One month into the season, Patrick Vieira likes what he sees from a side that has secured seven out of a possible 12 points and sits in a three-way tie for second Eastern Conference on the first day of April.
“We played four games so far and we scored goals, we create a lot of chances so when we have possession of the ball I’m quite really happy with the way we’re playing, defensively as well,” Vieira said in the post-match press conference following a 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
“I think when you look at the way we’re playing we concede less than last year. I think we look quite solid defensively. There’s still of course some parts of the game we need to improve, but overall I’m quite pleased with our attitude when we’re on the field.”
The defense was overhauled a bit in the offseason with the additions of goalkeeper Sean Johnson and central back Alexander Callens, who has partnered well with Maxime Chanot since arriving on a free transfer in January.
“I think he’s a really strong central back,” Vieira said. “Compared to last year it was important for us to bring a left-footed player. I think he makes our game more balanced. He’s really comfortable on the ball, he’s really good when he steps in, he makes the right decisions, technically he’s good.”
Vieira has also been impressed with how quickly Rodney Wallace and Maxi Moralez have adapted to a new system and a new team.
“We knew what they were going to bring to the team and from the first day when they arrived they’ve been working really hard, working really well, they are really good guys in the dressing room,” Vieira said. “They didn’t really need any time to adapt themselves to the players in the dressing room. I’m not surprised because the attitude is good, the work ethic is good and they have the talent.”
The same could be said of Tommy McNamara, who hasn’t had a chance to crack the starting XI, but made a major impact off the substitute’s bench on Saturday when he scored what proved to be the game-winner in the 67th minute.
“I always love Tommy, not just the player, but the person,” Vieira said. “He’s been a professional and his work ethic in training didn’t change at all. Even more, he wants to show me he deserves to be on the field. That’s what I like, what I appreciate about him.”
McNamara’s first goal of the season capped a series of one-touch passes from Rodney Wallace to David Vila to Ronald Matarrita to McNamara after Matarrita’s ball pressure forced a turnover.
“The goal we scored really reflects the way we want to play the game,” Vieira said. “Our collective game when we’re around the box, having movement because of the technical level of the players allows us to do that.”