Recent injuries enhance NYCFC's need for more defenders

  • The need for defenders is evident for NYCFC
  • There is no question that the Pigeons must make those summer moves
Tayvon Gray of NYCFC
Tayvon Gray of NYCFC / Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Originally published on 7/9/24; updated on 7/12/24

For the longest time, New York City FC's injury report has been pretty small compared to the other Major League Soccer teams. The Pigeons did not have too many players out week in and week out. Sure, there was the occasional week, but for the most part, many of the players were available.

That has changed over the last few weeks, especially over the weekend. On Saturday, four NYCFC players were unavailable. Maxi Moralez and Birk Risa are thought to be short term while Malachi Jones will likely be out for the rest of the season. Then, it is unknown how long Christian McFarlane will be out due to a muscle injury.

To make matters worse, NYCFC lost Tayvon Gray and Kevin O'Toole to leg injuries during the Austin FC loss. Their timetables are also unknown. Fans can only hope they will not be out for a while, but like always, they will have to wait and see.

NYCFC still needs a left-back or center-back

With all of that said, NYCFC is a little thin in the fullback positions. Moreover, if Risa is not ready for the upcoming match against Chicago Fire FC, then one can declare that the Pigeons lack depth in the defense at this time. Not too long ago, Skyscraper Blues discussed the need for another left-back or center-back in case of any injuries. This recent week has shown that it is vital for NYCFC to bring in another defender or two during the secondary transfer window.

The left-back role is the greatest example. McFarlane has not been considered often to play with the first team. Regardless of whether he is healthy, there were always questions about whether Nick Cushing would play the young Homegrown in Kevin O'Toole's absence. It has been seen both ways where he did play and where he was not considered. Hence, it was thought that the club should bring in someone else.

Now, it is possible both players will be out. Justin Haak did a good job in the second half for NYCFC in Nashville, but he is not a natural left-back. In other words, Cushing utilized him there in an emergency situation.

Meanwhile, Strahinja Tanasijević has not proven himself as a backup center-back. The Bronx side needs to trade for or sign another to compete as that third center-back. Perhaps they can find someone who can compete with Thiago Martins and Risa, for the Serbian has not been able to do so.

At the very least, Mitja Ilenič is there as the other right-back following Gray's injury. Cushing already has rotated them over the season, with Gray's superb play leading to his last few starts. However, it would be great if NYCFC could find a player who can play both fullback roles. That would cover both sides for the price of one.

The past week is proof that the backline needs help. NYCFC must shore up the defensive players on the roster. Again, everyone hopes the injured players will be okay and back on the pitch as soon as possible. NYCFC needs to add another defender to the team, especially at the left-back or center-back position.

Editing note:
The piece initially said that Gray and O'Toole were injured in the Nashville SC game, but it was the Austin FC match.