Maxi Moralez’s missed penalty towards the end of the first leg of New York City FC’s CONCACAF Champions League tie against AD San Carlos was a disheartening reminder that the team’s primary penalty kick taker hasn’t really had it since assuming the duty. Yeah, the rebound was tapped in by (an encroaching) Alexandru Mitrita en route to a 5-3 win which practically guaranteed NYCFC a victory over the second leg. But next time, City might not be so lucky.
Unfortunately, don’t expect the diminutive playmaker to be stepping down from the role any time soon.
In a story done by Front Row Soccer, new manager Ronny Deila backed Maxi as the team’s go-to for PK duties.
The penalty phase: #NYCFC head coach Deila says he will make decisions on who will take PKs, but backs Maxi Moralez, who experienced his problems last year and in 2020 https://t.co/hlxtNdDiZq #MLS #Concacaf #SCCL #CCL #SCCL2020 #CCL2020— Michael Lewis (@Soccerwriter) March 5, 2020
“Maxi, he is a very important player for us,” the Norwegian manager told FRS’s Michael Lewis. “He’s a match winner. He has my trust in these situations. But of course, he has the pressure as well to score goals and he has to practice on it to get it right. But I’m sure the next one he will put in a goal.”
To be fair, this could be Deila not willing to publicly criticize a key player of a team he only just took over. Lesser things have caused chasms within locker rooms before. To that point, Deila also iterated that, regardless of what happens on the field, he will be the man to choose the team’s PK taker.
“I don’t know [what Maxi has] done before. It’s something I decide, of course, who’s going to take the penalties.”
In that first-leg matchup against San Carlos, star forward Héber converted a penalty earlier in the game to collect a hat trick. Mind you, that was the first penalty he’s ever taken since joining the club. And it was a beaut.
Just a though, Ronny.