NEW YORK — In his first year at New York City FC, Anton Tinnerholm experienced a midseason coaching change and the unintended disruption that can accompany the adjustment.
Dome Torrent became the third coach in New York City’s five-year existence when he replaced Patrick Vieira in June. Torrent’s coaching pedigree is impressive – 11 years sitting next to Pep Guardiola at three of the world’s big clubs, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City.
Nonetheless, a change four months into a successful season can be difficult for both sides. The Catalonian Torrent moved to a new country, while the players labored to adjust to the tweaks administered by their new manager.
Torrent now has had a full preseason with the team, and Tinnerholm told Pro Soccer USA there is evidence of a healthier understanding between the coaching staff and the squad ahead of their 2:30 p.m. ET season opener Saturday in Orlando.
“Of course, this is Dome’s first preseason here, and now there are more details in how he wants us to play,” Tinnerholm said. “A little more how he wants us to play, especially from the back and the buildup, how he wants us to be in possession. We’re working on the details.”
Under Vieira, the Pigeons were instructed to build out of the back – nearly to a fault. Tinnerholm said the rhythm that begins with the goalkeeper is vital, but the instruction is to avoid committing turnovers in certain moments.
“It always depends on the situation. We can’t play out of the back all the time,”said Tinnerholm, NYCFC’s defender of the year a season ago. “If the risk is too high, we have to put a long ball so we can’t say we are going to play every single ball out of the back. We need to have a mix and be very careful when teams are putting the pressure high. It’s not black or white. We have to mix it up and be smart.”
Tinnerholm also said Torrent has put more of a focus on dead-ball situations.
“Even set pieces [are] a bit new this year,” the right back said. “It’s important for the new players to get the information on set pieces and open play as well. We also have to take care of of the new players on the team.”
Among the additions to the 2019 version of NYCFC is a fledgling group of midfielders led by European transfers Keaton Parks, 21, and Juan Pablo Torres, 19.
Parks and Torres are part of a youthful trend in the Bronx, with an average MLS roster age of just under 24. Tinnerholm expects they will contribute to the championship cause.
“Of course, otherwise they wouldn’t be here,” Tinnerholm, 27, said. “You know to be patient with the young guys – I’ve been there as well. You have your ups and downs, especially when you are young. Everyone can see they have talent.”
Another new entrant on the City first team is Romanian transfer Alexandru Mitriță. The 24-year-old “Romanian Giovinco” has been dynamic and prolific in his only two preseason appearances, contributing a pair of laser finishes.
“It’s very similar to Giovinco how he plays,” Tinnerholm said. “He has a fantastic right foot with a fantastic shot. He scored two fantastic goals. He’s going to make an impact in the league I can tell you that.”
Tinnerholm is certain the necessary talent and system are present for a title chase. However, after City experienced a disjointed conclusion to 2018, success could elude them without unity.
Whether that exists will be seen this weekend.
“We have to work together,” Tinnerholm said. “That’s one of the key points this season”