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Five NYCFC Players With Most to Gain In Shield Push

In the wake of several absences, here are a handful of players who have a golden opportunity to increase their stock

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The laundry list of players unavailable for New York City FC’s next few matches is a lengthy one. Jo Inge Berget? Injured. Jesus Medina? Same story. Furthermore, the likes of Ebenezer Ofori, Eloi Amagat, and Ronald Matarrita are all out due to suspension, with the latter’s length still up in the air. Add in the fact that both Rodney Wallace and Maxime Chanot are reportedly due for international duty, and you have a seriously depleted team.

But NYCFC have no time to worry about that. With two very key matches ahead against the likes of the Columbus Crew and the New England Revolution and the New York Red Bulls and Atlanta United not showing any signs of slowing down, the Bronx Blues will have to find a way to make due and get winning results with little margin for error.

Plus, it is important to keep in mind that behind the aforementioned unavailable players is a long list of hungry competitors looking to impress Domé Torrent. Whether it be for more minutes down the line or a shiny new deal in the offseason, these are players with absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Here are five players with the most to gain over the next few games:

Daniel Bedoya

The 24-year-old Bedoya joined NYCFC after impressing in a scrimmage while with the PDL’s Long Island Rough Riders. A former New York Red Bulls youth project, the Colombian-born midfielder is undoubtedly longing for his first-ever taste of MLS action.

Bedoya made the 18 against the Red Bulls — his former employer — last time out, though he was ultimately an unused substitute. Seeing as the midfield has gotten significantly thinner since then, I wouldn’t be surprised if he got a promotion into the first team against either the Crew or the Revs in the coming weeks.

Though starting him can potentially be a risk due to his inexperience in the American top flight, Bedoya can definitely ball if his highlight tape is anything to go by.

Tommy McNamara

MLS: New York City FC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There was a time where Tommy McNamara was an absolute treasure among NYCFC supporters. His stunning strikes from distance, his incredible work ethic, and high football IQ endeared him to the Blues faithful from the inaugural 2015 season onward. Not to mention he was born and raised in New York. I mean, of course T-Mac would become a fan favorite!

Unfortunately, despite being one of only two players to remain from that expansion squad (the other, of course, being none other than David Villa), McNamara has found himself on the outs as it pertains to his being featured in the XI since the additions of players like Ofori, Yangel Herrera, and even Amagat. But with all of three of those players currently out — in Herrera’s case, permanently — it isn’t outside the realm of possibility that former cult hero T-Mac can have a significant time in the sun, even just for old time’s sake.

Kwame Awuah

Is he a midfielder? Is he a fullback? Since being drafted late in the first round of last year’s MLS SuperDraft, Kwame Awuah is still more question marks than he is periods. Though he has featured with the first team here and there, little is known about his skillset and what he can bring to the football club.

If the young Canadian can find some minutes in NYCFC’s time of need, then maybe these questions can be answered.

Valentin Castellanos

There was an abundance of controversy regarding Castellanos’ arrival to the club via a season long long (with an option to buy) from Atletico Torque last month. Despite spending only about a week with the club, the 19-year-old Argentine started in his first-ever game with NYCFC. But despite all of that, I liked what I saw.

Though he started off shaky in the first half, Castellanos proved to be a potent offensive threat following some second half adjustments. “Taty”, as he is called by his teammates and coaches, showed a technical prowess on the left wing and was dangerous both on the dribble and while making runs. This constant pressure eventually led to him netting his first MLS goal in his first start.

Castellanos missed the Red Bulls game due to injury, but has already returned to training with the team and should be available this weekend. I have little doubt that he will start against the Crew. And should he produce the way Domé thinks he can, then both Jesus Medina and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi might have some competition for weekly starts.

Jonathan Lewis

MLS: Montreal Impact at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, we’ve already written about Lewis this week. Even so, I cannot stress enough how important these next few games are for Jonathan Lewis should Domé had been honest when saying he’d possibly start the young winger in either the Crew or Revs games, if not both.

One could absolutely make a case for Lewis having been given a start a long time ago. Rodney Wallace is still not producing, Castellanos is unproven, and Tajouri-Shradi hasn’t always been healthy. Unfortunately, the former Akron youngster has been relegated to either bench or sightseeing duty by both Patrick Vieira and Torrent this year.

Lewis must produce the goods these next few games. Not only can that increase his stock in the NYCFC organization, it can also help his chances when searching for a new club in the future should he get sick of his backup role in the Bronx. Lewis is a good player, and he deserves playing time.

Now’s his time to not just earn it, it’s his time to take it.