Khiry Shelton has had varying degrees of success in his three years with New York City FC. He was their first MLS Superdraft pick ever and has always possessed athleticism, but his technical ability is lacking. He never had time to develop in USL/NASL as his coaches have prioritized training with the first team over game time. He has also struggled to find a position at this level. Patrick Viera and Jason Kreis both tried moving him between center forward and winger and saw mixed results.
Let’s examine Shelton’s three years with NYCFC. We’ll focus on his offense and distribution because his defensive contribution doesn’t significantly affect his playing time.
The trend of most of Shelton’s offensive production is shaped like a bell curve. He started off decently in 2015, peaked in 2016, and crashed in 2017. A big cause for this crash was a significant decrease in playing time, playing just a little more than 500 minutes. He also didn’t register an assist this year.
Another big issue for Shelton this season was his failure to make an impact off the bench. Last season, he was frequently an impact sub, using his athleticism to tear apart tired defenses. This season, his impact off the bench has been minimal.
Unlike Shelton’s offensive production, his distribution has actually improved. His overall pass success, aerial duel success, crosses completed, and advanced passes (crosses plus long balls) completed per 90 minutes have all increased over the three years. This improvement shows hope for Shelton not being a lost cause. It should — in theory — allow him to get more goals and assists. Distribution leads to goals.
The Khiry Shelton project isn’t dead just yet, as his distribution continues to improve. Hopefully, this year was just a slump and he will return to his 2016 form next season. But at 24 years old, he is getting to the point when players start to hit their prime. He needs to be getting more playing time, as he has accrued about 2500 minutes over the three years. His situation would be a lot simpler if NYCFC had a second team close by that he could play with when not on the primary squad.
Shelton just needs minutes. He has the potential to be a good player, but only time will tell.
What do you think? Should NYCFC keep Khiry Shelton or is it time to move on? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.