New York City FC saw a handful of players leave its ranks in recent months for various reasons, some tougher to cope with than others.
Two-year captain Alex Ring and fullback Ronald Matarrita departed in deals with other MLS clubs. Reserve winger Gary Mackay-Steven returned home to Scotland. Homegrown fullback Joe Scally left for the German Bundesliga with just a few appearances to his name. Plus, Alexandru Mitrita remains on loan in Saudi Arabia, while Héber continues rehabbing a knee injury that will keep him out until summer.
The most painful part, however, might be that most of those vacancies have yet to be filled. As the club begins its preseason camp this week in Orlando, Florida, head coach Ronny Deila conceded Wednesday that his side as constructed is not deep enough to be successful this season.
"We have a very young squad down here now and the depth in this squad is not good enough to do something in MLS," Deila said. "We need more quality players in."
To replace Matarrita, NYCFC added Danish defender Malte Amundsen from Vejle Boldklub in his native country, although Deila said he still is awaiting a visa. The club also signed goalkeeper Cody Mizell from USL side New Mexico United with former backup Brad Stuver leaving for Austin FC.
Otherwise, NYCFC and club sporting director David Lee mostly have stayed put.
"The players we have here are really good, and they have a lot of experience from the club and also from the league and done well. We have players that have a lot of potential to develop even more," Deila said. "And we have the opportunity now to sign good players to come in to give the team more depth and a bit more quality."
To fill out the squad for camp, NYCFC brought along a series of academy players and unsigned draft picks as Deila acknowledged the difficulty in conducting normal business during such abnormal times.
"It's been a very, very tough year when it comes to signings and getting things done. But we want to sign players, of course, we feel that we, we need to add more quality into the team, more depth as well. So, we are working really hard, everybody, to get that done," Deila said. "We have Malte coming, but again, it's very hard to get them into the country with getting a visa and all these things, so hopefully he will be arriving before the season starts, but you never know where these things."
The coach, however, expects this conversation to change before NYCFC’s season begins April 17 at DC United, as well as in the months after.
"We are getting closer, I think you’re going to see some signings before the season starts, and also I think there’ll be a couple in the summer, maybe, but we don’t know yet," Deila said. "But I hope we get as many as possible now before the season starts."
Deila said the club could use some more options on the left side of the field, as well as backups to striker Valentín Castellanos and attacking midfielder Maxi Moralez. Ultimately, filling these vacancies falls on Lee, but Deila said he remains involved in the process.
"David and me work really good together, and of course he is the main guy who deals with all the scouts and agents and all these things so I can focus on the football things, but he really, really works night and day to get this right, and of course we talk together," Deila said. "He's not coming in with any players that I haven't seen or, or that we do not agree on. Of course we have different opinions sometimes about players. But if you take 50 people and ask for the view of a player, we will get 50 different answers as well. So, it's about the feeling, and when we feel that we agree on things, then we try to do it."