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New York City F.C Season Preview

New York City F.C Season Preview and a look at what to expect for the Bronx blues. It has not been the best offseason for New York fans, seeing most of their long-term players leave the club. However, the team still has a young squad that can continue to compete in the MLS.


Players OUT

Sean Johnson-Toronto F.C

Johnson’s been in New York since 2017 and totaled 57 clean sheets in 195 appearances. He led the team to their first MLS Cup after making two critical saves during penalty kicks, awarding him finals MVP. Johnson was a free agent at the end of the 2022 season and failed to produce a contract with New York. Therefore, he signed a two-year deal with rivals Toronto F.C. Because of New York, Johnson has earned call-ups to the USMNT and made the trip to Qatar as Matt Turner’s backup.


Maxi Morales- Racing Club de Avellaneda

Morales will do down as one of the greatest players to play for New York, delivering 26 goals and 69 assists over 162 appearances, including an MLS and Campeones Cup. He was also one of the most skillful midfielders in the MLS in recent times, creating a total of 534 chances and logging in 926 crosses in six seasons. The void Morales leaves will be huge, losing a player with that much caliber and skill.


Alexander Callens- Girona

The man most famous for scoring the last penalty kick that secured the MLS Cup for the team, Callens transitioned to one of the most vital players on the club since his arrival in 2017. He spent time playing both center and left back and totaled 12 goals and 660 clearances in 179 appearances with the club. Callens’ success in the MLS earned him a call-up back to the Peru national team. He now joins former New York striker Valentin Castellanos in Spain after agreeing to a two-and-a-half-year contract.


Heber- Seattle Sounders

Heber joined the club in 2019 and made an instant impact, becoming the team’s top scorer with 15 goals. However, a torn ACL saw him miss time, and ended up losing his starting role to Castellanos. Nevertheless, the Brazilian worked on building form back, totaling 10 goals in 2022 since the departure of Castellanos. He will move to Seattle to join the club on a non-international contract with an option for 2024.


Nicolas Acevedo- Esporte Clube Bahia

The young Brazilian made his way to the starting XI in 2022 after proving his strength in the midfield. He played as a defensive midfielder, totaling 125 tackles in 72 appearances. The void he leaves is bigger than expected, with Keaton Parks now taking full responsibility of the midfield. Acevedo joins Esporte Clube Bahia on loan until the end of 2023.


Anton Tinnerholn- Malmo

The Swedish defender played a huge role in helping New York lift the MLS Cup in 2021, mending the right-back position for the team. In 129 appearances with the team, he has totaled nine goals, 21 assists, 296 crosses, and 200 made tackles. However, 2022 did not suit him well, suffering from several injuries that limited his time on the field. Because his contract with New York ended, he will return to Sweden to join Malmo.


Santiago Rodriguez- Torque*

Rodriguez instantly became a fan favorite in New York while making an enormous difference in the midfield since his arrival. Last season he recorded 14 assists, which led the league with four goals on top of that. He returned to Torque with his loan ending, however there are rumors circulating that he agreed to terms with New York on a contract deal. The team has not confirmed his return thus far with the first match of the season just days away. It will be a huge plus if Rodriguez stays so he can continue to play for the team as one of the most underrated midfielders in the MLS.


Players IN

Braian Cufre- Mallorca

Cufre agreed on a loan from Spain to the Big Apple for one season. He struggled with playing time with Mallorca, only appearing in five matches in La Liga. However, the Argentinian will bring experience to the club and will take over the voided outside back role left by Tinnerholn.


Matt Freese- Philadelphia Union

Freese spent four seasons in Philadelphia as Andre Blake’s backup, barely getting any playing time in the league. However, learning from MLS’s best goalkeeper, Freese is expected to fill the vacant goalkeeping spot and fill in the shoes left by Sean Johnson. He only featured in 14 games with the Union, he recorded one clean sheet while allowing 17 goals.


Mitija Llenic- NK Domzale

New York signed the young Slovenian on a three-year deal with the first team. He is expected to fight for a starting role as outside back with Cufre after the departure of Tinnerholn. The 18-year-old has already made five appearances with the Slovenian U-21’s, including in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualification.


Jose “Tony Alfaro- D.C United

One of their best signings in the offseason, Alfaro will join New York as Callens’ replacement as the center back. He spent two seasons playing for D.C United with 110 clearances in two seasons. The Mexican will bring experience and depth to the back line. He is expected to line up with Maxime Chanot in what can be one of the hardest defensive lines in the MLS.


Players Resigning/Returning from Loan

James Sands- Rangers F.C*

Though not confirmed, there is a chance that the American international will return to New York after his loan from Scottish Side Rangers F.C. He spent five seasons with the club and was a big part of the MLS-winning squad in 2021. His performance with New York also led him to a few appearances with the USMNT.


Justin Haak

Haak was on his way to free agency, until agreeing to a two-year deal with an option for 2026 with New York. He has been with the team since 2019, but got his most starts last season with 17 appearances in the defense. With Callens gone, he will have a bigger role in the club in hopes to grow into a regular starter in the MLS.


Kevin O’Toole

O’Toole exercised his club option for 2023, keeping him in the Big Apple for another year. He has had a very limited role since his arrival to the team last season, only appearing in six matches thus far. He will look to improve and fight for a spot in the starting XI for the team this season.


Tayvon Gray

The Bronx native signed a contract extension with New York through 2025, with an option for 2026. He has become a very important piece to the back line of New York, most famously starting in the MLS Finals in 2021 at the age of 19. The defender will likely become the starting right back for New York, especially with Callens and Tinnerholn gone this season.


Head Coach

Nick Cushings has officially been named the head coach of New York after his run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. He took over for Ronny Deila after his sudden move to Belgium mid-season. Despite losing the head coach, their top scorer, and dealing with several injuries, Cushings managed to lead his team back to the playoffs.

He also led New York to a Campeones Cup win, their first international cup trophy in their franchise. Cushing’s has experience coaching at the high level, having been an academy coach for the Manchester City youth teams and the Manchester City Women’s side.


Season Preview Synopsis

New York will now turn to Talles Magno to deliver goals for the team. He spent most of his time playing in the wings, however moved to the forward spot after the departure of Castellanos. Magno is one of the league’s great young talents with very big shoes to fill this season. Last season he recorded eight goals and eight assists in 35 appearances.

The new caption of the club will likely be Maxime Chanot. The defender has been with the club since 2017 and will anchor the back line around him, who’re very much inexperienced in playing with the club. Nonetheless, the defender has shown his leadership in the years with the squad and will look to take on more responsibilities and hopefully look to stay healthier in 2023.

Overall, New York is still to be one of the best teams in the East. Despite all the players they lost, the boys in blue will have a mixture of young talent and experienced players that will continue to be a threat to other teams in the league. The additions of Cufre and Alfaro fill the void left by Callens and Tinnerholn, who will bring experience playing at the top level. Pereria will continue to play for the team, who had a decent 2022 season, along with Gray and Haak. Keaton Parks looks to keep healthy after an injury-plagued season in 2022.


Season Preview Projected Standings

East: 4th place (currently listed 5th in the latest MLS Preseason rankings)


Season Preview Projected Starting XI

Goalkeeper- Matt Freese

Left Back- Braian Cufre

Center Back- Jose Alfaro

Center Back- Maxime Chanot

Right Back- Tayvon Gray

Defensive Center Back- Malte Amundsen

Defensive Center Back- Keaton Parks

Left Midfielder- Thiago

Center Midfielder- Justin Haak

Right Midfielder- Gabriel Pereria

Forward- Talles Magno

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