Vieira: We Can Challenge in 2018

Vieira Preseason Article

New York City FC goes into Year Four stronger than ever before, according to Head Coach Patrick Vieira.

Speaking from Jacksonville, where the squad is stationed for the first leg of preseason, Vieira gave an update on all manner of subjects to reporters on a conference call.

Here’s some of the best bits of what was said…

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Any bids for Jack Harrison?

“It’s a question for Claudio. Since we are here, all my focus and concentration is on training the team. To try to improve every aspect of their game, so we can be ready to play against Kansas. That’s my only concentration. Jack is here and working as hard as everyone else.”

On First Days…

“It’s been good – of course, the new players coming from Europe, they need time to adjust to the way we want to play, the way we want to defend. The first week is always difficult physically, especially when you stop for 10-12 weeks but when you’re a new player in a new team, you try to find new space and learn about your teammates. There’s a lot of connection needed between the players. They’re doing well, I’m really happy with the first few days of training and I’m sure the new players will give a lot of the team.”

On David Villa’s Condition…

“His performance will dictate how many games he will play. David is a professional who knows himself and if he can play all the games the way he did last year, I’ll take it every day. Then, we have to see – he’s been really good in preseason, he still loves playing football. I don’t go into the season telling myself we have to protect him, no. He wants to be on the field every day and that is his strength.”

On Having Four Goalkeepers…

“We were looking at the players we’d brought in during the window and we looked at our roster. We always wanted to have four goalkeepers, even for me to help organize the training sessions. We wanted a young goalkeeper we could train and develop for the future of the football club.

“This is the world we’re living in – it’s all about competition. Of course it will make our jobs more difficult but they have to compete and then that they deserve to play. Of course it’s difficult but I think to have four goalkeepers gives me a better organization in training. Now it’s hard for me to please everyone but I’m not here to please people, I’m here to coach the football team.”

On Brad Stuver Rumors…

“This is just a rumor on Twitter? (Yes) No no, Brad is going nowhere. We took him, he’s going to stay with us – he’s not going anywhere.”

On Academy Players Training with the First-Team…

“What was important for me and Claudio and the football club was to give the Academy players experience with the first-team. After preseason, we’ll have a really clear idea on their best options. It’s all about the experience and how they’ll develop with the physical and mental demands. It’s going to be tough for them, a good test to see where they are at the moment.”

On Gio Reyna…

“For a kid of 15, 16, he’s got a physical presence. His game understanding is really good – he can score goals, he understands the demands of the game tactically – he’s a really smart kid. He’s shown some really good stuff.”

On James Sands’ Best Position…

“James is still really young and we have to keep developing him in both positions. It’s still too early to say where his best position is. We’ll work on him in central defense and central midfield. In a few years we’ll see where his best position is – right now, we’ll make him play in both.

“Our plan is not to sign young players just to sign them. It’s important for us to create a pathway. If we sign them, it’s because we strongly believe they can play in the first-team. There’s no point signing them otherwise.”

On 2017 vs 2018…

“We were more solid as a team in 2017. We looked less vulnerable on transitions and we were stronger on defensive set pieces.

“In 2018, I want to see the team becoming even stronger. One of our objectives is to try to make less mistakes in our last 30 yards and I would want to see the team conceding less goals.

“When you look at the players we bought, we’re closer to Toronto this year. I think we can challenge them. At the same time, you look at Atlanta and the majority of the teams in the East, they’ve improved a lot. There’s a few teams who are strong enough to challenge Toronto and I think we are one of them.

“Unquestionably, I think the league will be stronger this year when you look at the players coming into the league.”

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