As New York City FC looks toward 2024, the team is continuing to rebuild after the mass exodus before and during the 2023 season. Many veterans departed the team, which caused a youth movement.
Unfortunately, the lack of veterans and arguably Nick Cushing's coaching challenges caused the Pigeons to miss the playoffs in Major League Soccer for the first time since 2015. Many thought the roster at hand should have led to a mid-table finish. In all honesty, one more win would have led to an eighth-place finish over eleventh.
Some new signings were made, especially over the summer. However, the moves made during the secondary transfer window caused many of the new players to play under half of the MLS season. Some, like Birk Risa, played in only ten matches.
There is no question that more new faces are needed. This includes starters and depth players. In fact, NYCFC lacked depth, and there were times when Cushing would make a change that could not impact the team at all.
NYCFC should sign a European star
Luckily, Sporting Director David Lee is being open about what NYCFC needs. He said the following about the needs and plans for the 2024 roster:
"From a roster standpoint, we intend to add players across all outfield positions – defense, midfield, and forward. We know we did not score enough goals this season to be a top team in the Eastern Conference so there will be a particular focus on the attacking positions, but we also need additional depth and quality across the whole roster if we are to be as successful and competitive as we want to be in all competitions.- David Lee
That said, there are two key attributes to a successful offseason. The first focuses on the players we can bring in to enhance the group, but it is equally important to focus on improving and developing the many extremely talented players we already have so they can be even more impactful for us in 2024."
As one can see, Lee knows NYCFC has to make impactful signings while aiding the talent already on the roster. In the past, the club has been successful when bringing over young and talented players from South America. Valentín Castellanos and Gabriel Pereira are two great examples.
Hence, the Bronx side should sign a player or two that has a lot of promise where they can develop into a star. At the same time, that player should make an impact immediately or quickly in 2024. There have been some rumors on social media about such players, but no moves are close.
Although, NYCFC should also consider signing a European club star. Specifically, they should sign someone from one of the top leagues in Europe. There are two reasons why this should occur.
To begin, the Pigeons are in a problematic spot. Many fans are upset and disappointed about the past year. They have every right. As a result, the attendance might go down. Yet, if the club brings in a name-worthy player who can still produce for a few more years, then that might lead some people to Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.
It has been a while since NYCFC had a player who was a star from the beginning. Castellanos developed into a star, in which the team should continue finding players like him. Still, a European star will make waves across the tri-state area. Supporters will get excited and believe the team will fight to be a top competitor.
More importantly, NYCFC will know they are signing a talented player. The new signing would have already proven themselves in Europe and can still play. They would be an immediate starter and make an impact on the team. Of course, it would be incredible if they were a goal-scorer. At the same time, a Maxi Moralez type of player would also be the right move.
Notably, unless the rumored fourth Designated Player comes to fruition this season, a current DP will have to be bought down. Or, the European star would have to take a major pay cut, which is an unlikely scenario. Ideally, with Inter Miami CF's signing of Lionel Messi, MLS will be encouraged to change the current rules, add a fourth DP, and increase the salary cap.
Regardless of the rules in 2024, NYCFC should do everything to sign a European star. Many players might be an option in the summer, like Antoine Griezmann. That does not mean the Pigeons should go after him, but that is an example of a player who might one day come to MLS.
New York City FC has many roster decisions to make. No matter what, they must build a roster to compete. Missing the playoffs in 2024 is not an option.