The loss to Real Salt Lake on May 23rd, especially on the heels of last week’s heroic draw against the Chicago Fire, has escalated panic amongst the NYCFC faithful to something approaching DEFCON 2. And now that the European season is winding down, the twitter feeds of every fan are awash in speculation, rumour, and invective concerning which world football star should come to New York and why.
Whoa. Hold on.
To Have and Have Not: A new world football star for NYCFC?
For while too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart, remember, the season’s barely a third over. A third. Sure, one would have hoped that by now there’d be better communication between the players. But there are still 22 games to play, more than enough time for 30 guys who barely know each other to, well, get to know each other.
Second, there’s a reason these guys don’t know each other. Look at the back line, for example. Over the course of NYCFC’s 12 games, the only time the same four guys have started two games in a row, was the first two games of the season. Eight different players have started for NYCFC’s back line, not counting substitutions. With that kind of inconsistency it’s a miracle the goal differential isn’t greater (thank you, Josh Saunders).
And third, even if those first two points weren’t true, you still don’t just run out and sign the first world football star you see. You sign the guy you need. You look at your distinct, specific problems, you look at the personnel you have right now, and you make an evaluation of the kind of player that’s the best answer. And then you see if that person’s out there.
But who wants to be rational at a time like this? So instead, let’s look at the names that have been thrown around in the press, on blogs and on social media.
And let’s start with Didier Drogba . Now, look, I love Drogba. Even at his current age, which I think is around 800, he’s a threat every time he hits the pitch. But how often will that be? Can he play a full 90 for the remaining 22 games after playing in the EPL this season? And even if he can, we all know it’s only for one season. He’s committed to Chelsea next year. NYCFC’s problems are too big for a one year commitment – even though I love speculating about what he could teach Khiry Shelton.
Well then, what about Andrea Pirlo? Really? You want to bring another attacking midfielder to Yankee Stadium? How about we also get RSL to throw in Nick Rimando and then the whole damn team can fight over who brings the ball up the pitch. Sure, Pirlo’d be a great set up man for David Villa, and the things he could teach Mix could pay USMNT dividends. But Pirlo’s headed to Anfield where he’ll set up, um, who do they have up front now?
Okay, but a team can’t win if they don’t score goals. So let’s get Carlos Tevez. And sure the guy’s amazing, but one has to believe that the sour taste he left in the mouths of the folks at the Etihad will stop that deal from happening. Plus, NYCFC already have a world-class striker, remember? And anyway, scoring isn’t really the problem.
The problem is the back line.
The problem is that NYCFC have a bunch of braves who are in search of a chief. It’s not that they lack talent or skill. Indeed, with one solid addition to anchor and direct the backline, any combination of any of the guys we’ve seen so far would be successful
So who should they pick up?
This feels tailor made for someone near the end of his career, who could give the team 2 or 3 good years to teach, train and educate. Like a Carles Puyol – if he hadn’t retired a year ago. Or a John Terry, if he wasn’t going to retire next year. Or perhaps slightly younger guys looking for a bit of redemption – say a David Luiz or a Vincent Kompany (who we know looks good in light blue).
During an extended twitter discussion on this topic, a reader (@Josh_BKNY) suggested NYCFC should go after players like Southampton’s Victor Wanyama. But – and perhaps this is just me – I can’t see a young world football star on a top side in Europe jumping to MLS. It may be my personal bias, but unless they’re Americans, I don’t believe they think our league is a good career move yet.