How One Coach Is Pumping Up His Brand-New League Team

Photo Before John McCarthy met his first-ever Bundesliga player (William Beckford) in a UEFA Champions League game at MetLife Stadium last week, the newcomer to Major League Soccer was under the impression that the…

How One Coach Is Pumping Up His Brand-New League Team

Photo

Before John McCarthy met his first-ever Bundesliga player (William Beckford) in a UEFA Champions League game at MetLife Stadium last week, the newcomer to Major League Soccer was under the impression that the City FC boss could practice in stadiums for about two hours a day.

It sounds like a lot.

“I found out that he practices in stadiums for three hours a day,” Mr. McCarthy said. “That gave me the idea to come work out more.”

The coach, who will be at Yankee Stadium on Sunday as New York City FC faces the New England Revolution in the MLS Cup, said it is this emphasis on meticulous preparation that made his team — and the city, which will host the MLS Cup for the first time — the frontrunner to capture the title.

“We have two games, six days to go,” Mr. McCarthy said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “This is a team with three days of downtime, so that makes it possible to do that. We’re very prepared.”

Thus far, Mr. McCarthy has been able to get the most out of his team by anticipating the needs of those around him.

His staff and his players, accustomed to working out at MetLife Stadium, understand the conditioning necessary to prepare for the combination of workouts needed in four days, he said.

“You don’t have seven- or eight-hour sessions,” he said. “They can train for 80 minutes and get some rest in between.”

“This is what MLS demanded,” he added. “If MLS really wants a team that can do things at 100 miles an hour, then they needed the environment I work in.”

Teams, under Mr. McCarthy, will spend more than five hours together, getting three hours of fitness training, two hours of game simulation, plus an hour of video work.

Players will work at City FC’s turf, located on the perimeter of the complex that houses the training facility, while the administrative staff will be scattered between training grounds. The logistics and the pace are all geared toward giving the club a competitive advantage in each game.

The strength of the preparation also creates an advantage on the field, Mr. McCarthy said. New York City FC not only expected to play like a European squad, it wanted its players to do the same, he said.

In more than 50 European games, the club has helped develop players like David Villa, who scored twice against Manchester City in the Champions League on Nov. 12, and Will Johnson, who has contributed several goals this season. Both are key to the club’s success.

“These guys will play in the European league next year,” Mr. McCarthy said. “At least four or five of them. So we have a huge advantage with these guys, and we are giving them the opportunity to train like they do against professional opposition.”

Now that Mr. McCarthy has his starting lineup set, the team now turns its attention to the Predocessors’ Cup, sponsored by Johnnie Walker Black Label. The club set a goal to bring the cup — the winner gets a $1 million bonus in 2018 — back to New York City for the first time in franchise history.

“You can’t prepare for something like this,” Mr. McCarthy said. “You can’t predict that this is going to happen, that this is going to be great. You can’t over-prepare, because that is just making sure that you’re overmatched when it happens.”

“But you can be over-prepared and look lazy, and that is not good,” he added. “We’re here to win this thing. It is the first time for New York City. This is a perfect opportunity for us to bring home the trophy.”

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