The new season is just around the corner as New York City FC will prepare for its preseason tournament at the Coachella Valley Invitational, or CVI, in Indio, California. Before heading to California, they are set to face off with Barcelona S.C. on January 24 and the Philadelphia Union on January 27. Both are closed-door friendlies, so it should not be long before we see the Boys in Blue on the pitch.
Despite a quiet offseason, NYCFC will ideally bring a strong side to California as they look to put the pieces to a winning team. They are set to face the San Jose Earthquakes, the Portland Timbers, and the LA Galaxy from February 7-14. This will be the busiest preparation period before the Pigeons embark on their 2024 campaign on February 24.
The Coachella Valley Invitational Preview for NYCFC
Who will join NYCFC at the CVI?
As of now, all NYCFC players who remained on the roster from last season are expected to travel. This excludes Maxi Moralez, who is still recovering from an ACL tear, and the players the club said will not be on the preseason roster. Of course, any injuries that occur before the CVI could lead to a player missing out on the preseason tournament.
Several members of NYCFC II will also make the trip as they prepare for their MLS NEXT Pro season in March. New signings will also join the club, like Homegrown Alex Rando.
What could be a potential Starting XI?
Though it is early, NYCFC already has an idea of what the Starting XI will look like heading into the preseason tournament. Mounsef Bakrar and Julián Fernández are the two favorites for the starting center-forward role and right-winger, respectively.
After a poor 2023 season, Talles Magno will look to retake the left-winger spot. Santiago Rodríguez can also play on the wings and as an attacking midfielder. However, with NYCFC’s depth in the midfield, Magno could return to the bench, especially since Andrés Pereawill will stay in New York City longer than expected. Keaton Parks and James Sands are also shoo-in for their defensive midfield role after a solid campaign last year.
In the back line, there aren’t many changes, with Birk Risa showing that he can fill the shoes left by Maxime Chanot after he departed for France. Thiago Martins will continue his role at center back as well. Moreover, Kevin O’Toole is the likely favorite for left-back following his two-year contract extension. Tayvon Gray and Mitja Ilenič will continue to fight it out for the starting right-back position, with Gray the slight favorite as he enters his fifth professional season.
The goalkeeping slot seems to have already been decided, as Matt Freese will enter as the number-one keeper for NYCFC. He had an impressive outing during the last two months of the season, sending Luis Barraza to the bench to end the campaign. However, both keepers had their contracts picked up by the team, so they will play a crucial role in the net for 2024.
Will new faces be joining the team?
Technically, NYCFC has signed one player outside the organization, for Perea was initially on loan, and the rest were Homegrown signings. It looks to be that the new signing Hannes Wolf will join the club for preseason. The Austrian has not played a match for Borussia Mönchengladbach this season and is looking to restart his career in MLS.
He has made a total of 69 appearances for Gladbach in all competitions since 2020, recording five goals and three assists in that span. The winger will be a player to watch for the boys in blue, with the 24-year-old likely to bring experience playing at one of the highest levels of European club football.
What to expect from Coachella Valley
Like most preseason matches, many of the starters are only expected to get at most 45 minutes of play. This allows NYCFC to play some of their players from the reserves. Fans will likely get to see MLS NEXT Pro players Adam Basse and Rio Hope-Gund.
They will also get a chance to see their brand-new first-team signing Alex Rando as he joins the club from NYCFC II. He started in 14 matches last season in the MLS NEXT Pro, allowing 27 goals while holding on to three clean sheets.
It is also expected other players will join New York City FC once new signings are made.