By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith
With all the talk about who or what is to blame for the downward spiral of New York City Football Club, one thing is clear: there is a downside to a heavily international roster. In all honesty, it seems like ex-coach Patrick Vieira’s final revenge, as he brought in most of the current roster and these players seem to get called up to various international games on a constant basis.
In addition to absences due to the World Cup, NYCFC has dealt with an almost unending flow of player call-ups for international friendlies. Add a one-two punch of players being injured and then just as they are healthy to play for NYCFC, they get called up to their “home” country team.
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) September 11, 2018
Since March, we have honored the call-ups of Maxime Chanot, Ebenezer Ofori, Ronald Matarrita, Alexander Ring, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Rodney Wallace and Jo Inge Berget. And now to put a cherry on top of our halfway melted sundae of an MLS season, Paraguay has called up Jesús Medina. To refresh your memory, Medina has been out for the past five-plus weeks due to a hamstring injury. He may soon be back on the pitch but it’s incomprehensible that he may head straight to play for Paraguay potentially before he even returns to NYCFC.
This is almost the exact same scenario we dealt with when Tajouri-Shradi who came back from injury and then quickly left to represent the Libyan national team. You can’t make this stuff up.
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) September 25, 2018
The only positive takeaway from this is that various international teams see players’ experience and growth in MLS as worthy, validating MLS as a league. MLS teams should be building their teams with the best players possible whether they are “American” or from other countries if we want a high level of play. Yes, it’s great to have a league where domestic players have opportunities to play but there shouldn’t be charity slots on teams or it clearly dumbs down the league.
I assume that MLS wants to continue to be attractive to international coaches and teams and what they can do to make better synergy with these leagues would be to get on the same calendar as the rest of the world leagues. Knowing that this will never happen, they could extend the season by a few weeks, and then take the international break with the rest of the world.
For now, to New York City fans it feels like we are finally almost back to full strength with our lineup but after our poor performances in August, it may be too late to salvage this season. However, the dreamer in me asks the question: With this roster returning to as close to full strength as it has been in months, why can’t we get back to that early season form that so delighted fans and terrorized opponents?
The playoffs are a great “do over”. Hopefully, we can regain our form right now.
Featured image: @TishaGale
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