New York City FC has a lot of work to do for the 2024 season. 2023 was the worst season since the inaugural year, for the team finished in eleventh place and did not make the playoffs.
While transfers from other leagues cannot occur until the New Year, the trade window is open, and free agents are available within Major League Soccer. The Pigeons should take advantage of this, especially with free agents. There are some good players out there that can be starters or substitutes.
There is no question that NYCFC desperately needs a deeper bench to enhance the roster. The club should build for 2024 by signing players from other leagues and within MLS.
Since NYCFC can only engage with free agents, here are three MLS free agents the club should consider and sign.
Three free agents NYCFC should sign
Corey Baird has been in MLS since 2018 when he won the Rookie of the Year with Real Salt Lake. He has been a consistent player in the league and has had success. He might not be a big name, but the winger is one NYCFC would find value for. If he does not re-sign with Houston Dynamo FC, then he should be at the top of the club's list.
This season, Baird transitioned into the striker role and played most of the season there. Unlike Talles Magno, he proved he can play as a winger or a striker, so this would give Nick Cushing flexibility in the attacking third. Moreover, he had eight goals and six assists in the regular season. In total, he had 14 goals in all competitions.
Baird’s experience, ability to score, and even salary-wise would make him a good signing. His base salary was only $550,000 this season, so the value is something that should be considered.
Jonathan Mensah made a name for himself during his time with the Columbus Crew. The center-back was one of the best in MLS and still has more to give. He was with the San Jose Earthquakes this season and helped them make the playoffs.
NYCFC continues to be thin at the center-back position, so his signing would offer depth and even competition.
It would be a smart move for the Queens team to offer Mensah a contract. At this point, his salary can likely be less compared to what he is used to. He is talented but no longer worth more than $1 million. In addition, the Pigeons could draft a center-back or sign another at a lower salary to ensure the position is secure. Nonetheless, the free agent is worth spending a little more money to bring him in. His talent speaks for itself.
When NYCFC traded Héber to Seattle Sounders FC for 2023, it was a questionable move since there was a lack of center-forwards on the team. Of course, fans know the struggles the team went through with the lack of a striker for most of 2023.
Subsequently, the former NYCFC player is a free agent, so why not bring him home? Héber was happy here, and everyone adored him.
The difference this time is that the striker would not be signed to be a starter. Instead, he would be signed as a depth piece. The Pigeons still need to go out and sign a starting striker to compete with Mounsef Bakrar. It would be a good move though to have a few players that can play up front and center.
It would be great if Héber and New York City FC could reunite. He would be a solid veteran presence in the locker room. Maybe he can find his form from his first season with the Pigeons.