The Jonathan Lewis era in New York officially came to an end this week when Lewis was traded to the Colorado Rapids for $650,000 in target allocation money (TAM), with the potential to add another $100,000 in TAM if Lewis hits some incentives and an additional international roster spot in 2020.
It was tough sledding for Lewis ever since he arrived here in January 2017 after being drafted by NYCFC 3rd overall where City traded up with the Chicago Fire giving up $250,000 of general allocation money (GAM) in the process. From a business standpoint, City actually flipped Lewis for more than twice of what they initially invested in him, and that TAM can go a long way to add more pieces to make the team even stronger than they already are. That is yet to be determined as this trade was completed just before the MLS Primary Transfer window ended on May 7th, City won’t be able to make any transfers until the secondary transfer window opens in the summer.
City has splurged in the past during the summer transfer window with additions such as Andrea Pirlo, Maxime Chanot, and Taty Castellanos, and with no true “star power” in the squad currently, it’s reasonable to assume that Claudio Reyna would like to make a big splash addition.
Lewis is a dynamic winger with a lot of spark and spunk and youth but under both Patrick Vieira and Domenec Torrent he struggled to crack the starting XI during his entire run with the Pigeons, with only a handful of starts in two-plus seasons here, and many supporters lamented that Lewis should’ve received more starts and minutes during his time here. He mostly made his mark coming off the bench in the second half of games as a “super sub” scoring big game-winning goals in the process. His beautiful strike that went bar down off the crossbar and in during a match against the Los Angeles Galaxy in a victory was particularity memorable and for a player that only appeared in limited fashion, he did score some very important goals in his tenure here.
Reports came out after the trade was completed that Lewis had actually requested a trade and for Lewis that makes all the sense in the world. He’s in his early 20s, a pivotal time in a soccer player’s career in terms of his overall development and he needs to play as much as possible to reach his maximum potential, which is very high from limited playing time. This move is a big opportunity for Lewis where he should be an immediate starter on Colorado’s left wing on a team that is bereft of offensive talent, giving Lewis a big chance to show the world what he can do. A good run of form from Lewis can really skyrocket his career into an upward trajectory that could include time playing for the U.S. National Team.
This trade makes all the sense in the world for the club in their own right as well, given the logjam of wingers in the squad already and the significant return in TAM they got from Colorado. During both coaches tenure, they never seemed to hold Lewis in a high standard and that was clear with the lack of playing time and starts. Wingers such as Jesus Medina, Ismael Tajorui-Shradi and Alexandru Mitriță have always passed Lewis by, leaving Lewis as a backup option to play when other people are hurt, or to come off the bench in a very limited role. The TAM from Colorado is a very significant amount of money for Claudio Reyna to work with this summer and it is very interesting to see what Reyna does with it in the future. TAM was used to acquire pivotal members of the team such as captain Alexander Ring, Anton Tinnerholm, and their latest acquisition Héber. If City adds another big player this summer to help their playoff push, then this trade will be worth it and then some.
This summer’s big addition for the boys in blue might be Colombian striker Radamel Falcao, as suggested from twitter user Kelvin Loyola, who stated that “NYCFC may wheel and deal but the end result could have Falcao in NYC come July and after Copa America”. Falcao is currently playing for League One French side AS Monaco, but has a very decorated career playing for other big clubs such as River Plate, Atlético Madrid, and even short spells with Manchester United and Chelsea. Loyola cited a Colombian reporter as his source and there seems to be some smoke in this rumor, a lot can happen in the coming months but if this has any semblance of legitimacy then City should jump at the opportunity to bring Falcao into the fold. Falcao has scored 197 goals in 359 club appearances and for Columbia he has scored 33 goals in 83 appearances, he would bring a pedigree to the club that has been missing since David Villa departed in the winter.
Jesus Medina would have to be moved from the club in the summer to complete this process, since he holds one of the three Designated Player spots on the roster and has been a massive disappointment in his time here so far, and any financial commitment to Falcao would surely require him to be a DP. Unless they somehow finagled a deal where he was purchased with the newly acquired TAM and then they figured out a permanent solution in the off season this winter, similar to what the Galaxy did last year with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The MLS salary rules are unnecessarily complicated and probably harmful to the league’s growth in general, but those are the rules every team has to work with and if Falcao is truly a viable option to come here, then Claudio Reyna must do everything in his power to get him to the Bronx.
A two striker system with Falcao and Héber feeding off of each other with other attackers in the fold like Tajouri-Shradi and Mitriță would be a devastatingly potent attack, especially featuring the service of Maxi Moralez from the midfield. The formation would have to be worked out and it would be difficult to get everyone on the field at the same time, but that offense would instantly put NYCFC in the MLS Cup conversation.
The biggest issue off the pitch for NYCFC and their supporters has been the lack of a soccer-specific stadium or even any news on a potential stadium since the club was formed in 2013. Yankee Stadium was initially proposed as a temporary home while a stadium was being built but as of May 2019 there hasn’t been any progress towards that goal and the club has been silent on the issue besides the “we’re working on it” statements throughout the years. The dimensions of the field aren’t conducive to the best soccer and the sod covering the infield has been less than standard over the years. Scheduling conflicts with the Yankees has forced City to play multiple games in short spans before and even infamously had to move a home match to Hartford, Connecticut after a Yankee game was rescheduled. The whole stadium situation is the object of ire and embarrassment for the supporters and it’s the butt of jokes for supporters of the Red Bulls and every other rival fan base in MLS.
This long nightmare might be finally on it’s way out the door however as there have been multiple reports suggesting that a resolution to this dumpster fire of a situation might be resolved after all of these years. On various forms of social media there have been reports that a deal has been tentatively agreed between NYCFC, the Yankees, NYC, New York State, and City Football Group (CFG) to build a stadium in the Bronx a half mile south of Yankee Stadium on a site owned by the GAL Manufacturing Company on 153rd St and River Ave. The reports stated that the financials are agreed to and that an official announcement could come as early as this coming June, but also mentioned that it’s not official yet and that NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio could still nuke the deal. City have had their hearts broken before on matters such as this, it’s interesting to see how much de Blasio cares about this given that it’s been reported that he will throw his hat into the ring for the 2020 Presidential Election. But there hasn’t been this much smoke in a potential stadium ever in City’s history and where there’s smoke there must be fire.
Before the season began Yankee president Randy Levine said in an interview that a stadium announcement would come this calendar year, and Claudio Reyna echoed those sentiments as well so there’s definitely some level of confidence that this can get done. Supporters are right to be skeptical as they’ve been promised stadium news in the past and it hasn’t come to fruition and the club still hasn’t spoken publicly about this new development.
The initial plan for City was to play at Yankee Stadium for the first three years of their existence while a stadium was being built, now we’re currently in year five with no ground being broken yet. Even if this goes through it would still take at least 2-3 years to build it so City would likely be at Yankee Stadium until 2023 at the earliest. But with all of the noise about this site and a stadium, there’s something here for sure and the site is very convenient for supporters. It would be adjacent to a parking garage that is already used on game days for Yankee fans and NYCFC supporters alike and it’s still very close to public transportation stations which is huge for any stadium built in the five boroughs. There is a level of excitement but cautious optimism among the fan base and most won’t believe until a shovel is put into the ground in the Bronx, but this is the closest City have been on this front in a long time.
There’s a lot of news and potential developments swirling around the club at the moment, and if half of it comes true then City will be in a very good place for years and generations to come.
Featured Image: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports