From Last Word on Soccer, by Noah Sobel-Pressman
Yesterday, NYCFC announced their preseason roster, but there are still some gaps to fill. However, some of those gaps could be filled by rumored center back signing Peruvian National Team player Alexander Callens. The roster has a several intriguing veterans, new signings, draft picks, and trialists that could make a big difference in NYCFC’s playoff push.
* denotes trialist
** denotes unsigned draft pick
Players Already Under Contract
(Mikey Lopez is injured and therefore not attending)
Going into preseason, it seemed that there wouldn’t be many surprises with which players would return. But, when the roster was released there were two notable names missing: Josh Saunders and Mix Diskerud. Claudio Reyna clarified that NYCFC are “working to try to find solutions for the players who are not joining us in Jacksonville.”
It seems as if Diskerud will return to Scandinavia, but those clubs may not be able to afford his salary and transfer fee. Josh Saunders hasn’t been linked anywhere, but Atlanta United are in need of an experienced goalkeeper until the summer. When Brad Guzan arrives, Saunders could be a valuable back up.
If NYCFC are able to find a solution for one of them, they could use their buy out of one player who has a guaranteed contract during the off-season and free up the salary space. The financial backing of CFG should be able to afford this loss.
The first and second round draft picks were already analyzed here, but so far only Jonathan Lewis (Generation Adidas) was signed. Kwame Awuah, Jalen Brown, Chris Wingate and Michael Degraffenreidt all have to earn their roster spot. If they are not ready for the first team yet, they could develop with NYCFC’s theoretical USL affiliate.
Chris Wingate joins NYCFC from University of New Hampshire, where he played midfield. In his collegiate career he scored 15 goals and notched 11 assists. Michael Degraffenreidt played defense for University of Louisville.
Half of the trialists are the obligatory MLS veterans that NYCFC hope will pan out or provide some depth. 26-year-old John Stertzer spent the four seasons playing for RSL and their USL affiliate. He made 48 appearances for the first team playing midfield.
Michael Farfan last played for the Seattle Sounders, but has also played for the Philadelphia Union and DC United. The 28-year-old midfielder made one appearance for the MLS champions last year.
Since 2015, defender Ben Sweat has been with the NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies. He entered MLS as a first round draft pick with the Columbus Crew.
The other three trialists are more intriguing. First, Connor Brandt, who was one of NYCFC’s first draft picks, but his career has been hampered by injuries. He plays defense/defensive midfielder. If he can stay healthy, he could be an intriguing option to fill Andoni Iraola’s place.
Second, Roberto Louima is a Haitian U20 forward. He recently won Best Player at October’s U20 Caribbean Cup, where Haiti claimed the title.
Finally, US youth international and NYCFC academy player James Sands. Sands is the first Academy player to train with the first team. Surprisingly, it was not Claudio Reyna’s son Gio Reyna, a promising attacking prospect. While Sands is a little young to play for the first team, it is good to see him getting this valuable experience. If he preforms well, they could loan him to their PDL affiliate, Long Island Rough riders, or a NPSL team or their USL affiliate.