New York City FC youth product Justin Haak has long been touted as a talented midfielder on the cusp of a first-team breakthrough. Having impressed with NYCFC’s youth academy since its inception in 2015, Haak was signed to senior team contract in 2019. Since then, we have only seen the Brooklyn native sparingly — he has made three appearances at the MLS level to this point, with an additional three caps coming in U.S. Open Cup competition.
This is, in part, due to City’s depth in the central midfield position, which includes players such as team captain Alexander Ring, Keaton Parks, touted newcomer Nicolas “Cacha” Acevedo, and fellow youth prospect James Sands among others. When you’re competing with what is, on paper, possibly the deepest midfield in the entire league, it’s hard to crack through as an 18-year-old blue chipper.
With this in mind, NYCFC have decided to loan out Haak to the USL Championship’s Hartford Athletic where he will attempt to gain much-needed playing time for the remainder of the USL season with the club having the option to recall the midfielder at any time.
Hartford Athletic’s season officially ends on October 4. And despite MLS’s Phase 1 return ending officially next week, all signs point to Phase 2 being announced any day now seeing as the league has had little trouble since resuming their regular season proper and are currently scheduled to have the MLS Cup Final in December. This means that it’s possible we might still see Haak play in an NYCFC kit before 2020 is over.
Haak becomes the second player in the last two years to be sent to Hartford to hone his craft, with the first being former midfielder Dan Bedoya who spent his season in Connecticut’s capital city in 2019.