New York City FC has only started the Major League Soccer season, and so far the team is 0-1-1. With the crazy offseason, the roster was deemed questionable by supporters, and there was a valid concern with whether the Pigeons could compete in 2023.
While the answer is not clear, supporters did get some great news last week. NYCFC brought back midfielder James Sands and Santiago Rodríguez. Sands was out on loan and struggling, and the loan deal for Rodríguez expired before he was signed a few months later to a permanent deal. The midfield is looking stronger, and hopefully the team can bring in at least one more player.
There are still some holes, but the most obvious position that is bare is the striker/ center forward position. At this time, there is no true proven striker on the roster. The idea is that Talles Magno will act as the center-forward, and perhaps he can eventually adjust to the position like Valentín Castellanos.
Nonetheless, at this time, Magno is not a player who should be up front and center. He is a much more talented winger, and not having him on the wings can hurt the Pigeons. They are wasting precious games by having Magno play as the number nine.
New York City FC needs to bring in a goal-scoring striker
Therefore, New York City FC must sign a proven goal-scorer, and they must be a striker or center-forward. What matters is that they can play up top in the center. Most importantly, they cannot sign someone who is on the fringes at their current club and barely plays. They need someone who scores consistently.
Moreover, if Magno is in the plans for NYCFC for now, and he gets hurt, then the club truly does not have someone who can step in. Yes, Gabriel Segal was signed, but it was thought he would spend more time with NYCFC II this season. Perhaps someone from the MLS Next Pro side could be a difference maker and surprise everyone, but right now, that is yet to be seen.
Additionally, it is evident that the Pigeons desperately need a striker. In their first few games this season, the squad only has one goal, which came from Gabriel Pereira in the match against Chicago Fire FC. Pereira is a fantastic player who is actually being played in his position: on the wings. The Brazilian is someone who can have ten or more goals this season, but his scoring alone will not help NYCFC compete.
Now, this is not to say the Pigeons do not have any attacking abilities. In both fixtures against Nashville SC and Chicago, the team had nine shots total, but with only two and three on target respectively. The attacking third was unable to capitalize on opportunities presented. There are also quite a few players who can provide chances into the box. What is needed is that killer instinct, and while players like Pereira have the ability to score, they do not have that killer instinct that is often seen in strikers.
Plus, NYCFC tends to play a possession based 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, depending on where they are during the game. Their style and choice of lineup requires a striker or center-forward. The wingers and full-backs traditionally get the ball into the box, and there should always be someone there, ready to pounce.
There are so many reasons to have a true, goal-scoring, number nine. New York City FC desperately needs to find someone who can score 15 or 20 plus goals in a season, and they need to find someone who is well-established at the moment. Truthfully, it is better to not rush the process, so if that means the Bronx side will somewhat struggle until the summer, then so be it. But Magno is not the answer, and someone needs to be brought in at some point in 2023.