Position: Central Defender
2021 League Games: 26 games, 25 starts, 2,098 minutes played
2021 Postseason: 4 games, 4 starts, 420 minutes played
What went right in 2021:
Once again, Alexander Callens provided a stable, consistent presence in the New York City FC backline. For years now, he and Maxime Chanot have formed a defending duo that has been reliable if not elite. Callens’s ability to play with the ball at his feet has always been an important element to NYCFC’s ability to maintain possession, with 2021 being no different. Cycling between partnering with Chanot, James Sands and Sebastien Ibeagha he showed himself to be a leader on this season’s team. His club play has earned him more call-ups to his national team, as he has become a regular for Peru during their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign as well.
Of course, this is all topped off by Callens hitting the final penalty to make NYCFC the MLS Cup champions in 2021:
What to improve 2022:
Honestly, it’s hard to find many holes in Callens’s game right now. He is playing arguably at his highest level of his career. Callens is not the gambling ball-winner he was early on, but he’s now playing a steadier game. That won’t always show up in the stat line, but it’s essential to playing champion-level football. At 29, he’s still at his peak physically, and he will need that athleticism as he uses his pace to support the backline. As Chanot gets older, however, it could be argued that now is the time for Callens to show his mettle as a backline leader so the club can look to get younger in central defense.
What to expect in 2022:
Whether he’ll be playing alongside Chanot for most of the season once again, or playing alongside new acquisition Thiago Martins, Callens will be a mainstay in the lineup all season, save for international call-ups. Time will reveal whether or not manager Ronny Deila opts to go with a three-man backline, or stick with the four-man lineup that went all the way to MLS Cup. In either event, Callens is poised to remain the solid defender he has always been, patrolling as far out as the touch line and recovering centrally when needed.
We can be reassured that we’ll continue to see Callens play at the peak of his powers this year.
More 2022 Player Previews: