the show. David Villa tallied two goals and an assist as NYCFC ran riot over DC United at Yankee Stadium.
Worst Performance: 1-3 vs. Atlanta United
NYCFC got the better of expansion franchise Atlanta United in the teams first meeting, but fell short in spectacular fashion on the road. Conceding three goals in eight minutes is the definition of capitulation, an issue that this team will need to address if they are to be legitimate contenders. Overall, a disappointing display and a failure to rise to the occasion.
Overall Midseason Grade: B
NYCFC have had great moments– the comeback against the Union at home, the opening day beatdown of DC United, a huge road victory against Orlando– and bad moments, including a first half implosion at Atlanta and a bad home defeat to Cyle Larin and the Lions. However, 7 wins and 5 losses doesn’t earn NYCFC an elite grade, but rather a passing one.
All the potential for an MLS juggernaut is here, but NYCFC need to eliminate individual errors, be more clinical, and string together a solid unbeaten streak to solidify their place atop the Eastern Conference.