Earlier today, New York City FC announced the addition of former FIFA World Cup winner Kléberson to the coaching staff. The Brazilian was most recently the assistant coach for Philadelphia Union II, and worked as a coach at the vaunted Philadelphia Union Academy since 2016.
Even though he isn't a player, Kléberson could prove to be the summer's key signing. NYCFC have five Brazilian players after adding Designated Player Thiago Martins in the offseason and Gabriel Pereira in March, and Kléberson will provide a key linguistic and cultural link between the locker room and the club.
He will help fill a gap left behind when former head coach Ronny Deila left NYCFC for Standard Liége last month and took assistant coach Efraín Juárez with him. Juárez was liked and respected in the locker room, and his language skills were important for a roster with 10 players from Latin America.
Kléberson will also bring his pedigree as a player and as a coach. The former midfielder was a key member of the Brazilian team that won the 2002 FIFA World Cup, and started in both the quarterfinal game against England, the semifinal against Turkey, and the final against Germany. Kléberson provided one of the assists in Brazil’s 2-0 win over Germany, carrying the ball down the left and then slotting it across the top of the box to Ronaldo.
Kléberson also won the 2014 Copa America with Brazil, and played at the club level with Manchester United, Beşiktaş, and Flamengo. He finished his career in the United States, playing for the Philadelphia Union, Indy Eleven, and Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
“I’m very excited to be part of New York City Football Club,” Kléberson is quoted as saying in a statement issued by NYCFC. “It’s a big club, a big organization. The way the team plays makes me so excited to join. I’m here to help the guys become even better players, I am here to do my best to help grow the team and to help the team win more MLS Cups.”
Kléberson goes on to say that he believes in the style of play fond at NYCTC “We have a lot of guys that are very comfortable with the ball, really technical players,” Kléberson said. “Growing up playing in the streets, I always enjoyed having the ball at my feet. I feel like I can contribute a lot, in terms of those details, to get the opportunity to create more, score more goals and have fun with the ball.”