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For NYCFC, superior scouting has produced surprisingly valuable contributors

Several players who were passed on by other teams have made a real impact this year in the Five Boroughs.

MLS: New York City FC at New York Red Bulls Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

2015 season: NYCFC sign R.J. Allen, a coach with youth affiliate Staten Island United.

2016 offseason: They acquire Ethan White for a 4th round pick from the Philadelphia Union and sign Mikey Lopez off waivers.

2017 offseason: They sign Ben Sweat, who was let go by his MLS and NASL clubs, and John Stertzer, who was unwanted in Salt Lake City.

These players truly came from far and wide, but they all had one thing in common— their former teams didn’t feel they brought sufficient value. Based on this year’s results, credit is due to the NYCFC staff for rating these unheralded players.

I decided to see just how valuable this group of five has been. As it turns out, they have provided some significant contributions to the team, especially at the fullback positions.


NYCFC under the radar contributors on offense

On the attack, most of the production is due to the fullbacks’ playmaking. Ideally, one would like to see Stertzer contribute more, but he hasn’t really played enough minutes to be of use. Still, with Hudson River Derby hero Ben Sweat leading the way, 27% of assists coming from these players is impressive.


NYCFC under the radar contributors on defense

As expected, due to the personnel in this category, this group really shines at the back, contributing to about one fifth of the team’s total defensive actions. Given NYCFC’s improvements in 2017 when it comes to conceding goals, these players deserve a share of the praise.


NYCFC under the radar contributors in passing

Here again, this group succeeds, particularly in crossing the ball. It’s worth noting Mikey Lopez’s 90% overall pass success and 2.8 APC/game: this numbers highlight the central midfielder’s his ability to play out of the back and link the offense and defense, as well as why Patrick Vieira thought to give him a run-out at right fullback this summer.

Final Thoughts

Entering the year, if I told you NYCFC have one of the best left backs in the league, you would have agreed that Ronald Matarrita is good. But if I told you that man would be Ben Sweat, most recently of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, you would have laughed at me. Sweat has been invaluable this season, filling in for Matarrita. He is not only filling in, but excelling. He is currently second in assists for defenders, with six.

Let’s not forget to mention Ethan White and R.J. Allen’s solid committee at right back, with Allen also filling in at left back in a pinch. Finally, Mikey Lopez has helped patrol the midfield when one of our starters is absent, and John Stertzer has provided veteran experience off the bench. Clearly, the scouts know what they are doing.

What do you think? How have these players fared? Who do you want to see NYCFC sign under the radar next year?