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2023 Player Preview: Keaton Parks

After missing much of last season after undergoing blood clot surgery for the second time, will Keaton once again become the complete player we know him to be?

Keaton is back.
Photograph courtesy NYCFC.com

Keaton Parks

Position: Central Midfield
Age: 25
2022 MLS Games: 18 games, 12 starts, 1025 min played
Key Stat: 88.5% passing accuracy

What went right in 2022:

As the 2022 New York City FC campaign began, it was clear that Parks would be slowly integrated into the squad after coming off of the blood clot surgery in November of 2021 that, thankfully, went well. When healthy and match-fit, Parks continued to prove himself in 2022 as an impressive passer who looked to continually progress the ball forward. The Texan’s key stat from this past season is his pass accuracy: In 1137 minutes across both league and playoff action, Park completed 88.5% of his passes, which improved on the numbers he put up in 2021.

Needless to say, it was a touch-and-go season for Parks, who once again was sidelined with a second blood clot surgery and didn’t return to the lineup until September. Still, he continued to prove himself in the minutes he was on the field and showed his quality throughout a unique season for the Pigeons.

What to improve:

As always, coming back from an injury can have an effect on a player’s game and. Park’s numbers showed this to be the case: He had just two goals and zero assists in 2022, compared to four goals and one assist in 2021. Put another way, his xAG rate of 1.1 in 2022 was a drop from his xAG of 2.9 in the 2021 season.

Was this due to a lack of playing time? His form? We can debate the reasons behind it, but this will need to be a focus of Park’s play moving into this season with the departure of key players in the NYCFC midfield.

Moving into 2023, we will need Park to find his 2021 defensive form again and cement himself as the ball winner that we know him to be. His defensive numbers fell this past year, and he will need to once again be a midfielder who can break up play by killing the momentum of the other team in the middle of the field as NYCFC prepare for this new, uncertain season.

What to expect in 2023:

This coming year, I see Keaton using his intelligence and technique to move the players around him forward: He will need to step up and marshal the midfield. I think we will see him adopt a deeper role that sees him play the role of a distributor. However, I also see Keaton learning how to best make runs into the opponent’s half as he seeks to pass in our attackers or arrive in the box late and maybe bag more goals. This is the time for Keaton to cement himself as a leader who will help guide NYCFC through this season.

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