NEW YORK — Things may have gone south in a major way for New York City FC during the second half of 2018, but Domenec Torrent does not feel any pressure to have to get results at the start of this season because of that.
Torrent is entering his first full season as NYCFC head coach, and how he fares is a topic of much interest given how poorly things went under his command in 2018. NYCFC started strongly a year ago, but could not maintain that form following the midseason managerial switch that saw Torrent replace Patrick Vieira, who left to coach French side Nice.
NYCFC backed its way into the playoffs, winning just thrice during the final three months of the campaign, before falling to eventual champion Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Club supporters were and have been very critical of the Spaniard and his tactics because of the lack of results, but Torrent said he does not feel any heat as he guides NYCFC into 2019.
“Pressure, after the teams I’ve been at?” Torrent told SBI. “If you feel pressure, you have to go home. You need to be happy being where you’re at, which is New York, and I know how this all works. When you win you’re considered good and when you don’t win you’re not. The fans don’t see if you play well or if you don’t. That’s how it is.
“Pressure? No. I have a responsibility, which is a different story. I have a responsibility to win for our fans, for our team, to do the best we can. Given that, the coach can only pick the players that do things in the best possible manner, but in soccer the other team plays, too. The other team can play well, too.”
What certainly is helping Torrent feel at ease is that he has full support from Claudio Reyna, NYCFC’s director of football operations. Reyna admitted there was frustration for all parties involved regarding the dip in form during the second half of 2018, but thinks a major ingredient in that was Torrent’s transition to the league and to life in the United States.
With that Torrent now more settled in, Reyna is confident things will pick up.
“I think Dome working from the beginning is only going to be good for him,” Reyna told SBI. “You could see already that he’s more comfortable with the players and everything. I’ve said it a few times, the transition was really challenging for everybody, with the rumors, then it happening, and then the timing of it, and then the coaching staff little by little sort of coming over and getting their visas.
“It was really difficult and so it was managed well and it’s not something that often that it happens, that a coach leaves for an opportunity and another coach comes in. We’re excited, the coaching staff is working really hard to prepare for the team, and I feel really good about the group.”
Questions will linger as to whether NYCFC, which became younger over the offseason, will be able to remain amongst the east’s best without departed star striker David Villa. Reyna, however, believes the club has what it takes.
“The expectations are all the same,” said Reyna. “The standards are high. A group of players that are motivated to get back and be amongst the top teams in MLS in the regular season.”
NYCFC did not get off to the greatest start to the 2019 season, though. The club surrendered a 2-0 lead on the road to Orlando City en route to settling for a 2-2 draw last week
Up next is the home opener on Sunday against D.C. United, a game that Torrent said NYCFC “must win” on Friday despite insisting he does not feel any pressure from the outside.
“Pressure is not the appropriate word,” said Torrent. “I feel a responsibility, for the fans and because I want to do things well and because I want them to be happy and because I want my players to win. But that’s not pressure. At my age and after everything I’ve been through at the clubs I’ve been at, if I have to have pressure here in New York then I have a problem.”