Ask RJ Allen what a successful season looks like and the answer is as unambiguous as they come.
The straight-talking defender is setting his sights on the highest prize on offer to NYCFC in the year ahead: The 2017 MLS Cup.
Allen penned a new deal with the club in the offseason and is committed to helping the team and the city he loves to the greatest honor of all.
Allen told NYCFC.com: “For me, it’s about winning trophies. I don’t like the idea of going to the semifinals and losing – that does what for me? No, I want to be known as that guy who went to the MLS Cup final and won because that’s what it’s all about.
“It’s not about making it to the final and just being happy to be there. I don’t know anyone who got to the MLS Cup final, lost, and was happy.
“You play sports to win trophies and you play this game to be successful. At the end of the day, that’s how you’re remembered and that’s what it’s all about.”
To reach that goal, Allen knows that the newcomers to the squad will have to adjust quickly to the rigors of the league.
NYCFC have brought in five players in the month of February alone – all midfielders, so RJ knows it’s going to be tough but, taking into the account the quality of the additions, he sees no reason why the team can’t compete once they’ve adapted to their new surrounds.
“I think that over time with new players getting acclimatized and adjusted to the culture, we’re going to be in a great spot,” RJ opined.
“Obviously we’ve got a lot of international guys coming in, guys of high caliber and really good quality – it’s going to take a period of adjustment but you can see their flashes of brilliance in these preseason games and in training.
“They are amazing, top players and we have a very competitive roster, so it’s important for everyone to bring it every day and fight for your spot because the second you get complacent, you’re out.”
Speaking of competition for places, Shannon Gomez is back and ready to fight for minutes at right-back following his frustrating, injury-hit 2016.
Allen is as happy as anyone that the Trinidadian is back doing what he does best and welcomes the healthy competition from his likeable teammate.
“Shannon has fought really hard, he was really coming on last year and then unfortunately he hurt his knee,” Allen said.
“I think competition in any spot, in my spot, is only going to bring the best out of you as a player. I’m delighted that he’s back and he’s doing well this preseason.”
While he’ll take nothing for granted, RJ will be hoping to kick-off the season as first-choice in his position when NYCFC take on Orlando City in Florida.
With the game hosting MLS action for the very first time, the New Jersey native is expecting a raucous welcome.
Allen added: “That Orlando City match is going to be amazing to be a part of – I’m really excited and looking forward to that.
“That’s our end product and focus for this preseason, building towards that match in the first week of March – it’s going to be a tremendous atmosphere, it’s going to be loud and we just can’t wait for it to come around now.”