As fans found out Friday afternoon, New York City FC will be well represented at this summer’s MLS All-Star Game. Club talisman David Villa and midfield enforcer Alex Ring were selected by Atlanta United (and all-star team) head coach Tata Martino as the club’s two representatives for the league’s star-studded clash with Juventus. Villa and Ring’s selections are well deserved considering the seasons they’ve had so far, but there’s another player that should be joining the pair in Atlanta: Maxi Morález.
Anyone who has watched the Boys in Blue play can attest to the notion that Morález has been the club’s primary offensive spark and one of the league’s most dangerous playmakers this season. New York’s diminutive midfielder currently has six goals to his name and is tied for third on the MLS assists leaderboard with seven. While that kind of production is nothing to sneeze at, it’s advanced analytics that appropriately illustrate how deserving he is of a spot in this summer’s game.
Morález has been one of the league’s best distributors and has been created an abundance of chances for NYCFC this season. As of this writing, the Argentina international stands firmly in the top five among qualified players* in total key passes** (46) and key passes per game (2.9), ranking behind Federico Higuaín, Diego Fagundez, Albert Rusnák and Mauro Díaz (all of whom also didn’t make the all-star cut, strangely enough).
While his creativity and production in the attacking phase of the game is among the game’s elite, the defensive aspect of the Argentinian’s game is surprisingly strong. Despite his small stature, Morález has also been a top contributor on the defensive side of the ball. The 31-year-old playmaker currently ranks within the top 15 in successful tackles per game (2.7) and within the top 10 in total tackles (43) made among all qualified midfield players.
All that being said, there’s a pretty strong case against Maxi’s all-star snub, but unfortunately, he was up against some stiff competition for a midfield spot on the all-star roster. After all, beating out good players with name recognition like Diego Valeri, Ignacio Piatti and Miguel Almirón for a spot on the squad is no small task. Yet, one could argue that he deserves a spot over Jonathan dos Santos and Ezequiel Barco.
That’s not to knock either of those two, though. Both dos Santos and Barco are talented players that have done plenty to stand out on their teams, but they haven’t played as many games or produced as much as Morález has this season.
Yet, what’s done is done. The roster is already set, but I’m sure Morález doesn’t mind that much. After all, taking home an MLS Cup or Supporters’ Shield would be much more satisfying to both Maxi and the entire fanbase.