When he’s on, SeanJohn is still one of the better goalkeepers in MLS. In 15 games this season, the Georgia native has made 29 saves and has logged 6 clean sheets. There are times, however, when Johnson can switch off and not be as aggressive as he possibly should be. But for the most part, Johnson has been as sure-handed as they come in between the pipes.
As a backup keeper, Stuver has held up his end of the bargain when Johnson has not been available. The veteran netminder has played four games this season and has even collected his first career clean sheet in his pro career while in blue. Not bad.
Mata has really had a Jekyll & Hyde season. There have been times when he’s looked every bit as good and well-rounded as he was touted to be when he first arrived in 2016, while there’s been others where he’s looked like he’s possibly lost a step. However, New York City FC’s longest tenured player is still the best option at left back/wingback. And to be completely fair, he’s been pretty good to this point all things considered.
It hurts to give Sweat a grade this low considering I still consider him one of NYCFC’s best hidden gems. But after two solid seasons, Sweat seems to have struggled this year in Domé Torrent’s 3-4-3 system. Whether this is him being left behind by the league’s growing quality or just him struggling to fit within a new scheme, it’s obvious that the former trialist isn’t having the best of times these days. Still, it isn’t too late to have a late resurgence.
NYCFC’s first-ever Homegrown Player is every bit as good as advertised. Whether it’s playing as a center back in the back line or being the defensive pivot in the midfield, James Sands has impressed every step along the way. Despite only being 18 years old, he plays as if he’s been a pro for a decade. The young Rye, NY native’s resume includes keeping the likes of Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his back pocket, and we can’t wait to see who he silences next.
The Swedish right back seemed to get off to a slow start earlier this season, but has since returned to the stunning form he practically lived in last year. Whether it’s tracking back on defense or getting involved in the attack, Tinnerholm has looked brilliant. We’re still waiting for that first 2019 goal, though. I’m sure it’s coming eventually.
Chanot may be the best center back in the league, and that is not an exaggeration. Even the league has acknowledged how good the Luxembourg international is. And so long as he stays healthy, there’s no telling what he can accomplish as we enter the thick of the summer leg of the season.
The Peruvian center back continues to impress in his third year with the club. Whether it’s in the air or with the ball at his feet, Callens has a skillset that is so well rounded and developed. Though he might not be as much of a pure beast as Chanot, there’s no denying that Callens is more than your average sidekick.
I’m not gonna be too harsh — when it comes to having a decent backup to shore up the back line, Ibeagha absolutely has his uses. But the more he plays, the less effective he has proven to be. In a pinch, the Nigerian-born defender has the ability to step up. But he still lacks the technicality to be a weekly option.
There’s no other way to put it — Maxi has been NYCFC’s best player this season. The diminutive playmaker has progressively improved with each passing season since arriving to the Bronx in 2017, and it would be an absolute crime for him not to be an MVP candidate this year. The numbers speak for themselves: 17 games, 6 goals, 13 assists. That is absolutely incredible.
In his first year as NYCFC captain, Ring has been good. Really good. Unfortunately, we’re used to seeing him be great much like he was in both 2017 and 2018. That’s not to say the Finn has been bad by any means. It’s just that something feels... not there. Due to yellow card suspension, Ring was forced to miss City’s last contest. And I’m sure a one-week break will serve the defensive midfielder well.
In his second year on loan from VfB Stuttgart, Ofori has truly come into his own as a box-to-box option for the Blues. The Ghanaian’s passing and skills on the ball have both improved drastically in 2019. He’s also scored two goal, both of which have been bangers. I think it’s definitely time for NYCFC to consider purchasing his contract from Stuttgart.
The young American on loan from Benfica struggled to get consistent minutes in early goings of 2019. Since the first few rounds of the U.S. Open Cup, however, Parks has earned more minutes and even a few starts. And you know what? He’s pretty damn good. There is obviously still work to be done, but I think Keaton should emerge as a top talent before the year’s conclusion.
Did he have a good Open Cup? Yes. Has he been effective in MLS play? Unfortunately, no. Rocha is obviously a depth piece, so it’s hard to give him too much guff. But it must be said — had he not be involved in both the season opener against Orlando City and Minnesota United’s first-ever game at Allianz Field, it’s very possible that NYCFC would have four more points than they do now. Hell, that might be a certainty.
When it comes to “most improved” since last season, I think Castellanos is a shoe-in. After arriving in the summer of 2018, it was obvious that Taty had talent. But the young Argentinian struggled to translate that quality into stats. This year, the tides have turned. In 16 appearances, Castellanos has amassed 5 goals and 3 assists, and has also been exttemely good off the ball. NYCFC’s decision to purchase his loan option looks more and more like the right decision with each passing game.
When healthy, the Libyan winger has been good. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been healthy. Tajouri-Shradi has 4 goals and 2 assists in 12 appearances this season, which is pretty damn good. But one has to wonder if he’s beginning to lose his spot due to his constant unavailability.
NYCFC’s newest DP has been a bit of a polarizing figure. Yielding the most expensive transfer fee in NYCFC’s history, Mitrita has definitely been good this season with 5 goals and a single assist. But still, is that enough to justify the aforementioned $9 million fee? The Romanian still has time to make his mark and adjust to his new surroundings. But New York fans aren’t known for their patience.
Héber has undeniably been an absolute force since joining NYCFC in late March. In 12 games (10 of them starts), the Brazilian has netted 8 goals and has also grabbed 3 assists. There isn’t much to say about that other than it’s beastly. And to think that we were unsure as to his ability at the striker position.