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Torrent out as NYCFC head coach

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Despite a banner year for New York City FC, the club will be looking for a new coach this offseason.

NYCFC made it official on Friday, announcing that it had mutually agreed to part ways with head coach Dome Torrent after one and a half seasons in charge. The Spaniard took over for Patrick Vieira in June 2018 and led NYCFC to a third-place finish in the eastern conference in his first year.

In 2019, Torrent guided NYCFC, without David Villa, to first place in the Eastern Conference and second in all of MLS in the regular season. However, the team was bounced by Toronto FC in the MLS Cup playoffs for the third straight year in the conference semifinals page.

Its a big blow for NYCFC to have to find another coach and to lose a talented tactician in Torrent. The 57-year-old built a successful team, even with the limitations of MLS roster regulations and the Yankee Stadium field conditions. But he openly complained about not being able to spend more and sign better players after the playoff defeat at home against Toronto FC, and it may have just been time for him to move back to Europe.

For NYCFC, with Atlanta United, the Philadelphia Union and evening possibly the New England Revolution on its heels, the club will have to nail this coaching hire.

Oscar Pareja might be available, depending on how Xolos de Tijuana finish the Apertura season in Liga MX, or perhaps NYCFC could tempt Giovanni Savarese back to New York from Portland.

Jose Mourinho seems about as unlikely as anything, but he is available, after all. One thing is for sure. Like the hire of Torrent, who had been an assistant for Pep Guardiola at Manchester City beforehand and Vieira before Torrent, we can expect the City Football Group to dig into its scouting and coaching network to unearth the next coach.

Whether that means Mikel Arteta or Paul Harsley (Current Man City reserves coach) will be the next NYCFC coach remains to be seen.

Benfica loanee Parks readies for playoffs with NYCFC

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Keaton Parks plays the kind of hard-to-quantify midfield role that sends both stat nerds and eye test takers to a very good place.

Barely 22, the New York City FC midfielder doesn’t stand out in any one particular area. Since arriving on loan from Benfica, the American shuttler (of sorts) ranks near the top of the club rankings in pass percentage and aerials won while chipping in tackles and successful dribbles.

[ MORE: PST talks public pitches, youth development with NYCFC director Reyna ]

He’s averaging near one key pass per game but has just a goal and an assist, due more to his responsibility in Dome Torrent’s system than a particular skill set (He has eight goals and seven assists across two-plus seasons between Varzim and Benfica B).

“In the midfield it really helps to play both sides of the ball,” Parks told ProSoccerTalk. “I take pride in doing that, and I love to make a tackle as much as getting in the attack and assisting or scoring goals. It doesn’t bother me that I’m not scoring or making all of the assists. I like to be the solid player who keeps the balance on the team.”

(Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images)

Parks has been an enigma to American soccer fans for some time in that he’s been in a celebrated club in Benfica but playing in a developmental role that’s near impossible to track without single-minded dedication to Portuguese football (Dramatic? Sure, but you try to catch every Liga Pro game).

But in moving to New York City FC to play under Dome Torrent, he’s had an easier transition than most due to his upbringing with Benfica, which annually ranks amongst the top possession teams in Portugal. Torrent, of course, left his last managerial gig at Girona in Spain to spent a decade-plus on Pep Guardiola‘s staff at Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Manchester City.

“Dome likes to play a possession style, a confident style,” Parks said. “I still have to fight for my spot on the team but the playing style I was used to right away.

“You can see the experience Dome has, and he mirrors a little bit of what Pep does, so it’s been amazing to be able to learn from him and see the experiences of the players he’s been able to coach in his career.”

NYCFC begins its playoff run on Wednesday against Toronto FC at Citi Field in Queens, and Parks says he’s feeling better after missing three matches with injury.

And while he’s focused on the playoffs — “We want to win the Cup and be at the top” — there is a question of what’s next for him, still on the books at a perennial UEFA Champions League club but very important with a CONCACAF Champions League club.

[ MORE: MLS Playoffs preview/predictions ]

“I’m just going to be looking forward to whatever club I’m at next, whether here or back at Benfica or wherever I am and also with the U-23s going into Tokyo next summer.”

He’ll, in theory, be an imperative part to Jason Kreis, ironically a former NYCFC man himself, and the Yanks bid for a first Olympic run in three cycles. The team should be powerful, and Parks is happy.

“I’m definitely excited,” he said. “We have so much talent on the team with guys playing first division all over the world. I believe we can make a run all the way to these Olympics.”
NYCFC and Toronto FC kick off 7 p.m. ET Wednesday at Citi Field.

NYCFC’s Mitrita scores 2nd stunner of international break

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New York City FC star Alexandru Mitrita’s very good club summer is folding into a very decent international tenure, at least individually.

Mitrita scored again on Tuesday, zipping onto your screen to steal the ball just inside half before dancing toward the 18 and lashing an opening goal for Romania in EURO 2020 qualification against Norway on Tuesday.

[ MORE: EURO qualifying wrap ]

Unfortunately, the Romanians would concede an equalizer to Norway and cost itself prime positioning in the race for a place in the tournament, but it was quite a bit of work from Mitrita.

It was only a slight downgrade from his Friday beauty.

Mitrita had not scored in his first seven caps for Romania and didn’t get called over the summer as he worked into the frame as one of NYCFC’s Designated Players.

Safe to say things have progressed nicely.

2019 MLS Cup playoffs bracket in full

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With Decision Day in the rear view mirror, the 2019 MLS Cup playoffs bracket is all set.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Round 1 action starts on October 19-20, following the international break. Just days later, first seeds NYCFC and LAFC join the playoffs as the Conference Semifinals take place.

On October 29-30, the Conference Finals will be played, which will decide what two teams will feature in the 2019 MLS Cup final on November 10.

Below is the MLS playoff bracket in full. Who will go the farthest?

New England secures MLS playoff spot with win over leaders NYCFC

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The New England Revolution locked in the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by surprising leaders NYCFC 2-0 at home on Sunday evening.

With the game scoreless at the break – largely thanks to Matt Turner who did well to keep out chances from Alexandru Mitrita and Gary Mackay-Steven. Teal Bunbury broke the deadlock past the hour mark with an awkward finish to cap off a pacey counter-attack.

The most impressive moment sealed the game in the 89th minute as Gustavo Bou broke down the right and somehow chipped Sean Johnson from a long way out. It was a fabulous effort deserving of a full three points and a playoff spot.

Despite the loss, NYCFC still owns the number one seed, which they clinched on Wednesday with an emphatic 4-1 win over Atlanta United. Still, it isn’t exactly the way the Eastern Conference leaders want to head into the playoffs, and they have one more chance to turn things around as they take on the Philadelphia Union next weekend on the road. For New England, they head to Atlanta United in a major test of their playoff viability, still with the chance to push up the seeding list as fifth place is still theoretically attainable.