Position: Defensive Midfielder
2021 League Games: 24 games, 15 starts, 1350 minutes played
2021 Postseason: 0 games, 0 starts, 0 minutes played
What went right in 2021:
Before Nicolás Acevedo joined New York City FC in March 2020, the defensive midfielder had been linked to Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool: Mouthwatering stuff. The young prospect was a big get for City, a club now building a reputation for developing promising players into near-elite talents. Jack Harrison, James Sands, and Taty Castellanos all raised their stock by playing in the Bronx.
Will Acevedo follow that track? He certainly has the potential. The 22-year-old figured regularly in the 2021 campaign, notching 30 interceptions in 24 games and getting playing time in a midfield stacked with quality players. In December, sporting director David Lee demonstrated his belief in Acevedo by signing him to a contract extension that will keep him at the club through 2025, with an option for 2026.
What to improve in 2022:
Even thought Acevedo became a regular starter in June, the team didn't always perform that well when he was on the field at the starting whistle—NYCFC lost 7 out of 15 games that he started. He mostly looks sharp, but some times he doesn’t seem to be fully integrated in a team that likes to dispossess the opposition and play keep-away. Acevedo can be pressured when he’s on the ball and make small errors that let the other team regain possession. While his technical ability is strong, he sometimes seems rushed: Acevedo could stand to take a page from the Sands playbook and become more calm and decisive when working out from the back.
What to expect in 2022:
Acevedo will see significantly more playing time now that Sands signed with Rangers FC in Glasgow, and will likely share defensive midfield duties with the 31-year-old Alfredo Morales. The NYCFC front office doesn’t like to make hasty transitions, preferring to wait for a developing player to grow into a position and take over only when he is ready. That might happen this year for Acevedo, or it might take a little longer.
As his contract extension attests, Acevedo will figure significantly in NYCFC’s future. It’s just not entirely clear if that future is now.
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