New York City FC made a big splash in 2015 with the signings of European stars David Villa, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo.
But in its fourth season, NYCFC has
climbed to the top of MLS with a team of no-name players it has cobbled together from around the world.
It improved to 5-0-1 with a 4-0 win over struggling Real Salt Lake on Thursday
night, fielding a starting lineup with players from 11 different countries, only two of them (American keeper Sean Johnson and Costa Rican Ronald Matarrita) with more than two years of
Lampard and Pirlo are gone. But even with
Villa sidelined for the last four games, NYCFC continues to roll, scoring at least two goals in every game.
Berget, Libyan youth internationalIsmael Tajouri-Shradi and ParaguayanJesus Medina -- all
first-year players -- have started the last three games up front with Villa sidelined and Rodney Wallace relegated to the bench. Jack Harrison, the third member of the NYCFC frontline in
2017, was sold to Manchester City in January.
Medina was a Young Designated Player signing from Libertad in his native Paraguay, and Tajouri-Shradi came on a
transfer from Austria Wien. But Berget came as a free agent from Swedish champion Malmo along with new right back Anton Tinnerholm.
Three of the four goals against RSL came
from first-year players -- Tajouri-Shradi, who has scored four goals in four starts, Berget, who scored his first goal, and Ghanaian Ebenezer Ofori, who is on loan from Germany's VfB
NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira was pleased for Berget, who missed much of preseason with a quad injury and then the flu.
he’s been very unlucky since he arrived with us with injuries," said Vieira, "but he’s been working hard. He deserved that goal and I’m really pleased. Even if he is not 100 percent
fit, I like the way he’s working for the team. I like the way he’s thinking about the team before thinking about himself. He deserved the goal. I’m really happy for him
Johnson, the only starter with more than three years of MLS experience, says NYCFC has been able to build momentum with each passing week.
"We have a group of players that are very driven, very focused, very hungry," he said. "I think hungry is the best word to describe this group. Every game, we know we have to go in and put on a
performance. When we get a result, we analyze it -- both the good and bad. We work on things throughout the week and then our focus shifts to the next game."