With New York City FC beginning to head into the final third of the MLS regular season, New York are eager to force themselves into a playoff position.
The team struggled at the beginning of the season, picking up scarce amount of points. Although NYCFC have begun to win games both home and away, it is evident that the board is not content with the way that the team is playing, as they continue to reinforce the squad with new, and improved players. With players from countries such as South Africa, England, Spain and Italy, this is NYCFC’s best XI, moving forward in the season.
Goalkeeper: Josh Saunders
The 34-year-old veteran keeper has been one of the stars for the new franchise. Saunders has been the backbone of the team with over 64 saves made in 18 games. Although Saunders has only kept 3 clean sheets, he has inspired a mediocre squad to a touching distance of 3 points from the playoffs. He has become a fan favorite instantly, and in my opinion, deserves to be NYCFC’s captain.
Right Back: Andoni Iraola
Although the right back conceded 4 goals in his NYCFC debut, Andoni Iraola will certainly improve the weak NYCFC defense with over 400, Spanish first division appearances under his belt, as well as Champions League and Europa League experience. Iraola brings experience, composure, as well as great vision from the right-back position.
Center Back: Tefu Mashamaite (Pending Signing)
The (soon to be) former Kaizer Chiefs defender, is definitely an improvement on the current defense. Mashamaite was voted as the South African Premier League’s player of the season. Mashamaite boasts an impressive record of 449 interceptions, 32 tackles and only committed a total of 7 fouls in the process of the 2014/15 season. His 90% passing completion rate will also do no harm for the new franchise.
Center Back: Shay Facey
Shay Facey is definitely one of the NYCFC’s most exciting youth prospects. The English center back, on loan from parent club, Manchester City, has expressed interest in signing for the New York side permanently which is definitely a massive bonus. Facey has experienced international football with England at U16, U17, U19, and U20 levels. Although Facey is quite short for his position, his understanding of the game and strong physical build will only benefit NYCFC.
Left Back: Angelino
Another loanee from Manchester City, Angelino is yet another prospect on NYCFC’s books. At only 18 years of age, Angelino has been dubbed “The best Manchester City youth product”, by legendary defensive midfielder, Patrick Viera. He made his debut against Toronto. Angelino is quick, agile, and is never shy to go in for a 50/50 despite his small build. The Spanish left back also has an eye for goal, scoring a hat-trick during one of Manchester City’s U21 games last season.
Defensive Midfield: Frank Lampard
The former Chelsea, Swansea, West Ham, and Manchester City midfielder is not a new face for any soccer supporter in the world. Perhaps the best midfielder to ever play in the Premier League, Lampard has scored 259 times in over 700 club appearances, as well as an additional 29 goals in 106 England appearances. There is no doubt that Lampard will play whenever fit, and NYCFC are definitely lucky to have him.
Central Midfield: Andrea Pirlo
NYCFC are lucky to have yet another midfield mastermind in Andrea Pirlo. One of Italy’s best ever players, Pirlo, had only just played in the Champions League final for Juventus, against the world’s greatest team, Barcelona. If Pirlo is good enough to start for Italy’s champions, he will surely be one of NYCFC’s stars. At 36, and with 678 club games under his belt, the Italian midfielder will undoubtedly bring experience to New York.
Central Midfield: Mix Diskerud
A USMNT regular, Mix Diskerud is NYCFC’s best American player. Diskerud is a versatile player, who can play across the midfield, and has played in all but one NYCFC game where he was eligible. Although Diskerud hasn’t necessarily scored or assisted too many times, he will definitely prove to be one of New York’s finest players during the rest of the season. At the age of 24, Diskerud still time to develop into a European quality player.
Central Midfield: Mehdi Ballouchy
The Moroccan born midfielder was selected for NYCFC during the 2014 expansion draft and has surprisingly become one of the most influential midfielders in the squad. Ballouchy, who has had vast experience in the MLS, playing for San Jose, Vancouver, Colorado, Real Salt Lake, and perhaps most controversially, the New York Red Bulls, brings an element of strength and flair to the side, which was evident in the side’s most recent clash with Toronto FC.
Forward: Patrick Mullins
Mullins, another player that was selected in the expansion draft, has also impressed the NYCFC faithful, proving as their “clutch player” when necessary. Mullins has acted as a side kick for the more impressive David Villa, but their partnership has blossomed over the course of the year. Mullins has scored a total of four goals, and is definitely on course to score many more later in the season.
Forward: David Villa
One of Spain’s finest products, David Villa has proved to be one of the MLS’ best ever players. Villa has scored 10 goals in 16 games, and has set an excellent example of being a team captain. If the former Valencia, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid man keeps performing at this level, NYCFC will surely make the playoffs, and possibly even compete to become MLS champions next season.