Patrick Vieira came with the resume when he was named head coach of New York City FC and last year guided his team to the eastern conference semifinals of the MLS playoffs. There was optimism because David Villa the premiere player and Vieira used the proper mix to getting this right for his team
Consider that NYCFC has not lost their last 11 regular season home matches at Yankee Stadium after their 2-1 win over San Jose Saturday afternoon. Vieira used the proper strategy that goes with chemistry to make this season special. In any sport the chemistry is so important and it showed again as Jack Harrison and Thomas McNamara got their first goals of the season as NYCFC improved to 2-1-1 in their first four games.
At this juncture last season, Vieira was struggling with decisions and who would be on the field. With Villa not having an impact in the scoring in this latest win that right chemistry was on the field. More so, NYCFC was coming off a bye week and the mental aspect of staying focused was very evident.
“I see Tommy in the right place at the right time, and with his strength, he put it in the back of the net, but sometimes you have a plan and games go in a different way and you have to change your plan,” said Vieira about the late game and winning goal that was scored by McNamara.
His midfielder came off the bench and those moves have described this chemistry.
The manager in baseball always plays percentages in late innings and sometimes they work, and at times they don’t. But it seems that Vieira has that same approach on the sidelines and his players respect the moves that are made. The percentages at this point have put NYCFC in the proper direction after these first four games.
“I made a decision to take off Andrea, not because he was having a bad game,” Vieira said about removing Andrea Pirlo, the other high profiled and international star who played a role with the Italy World Cup win of 2006. ‘I thought he was playing quite well. The way we were playing in the first half, we were managing to get on the board and dictate the game, it’s just I wanted something a little bit different and that’s why I changed Andrea.”
So in comes McNamara and the percentages worked again. As Vieira said, for McNamara the goal went in where it was supposed to.
“But that’s just a coach making a decision,” said Vieira in his quiet and calm tone, ‘but it’s was a tough one to make because Andrea was having a good game.”
If this was Joe Girardi making another move late in the game, where some work and some don’t, there would be more criticism. However this is the MLS and a team that competes in a market with fans who know their soccer. They are a robust group at Yankee Stadium and Vieira hears them cheer and wants to appease those loyal fans.
Often and more so last season, when NYCFC was not playing up to expectations, Vieira said in his post gam meetings with the media that the fans deserved better from him and his players. He promised to get better and it would. Two weeks ago after a 1-1 draw with Montreal, in the Bronx, Vieira was glad to get the points but not satisfied.
Said Vieira: “And defensively as well, we’ve conceded less this year, but there’s still parts of the game that we need to improve, but overall, I’m really pleased with our attitude when we’re on the field.”
Those changes made also put pressure on San Jose from their opportunities to score and in their prior three games NYCFC had possession more than 56.6 of the time and that added to 62 percent for the season.
The team had some time off during the bye week, but the mentality of getting back on the field was a key and according to McNamara, and those in the NYCFC locker room that was the approach that carried to their latest win.
“He’s a player’s coach,” says McNamara about his coach. “He knows his players well. With the week off we focused all the time. Some players he does not need to talk to, some he needs to go after, He makes everyone believe it’s about the team”
The instructions to McNamara from his coach were go on the offense, push, and score. That goal sent everyone home happy as NYCFC prepares for a week and their second match of the young season with D.C. United on the road next Saturday.
“You know we want to get three points at home,” said McNamara. “That is what we need to do every game when we’re playing at home and so that is what I was looking to do, to be solid with the the ball, to get myself forward trying to create things, and try to get myself into place where others are creating for me.”
And this time the chemistry worked again for Vieira. It seems that the coach is making the right moves and that can only help with the mentality.