The revelation that Keaton Parks is pretty damn good at football is not a new one. Both fans and pundits of New York City FC — as well as the game of football at large — have been acutely aware of such things for quite some time. After all, we are talking about a player whose mere insertion into the lineup in 2019, after a period in which he hardly saw the field, could’ve changed NYCFC’s regular season fortunes and turned them into the best team in the Eastern Conference.
But last night against Orlando City, Parks’ star shined brighter than it ever has before. The American midfielder was a presence all night, both in the attack — where he managed to scrap his way to City’s only goal of the night — and on defense where he made the world class Nani look pedestrian with several dispossessions of the Portuguese winger. Even in a game where both clubs took home a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw, Parks was the player who captured all the glory.
Keaton Parks was the best player on the pitch for #NYCFC.— Justin Egan (@EganSoccerWords) October 15, 2020
He finished with the team lead in g+ above average (0.40), xG (1.31), & xG+xA (1.52).
Combined nicely on the right with GMS & hopefully cemented his role as the most forward CM. #USMNT pic.twitter.com/9yK6TmguHH
Obviously, Parks’ goal on the night will be the stat that most people see initially. But when you dive deeper, the midfielder’s performance is even more impressive. As Justin Egan points out above, Parks led the team with a g+ of 0.40, an xG of 1.31, and xG + xA of 1.52. Additonally, the former Benfica youngster completed 83% of his passes, two key passes, and two dribbles on 72 total touches. On the defensive side, Parks dispossessed Nani on at least two occasions while completing four tackles and making both one interception and clearance.
Oh, and he picked up a yellow card, too. Just to make things interesting.
With NYCFC lacking so many weapons going into the final stretch of the 2020 season, it’s imperative that players like Parks step up big time if the team is to have a shot at glory once the playoffs come around. And if his performance last night is any indication, the young American midfielder is willing to leave it all on the field to ensure his team isn’t defeated.