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New York City FC 2018 outlook: younger, better

New York City FC continued it upward trend in 2017 and hopes to stay on that trajectory moving forward.

Head coach: Patrick Vieira

2017 finish: 16-9-9, 57 points; No. 2 East.

Postseason: Lost to Columbus in conference semifinal.

Season recap

New York City FC turned in strong performances from start to finish in 2017. The club, which joined the league in 2015, continued to steadily progress by ending the season second in the Supporters’ Shield standings.

David Villa once again was a MLS MVP candidate with 22 goals and nine assists. The additions of midfielder Maxi Moralez (5 goals, 9 assists) and 21-year-old forward Jack Harrison (10 goals, 6 assists) pushed NYCFC forward, but in the end a motivated Columbus Crew side fighting for its existence knocked NYCFC out of the playoffs.

Farewell Maestro: One of soccer’s biggest names retired after the 2017 season: Andrea Pirlo, known affectionately by fans as The Maestro. He played two and a half seasons with NYCFC to end his glittering 22-year career. The World Cup champion, former Italian national team player, six-time Serie A champion and a two-time UEFA Champions League winner totaled 60 appearances, a goal and 18 assists in MLS.

2018 goals

Keep building. NYCFC wants to keep taking steps forward, and even a baby step will get the big-city team atop its conference rankings and deep in the playoffs.

The club also is focused on shifting its roster toward younger players in their prime, according to sporting director Claudio Reyna.

Season opener: March 4 @ Sporting Kansas City, 7:30 p.m.

Offseason moves

Remember the youth movement Reyna mentioned? Signing Paraguayan young designated player Jesus Medina to fortify the attack is a good start.

Signings – D Anton Tinnerholm; M Jesus Medina (young designated player)

Trades – F Khiry Shelton traded to Sporting KC in exchange for D Saad Abdul-Salaam; Acquired GK Brad Stuver from Columbus in exchange for a 2019 fourth-round SuperDraft pick; Ulises Segura’s right of first refusal to to D.C. United in exchange for $50k general allocation money.

Re-signed – D Ronald Matarrita

Contract option declined –RJ Allen (later traded to Orlando City in exchange for a 3rd Round MLS SuperDraft pick in 2018); D Frederic Brillant (later traded to D.C. United in exchange for $75,000 General Allocation Money and a 2018 International Roster Spot); M Miguel Camargo; D Shannon Gomez; GK Eirik Johansen; M Mikey Lopez; D Jefferson Mena; F Sean Okoli; D Andraz Struna; M John Stertzer; D Ethan White.

Other –Andrea Pirlo (retired)

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