NEW YORK, NY — For the next four-to-six weeks, NYCFC will be without star left-back Ronald Matarrita as the Costa Rican international suffered an ankle injury this week during training. After his stellar performance last Friday against the Union, losing Matarrita is even more of a problem as his attacking ability and good one-on-one defending will be missed by Vieira.
With Matarrita now out of the picture, what will happen to the NYCFC backline? Patrick Vieira has messed around with formations this season as both the 3-4-3 and the 4-3-3 have made an appearance. With the 4-3-3, the formation more common for NYCFC, Vieira lacks a consistent right-back and now a left-back.
For Vieira, this injury now brings about a crucial next few weeks for the French manager. NYCFC needs to gain ground in the Eastern Conference table and cannot afford to have a whole two months worth of poor performances. With this dilemma currently facing him, what should Patrick Vieira do?
With no proven centre-back on the bench (Brilliant has not been stellar this season so far,) Vieira should maintain the 4-3-3 and simply find a replacement for Matarrita. Here are some options that Vieira can take:
- Move Rodney Wallace to left-back and bring in Tommy McNamara to play at left-wing.
- Additionally, McNamara could move into the midfield, and Maxi Moralez could shift out to left-wing.
- Bring in Ben Sweat or Kwame Awuah to play at left-back.
- Sweat would be a more direct swap at left-back, but the left-footed Awuah could be a possible move as well despite Awuah being a midfielder.
- RJ Allen makes a comeback?
- Allen could be brought back into the first team (hasn’t seen action since the season opener.) However, Allen doesn’t seem like the most likely option in the team and would be more liable to be moved back to right-back than at left-back.
What is the best choice? Only time will tell who is the best option at left-back and that is the reality of this situation. My best guess is that Vieira will move Wallace to left-back and insert McNamara up at left-wing, as the pride of West Nyack has shown promise in his recent substitute appearances and seems to have earned the chance to start.
But, again, I am not Patrick Vieira but just an avid reporter.
What is certain though is that Patrick Vieira will experiment to find the best option. Hopefully, for NYCFC, Vieira’s experimentation with the team doesn’t take long, and a viable option at left-back can fill the missing shoes of NYCFC best defender from a year ago.