NYCFC Notes: Mendoza loan talks continue, Lampard, Poku status, injury updates, more

Mendoza NYCFC

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

Although his club confirmed the move, Stiven Mendoza has yet to finalize his loan agreement to New York City FC.

Corinthians announced that the 23-year-old Colombian striker had arrived in New York on Tuesday but head coach Patrick Vieira said talks are still ongoing.

“Mendoza is a player that we quite like a lot,” Vieira said. “We’re still in discussions and the deal is not done yet. Hopefully it will be done in the next few days.”

Mendoza has been with five different clubs in Colombia, India and Brazil since he started his career in 2010 and has appeared for Colombia at the U17 and U20 level.

Iraola, Lampard status for Sunday uncertain

Andoni Iraola was held out of NYCFC’s opener as a precaution after he suffered a hamstring injury when the team was in Chicago. Iraola is New York City’s first-choice right back and spent most of the preseason playing with the other starters in the team’s defense.

Vieira would not commit to declaring Iraola’s availability for Sunday, but he is likely to be a game-time decision.

Vieira also would not commit towards declaring Frank Lampard fit for Sunday’s match as well. Lampard took part in some media day activities and has been doing individual work at the gym. Vieira said he is waiting to see how Lampard responds to the individual work before deciding to include him.

Mena rejoins training

Jefferson Mena began training with the team this week after he missed all but one day of preseason with an ankle sprain. Mena is expected to compete for first team minutes at centerback but his injury plunged him down the depth chart, Vieira said.

“He’s a really strong player and he has pace but he has to work really hard,” Vieira said. “There are other players who are doing really well and he’s behind those players. He’s as well a player I count on and we will have a massive part to play during the season.”

For the moment, NYCFC remain thin in defense with Iraola and Mena injured. If Iraola cannot start, New York City would likely field the same backline from its opening match against the Fire.

Vieira: Poku has a place

Kwadwo Poku is not going anywhere.

In the first man-made controversy of the year, radio host Eric Wynalda—Poku’s former coach with the Atlanta Silverbacks—claimed that Poku was being passed over by Vieira after Poku failed to appear in NYCFC’s season opener and that he should immediately ask for a transfer.

Wynalda’s theory got a boost when the midfielder was not listed among those who would be available for media day Thursday, but Vieira quelled any speculation when asked about Poku’s place in the team.

“Poku is a player that will have a massive part on our roster,” Vieira said. “He is a player that will be important for us. At the moment, he didn’t get involved in the first game but it’s just one game. The league is going to be really long, really difficult and every single player will be important for us.”

Although he’s a popular player, Poku simply did not earn a starting spot in preseason. Mix Diskerud and Thomas McNamara are ahead of him on the depth chart. Poku had less playing time in preseason than Diskerud or McNamara and struggled in the one game he started.