Finally, New York City FC announced their postseason roster moves. The club issued a statement summarizing their current roster earlier today — a full 24 hours after New York City was required to disclose current contracts to MLS.
The big news? NYCFC exercised the options on veteran midfielder Maxi Moralez and new signing Kevin O’Toole. Both will remain with the club through the 2023 season. New York City also exercised the options on Nicolas Benalcazar and Jonathan Jimenez, both of whom spent the year playing with NYCFC II.
Moralez will turn 36 in February, but the ageless playmaker was at the top of his game in 2022, and was an instrumental part of NYCFC winning the MLS Cup in 2021. While he no longer logs the minutes of a younger man, Moralez continues to pull the strings in New York City’s midfield. Moralez’s guaranteed compensation in 2022 was $1.3 million.
The 23-year-old O’Toole was playing at Princeton University before joining New York City in 2022, where he spent most of the year playing for NYCFC II. He had a breakout performance when head coach Nick Cushing called on him to start in the Campeones Cup match against Liga MX champions Atlas FC, and he remained in the Starting XI for the rest of the regular season and through the playoffs. O’Toole’s guaranteed compensation in 2022 was $65,500.
NYCFC also declined the options for defender Vuk Latinovich, forward Matías Pellegrini, and midfielder Gedion Zelalem.
Latinovich was signed as a backup central defender in 2021, but he never earned the trust of Senior Team coaches. The 25-year-old appeared in 5 games in 2022, logging 252 minutes, but when injuries to central defender should have cleared the way for Latinovich to play the coaches instead chose to play right-back Tayvoin Gray, midfielder Justin Hake, or midfielder Alfredo Morales. Latinovich’s guaranteed compensation in 2022 was $85,444.
Pellegrini was claimed off waivers in August — it was a surprise move by sporting director David Lee, who seemingly couldn’t pass up the bargain of signing a highly-regarded left-winger without pains a transfer fee. Despite being heavily praised for his technical ability by Cushing Pelligrini made only a handful of appearances for the club, appearing in just 4 games for a total of 59 minutes. Pellegrini was competing for game time with Santiago Rodríguez, Thiago, and Talles Magno (when shifted to the left to accommodate Héber), and never fully gelled with the squad. Pellegrini’s guaranteed compensation in 2022 was $970,833.
Zelalem is another player who didn't deliver on his promise. The former top prospect for Arsenal is a technically gifted player who never found a regular role in the NYCFC system, making only one start in 11 appearances and logged a total of 191 minutes in 2022 despite the mid-season injuries that depleted the squad. Zelalem’s guaranteed compensation in 2022 was $84,000.
Other business is still to be decided: Alex Callens, Sean Johnson, and Justin Haak are out of contract, and the loan period for Santiago Rodríguez from Montevideo City will expire on December 31, 2022.