New York City FC needs help. Lots of it.
Thankfully, the club has some assets it can move to help improve its unbalanced roster.
New York City FC is off to another slow start in 2016, posting a 1-3-4 record that has seen new head coach Patrick Vieira and his men remain winless at home a quarter of the way through the campaign. One of the main contributing factors for that paltry record is NYCFC’s lack of offensive punch, as the club has scored just 10 goals so far.
On the surface, that number is not that bad, especially when compared to the amount that several other teams across the league have scored in the opening two months of the campaign. A closer look shows, however, that NYCFC has scored just four times in its last six games and that four of its 10 goals this year have come from star striker David Villa.
That is where Mix Diskerud and Kwadwo Poku come into the discussion.
Diskerud and Poku have both been talked up by Vieira and previous NYCFC head coach Jason Kreis during the past two seasons, but the managers’ actions have spoken louder than words. Diskerud has never really gotten going in New York City and has recently been demoted to the bench, and Poku remains primarily a super sub option to use only when certain occasions call for it.
While the two veterans have shown that they can sporadically make an impact, NYCFC would be wise to dangle one of them as trade bait for teams in need of some central midfield help. Other clubs might not necessarily be willing to part ways with one of their top players in exchange, but could help NYCFC add a couple of serviceable players in attacking positions, stockpile other assets, or unload some salary of its books. Maybe even a combination of the three.
Diskerud and Poku can start and contribute in this league, but are simply luxury players for NYCFC. Neither of them has proven indispensable in their time in the Big Apple, and both are part of a glut of central midfielders on NYCFC’s roster that could be made even worse when and if Frank Lampard returns from his mysterious calf injury.
That is why they could each make for a nice carrot in a trade. Diskerud’s salary (he made approximately $750,00 last year, according to the MLS Players Union) might not be ideal to take on, but he is a U.S. Men’s National Team regular that can be an upgrade in a true No. 8 role on the field and has appeal and marketability off of it. Poku, meanwhile, has proven to be deadly in the final third, but questions persist as to whether or not his game is well-rounded enough to be an every-game starter.
Still, there are teams that could use either Diskerud or Poku. D.C. United, the Seattle Sounders, and Houston Dynamo are all in need of some midfield help, and might be willing to make a deal with NYCFC for one of the two midfielders. Poku would make sense for the Sounders given their need for a playmaker, and Diskerud could certainly help D.C. United, which is playing former wide player Nick DeLeon centrally, or the struggling Dynamo.
NYCFC would be ill-advised to rid itself of both Diskerud and Poku. The MLS season is long, and having good depth always comes into play. Nonetheless, only one of them is really needed, especially since there are other decent central midfielders like Thomas McNamara, Federico Bravo, and Mehdi Ballouchy that are ready to play for Vieira.
Now, pulling off trades is not easy, but, frankly, it is time for sporting director Claudio Reyna to earn his check. Reyna was hired with NYCFC because of connections to parent club, Manchester City, but also because of his knowledge of the MLS landscape. Yet so far he has failed to assemble a balanced roster capable of producing results on a consistent basis.
Reyna needs to make something happen, as continuing to stay stagnant will only dig a deeper hole for NYCFC to have to get itself out of. There is still time to salvage the season, make a run at the playoffs, and reward the New York City fanbase that continues to religiously turn out to games despite the string of lackluster performances and results.
The tools are there in Diskerud and Poku to make a trade. NYCFC just needs to be willing to make a tough decision for the better of its future.