NYCFC boss Vieira explains selection approach

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

Though his recent selections have gotten results, New York City FC head coach Patrick Vieira still perplexes observers with his lineup decisions.

Mix Diskerud has not started the last four games and was an unused sub in Sunday’s win against D.C. United. Kwadwo Poku has not appeared in the last three games. And Patrick Mullins was left off Sunday’s squad entirely, prompting unfounded rumors of a dust-up and potential trade.

Vieira, instead, praised Mullins’ response and his attitude.

“When you are the coach and you have 25 players, you are not going to make everyone happy,” Vieira said. “What I like about Patrick is the fact that he respected the decision and the way he’s working in training has been really good.

“His attitude is always right and he’s been respectful,” he continued. “He understands that I have options. I have to make a decision and he has to accept it and work hard. It’s the same for Patrick and the same other players. I’ve got [Jefferson] Mena, Shannon [Gomez], Poku and other players to look after.”

With Federico Bravo suspended for Sunday’s match against the Portland Timbers, Vieira will have to change the midfield he’s used to start the last four games. Vieira said Diskerud, Poku and Mehdi Ballouchy are all options to replace Bravo. He said Diskerud was not selected against DC because he felt the team needed more physicality in the midfield.

“Mix is an important player for us but I will make a decision as always the day before or day of the game,” Vieira said.

It is an unexpected numbers game for NYCFC in the midfield given Thomas McNamara, Mikey Lopez and Bravo’s recent performances. Andrea Pirlo is the lone constant as Vieira builds the squad around the Italian playmaker. Though Diskerud has been the odd player out, he said he has spoken with Vieira about what the head coach needs from him. He said the competition for spots has led to better performances from the team.

“The quality in training has been very good the past couple of weeks and I think you’ve seen that on the field as well,” Diskerud said. “There’s a lot of good players and a few spots. It’s a long season with a lot of games so I think everyone will get their opportunities. Everybody is going to get to play and be a part of the team.”

NYCFC have three games in two countries over the next week. Vieira said he is bringing the entire team on the trip, including Frank Lampard and Jack Harrison though both are unlikely to play. Along with the busy schedule, Vieira could lose Diskerud, Pirlo and Ronald Matarrita next month to international duty. He said that is why he’s not narrowing his squad anytime soon.

“I want to keep everyone involved,” Vieira said. “I think it is important because we’re going to be traveling, we’re going to have players suspended. We’re going to have players who are going to be injured and we have to have a squad to deal with it. It will be my responsibility to manage quite well because it is important for everyone to feel like they are part of the football club, they are part of the project and it will be important for me to manage that way.”