New York City FC: 2. They should have signed a right-back
When Anton Tinnerholm went down injured with an Achilles tendon rupture toward the end of the 2021 season, there were questions on who would replace him. Fortunately, Tayvon Gray stepped up to the plate and became the predominant starter by the playoffs. The young right-back performed well, and there was relief he could fill the position for the time being.
Still, this meant Gray was the only true right-back on the roster going into 2022, for Tinnerholm is expected to be out until the summer at the earliest. And so far, the Homegrown player has been spectacular. Not only has he performed well defensively, as seen on a Vancouver counter-attack where he marked players instead of chasing the ball, but he continues to improve every week in the attack.
So, when Gray had to be substituted off in the 22nd minute due to injury, one can imagine panic crept up on fans, for there is no other right-back. Possibly there will be someone available from the MLS Next Pro squad temporarily, but currently, that information is not known. Therefore, NYCFC should have signed a right-back in the off-season.
Meanwhile, Andres Jasson came on to play as the right back after Gray went down injured, but the other Homegrown is not a right-back. The young player is a winger, and thus in the attack, he did well. But defensively, whereas there were some solid moments, he was beaten down the line numerous times. He could not stop Vancouver, and the Pigeons’ right side became a weakness.
Although, Jasson did do well when defending with the overall defense, and even slid to the ground to block a Vancouver chance and force a corner. Alas, the hesitation is there, especially since Vancouver is still rebuilding and growing. And, it is unknown how long Gray will be out, or whether his injury is serious enough where he will be out.
Nonetheless, Gray is the only right-back for the next few months, and NYCFC needs to have another right-back on the roster to at least back him up. Or, the Pigeons could sign someone who is versatile and can play in that spot. To not do so is risky, especially as the season progresses.