NYCFC’s Freshman Class: Where Are They Now?

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by JACK HAZZARD

Although New York City FC was eliminated from the playoffs in the conference semifinals last year, there is little doubt the club had an impressive second year in Major League Soccer — especially compared to the team’s inaugural season.

Changes in personnel over the off-season, yielded an unpredictable and entertaining side. After finishing in eighth place in 2015, NYCFC rose to second place in 2016.

Last year, NYCFC finished with only 14 of its original 28 players as everyone on the roster adjusted to the squad’s new coach, Patrick Vieira. A little more than one week before the start of the 2017 season, NYCFC has only six players returning from the inaugural season (including Mix Diskerud).

Where have the other 20 ended up?

Kwame Watson-Siriboe – Indy Eleven (NASL)

Center back Kwame Watson-Siribo, 30, joined New York in August 2014, in a trade with Real Salt Lake for a 2016 draft pick. Watson-Siriboe was released after the season after playing in 12 matches. He then joined the USL side Orange County (Calif.) Blues, where he made eight appearances. He signed recently with Indy Eleven.

Jeb Brovsky – Free Agent

Midfielder Jeb Brovsky, 27, played 15 matches for NYCFC in 2015 before he was released. The Notre Dame alum struggled to find consistent playing time under coach Jason Kries. He played for the NASL’s Minnesota United last year. He is now unattached.

Javier Calle – America de Cali (Colombia)

Javier Calle, 25, spent a year in New York while on loan from Colombian club Independiente Medellin. The winger played in 12 matches for NYCFC, scoring 1 goal and returned to Colombia at the end of the 2015 MLS season.

George John – Free Agent

Picked up in the expansion draft, the former FC Dallas center back George John, 29, did not make an appearance for the club. He did not play in 2016 and is currently unattached.

Chris Wingert

Chris Wingert – Real Salt Lake (MLS)

The veteran defender Chris Wingert, 34, is back with Real Salt Lake, the team that drafted him out of St. John’s University. He was released by NYCFC after the 2015 season after making 25 appearances.

Shay Facey – Heerenveen (the Netherlands)

Defender Shay Facey, 21, played for NYCFC on loan from Manchester City in 2015, making 22 appearances. He returned to Manchester City after the season, leaving again on loan, first to Rotherham United then to Heerenveen.

Angelino – Manchester City (England)

Like Facey, Angelino joined New York on loan from parent side Manchester City. The Spanish left back displayed surprising quickness and a dynamic offensive mind. Called back to Manchester City, he is being tested in Europe on loan with Spanish second division side Mallorca.

Sebastian Velasquez – Real Monarchs (USL)

Sebastian Velasquez, 26, joined NYCFC after spending two seasons with Real Salt Lake. He played in 12 matches under Jason Kreis before deciding to sign with the Rayo OKC of the NASL. With Rayo OKC not active this year, he signed with the Real Monarchs for the 2017 USL season.

Ryan Meara – Red Bulls (MLS)

Loaned to NYCFC from rivals New York Red Bulls, goalkeeper Ryan Meara, 25, played in one match under Jason Kreis, serving as a backup for Josh Saunders. He returned to the Red Bulls, but spent the year with their USL team, making 21 appearances as the club won the league title.

Andrew Jacobson – Vancouver (MLS)

Midfielder Andrew Jacobson was the club’s fifth player, acquired from FC Dallas for a third-round pick in the 2016 draft. Jacobson was a pivotal part early on, appearing in 33 matches. He was loaned to a Norwegian club before being shipped to the Vancouver Whitecaps last year for targeted allocation money.

Ned Grabavoy – Retired

Scoring two goals in 25 appearances, Ned Grabavoy, 33, enjoyed a successful campaign in New York. The club did not re-sign him, with Grabavoy moving to the Portland Timbers as a free agent, where he played 22 games before retiring last October.

Kwadwo Poku

Kwadwo Poku – Miami FC (NASL)

Kwadwo Poku was as a fan favorite during NYCFC’s 2015 season. After struggling to earn a spot under Coach Patrick Vieira, Poku was sold to Miami FC mid-season, where he made 11 appearances, scoring 5 goals.

Patrick Mullins – DC United (MLS)

Patrick Mullins, 24, was traded to D.C. United at the end of the summer transfer period. In his one and a half seasons with NYCFC, he scored 6 goals in 31 matches. He had a successful 2016 campaign with DC United, scoring 8 goals in 14 matches.

Adam Nemec – Dinamo Bucharest (Romania)

Adam Nemec, 31, a powerful, bearded striker, struggled to make an impact in New York. Paired alongside David Villa, the native of Slovakia was unable to find a connection with the Spanish star. He failed to score in nine games. After being released, Nemec spent time in the Netherlands with Willem II before landing in Romania.

Josh Saunders – Orlando City (MLS)

Josh Saunders, 35, New York’s original big man in goal, was \ traded to Orlando City (for a fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft) in the off-season after being supplanted by Eirik Johansen.

Jason Hernandez – Unattached

Jason Hernandez, a solid player in the team’s first year, is currently without a club. The former San Jose Earthquakes star joined NYCFC in its inaugural season, making 57 appearances. During his time in New York, Hernandez earned his first international cap, for Puerto Rico.

Andoni Iraola – Retired

Perhaps the most underrated NYCFC player, defensive midfielder Andoni Iraola, 34, retired. Iraola joined NYCFC after spending 12 years with La Liga club Athletic Bilbao. The Basque/Spanish international played of 40 matches for NYCFC.

Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard – Retired

Although his debut was delayed, Frank Lampard left NYCFC with his head held high. After battling injuries, Lampard had a solid second season, giving Coach Patrick Vieira’s side a much-needed boost in the second half of 2016. In his two years with the club as a designated player, Lampard appeared in 29 matches and scored 15 goals.

Mehdi Ballouchy – Retired (NYCFC Academy Coach)

Mehdi Ballouchy, 33, a native of Morocco, moved from the red side of the metro area to the blue side, with an in-between stop in Vancouver in 2014. Ballouchy made 23 appearances for NYCFC and scored 3 goals during his two-year tenure with the club. He is now an academy coach with the club.

Tony Taylor – Pacos de Ferreira (Portugal)

Like Iraola, Tony Taylor, 27, was an underrated player for NYCFC. Typically a backup for David Villa, Taylor struggled to earn game time. When Taylor was able to take the field, however, he was able to produce. He joined Portuguese first division side Pacos de Ferreira during the most recent transfer window.

Connor Brandt – Unattached

When soccer fans hear the name of midfielder Connor Brandt, 24, they can’t help but feel sympathy. He struggled with a lingering injury since joining NYCFC in 2015, only making one appearance.