Why is there is disconnect in NYCFC’s midfield?

-The NYCFC midfield is very talented, but there is a disconnect
NYCFC / Jose L. Argueta/ISI Photos/GettyImages

New York City FC's preseason has come to an end, and the start of the regular season is only a week away. The Bronx side was not in the best shape during the preseason, for they went 0-3-3.

In the Coachella Valley Invitational, the three matches ended in draws. The biggest flaw for the Boys in Blue is the disconnect in the midfield. Even with talent and new signings, NYCFC struggles to maintain a solid midfield that has been so dominant for years prior.   

But what exactly is their issue?  

Multiple issues can explain the midfield disconnect

Is it the chemistry? Hannes Wolf joined the team as a potential starter in the midfield. His experience playing in Europe may not transition right away to the team, with the rest of the players used to the fast one-two plays for the counterattack. Getting NYCFC back to their fast attack is the goal for their redemption season, but it starts with the chemistry of the midfield players.   

Wolf will need to learn to adjust to the new style of play, which includes finding ways to find attacking players like Mounsef Bakrar and Santiago Rodríguez in the final third. Also, once Maxi Moralez returns, it will be a big plus in chemistry with Rodríguez, James Sands, and Keaton Parks familiar with his style of play.

Meanwhile, NYCFC has struggled to keep the ball in the midfield. Last season, they allowed more goals than scored for the first time since 2015, which coincidentally were the only two seasons the Pigeons failed to make the playoffs. When Moralez initially left at the beginning of 2023, NYCFC lacked that “magic” creator. Besides the Argentine, who else can that player be?   

Rodríguez is more of an attacker and will often play as a number ten, but he is not like Moralez. Talles Magno will hopefully play on the wings, so he is not an option. This gives both Parks and Sands a bigger responsibility to prevent the ball from being lost in the midfield, but they will have the help of Andrés Perea for that extra boost in the center of the field.   

Additionally, the inconsistency of several players cost the team greatly, especially during the first four months of last season. Magno was a subject of criticism for his lack of consistency in 2023. Even Sands had periods where he was not his usual self.

NYCFC also struggled without a consistent striker scoring goals. Outside of Rodríguez, the midfield only contributed three goals in the 2023 regular season. Bringing that number up is key. With Wolf, a more consistent midfield could be on the way for the Pigeos as we head into the opening of the MLS season.