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2023 Player Preview: Thiago

This is the year for the winger to step up and become the attacking menace we know he can be

Good style.
Photograph by Katie Cahalin, courtesy NYCFC.com

Thiago

Position: Winger, Attacking Midfielder
Age: 22
2022 Season: 35 games, 14 starts, 1407 min played, 5 goals, 2 assists
Key Stat: 5.0 xG

What went right in 2022:

It was a decent season for Thiago. The Brazilian proved to be a reliable option either starting or coming off the bench for New York City FC, providing intensity and speed whenever he was on the field. Last season Thiago stepped into the role vacated by Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, who was selected in the expansion draft. Thiago’s five goals and two assists in all competitions in 2022 holds up against the seven goals and two assists Tajouri-Shradi logged for NYCFC in 2021.

One much-improved aspect of Thiago’s game was his overall passing. By the numbers, the forward completed 80.4% of the passes attempted, which puts him in the 90% vs other MLS wingers and attacking midfielders per FBref.

What to improve:

Production. Thiago played 1407 minutes last season, and a return of five goals and two assists is low for a player in their second season with the club — he needs to do better than score once every 281 minutes. This should have been a season in which Thiago competed to establish himself in head coach Nick Cushing’s Starting XI, but his lack of contributions meant he was mostly used as a sub.

In order to produce, Thiago needs to be more successful on the dribble. He only completed 38.6% of his attempted dribbles, which is almost a 10% drop compared to the year before. It’s a little surprising that a player who can be so technical and physical took a step back, and he’ll need to correct that in 2022. By beating opponents and getting into better areas of the attacking third, Thiago will be able to produce more crosses or cut in and have a go at goal.

Thiago also needs to be more effective with his passing. Even if his overall passing numbers improved, the quality of his passes left something to be desired: He only made 1.28 key passes per 90 minutes, which put him in the 25th percentile, and 2.37 progressive passes per 90 minutes, which put him in the 38th percentile. He can do better than that.

What to expect in 2023:

Now, we all know what season we are walking into: The loss of Héber, Maxi Moralez, and Santiago Rodríguez means that NYCFC will need their attacking players to step up and reinvigorate the forward line. If Thiago can focus on beating players and upping his overall production then it might feel like New York City signed a brand-new forward.

The offseason and loss of key talent could invigorate Thiago, and inspire him to grab hold of every opportunity offered to him — he should set out to become a thorn in the side of the other team’s defense. He knows Cushing’s system, and now’s the time to bring that Brazilian flair by linking up with Talles Magno and Gabriel Perira to become the most menacing attack in the league.

2023 NYCFC Player Previews

• Talles Magno
Thiago Martins
Samuel “Kwaku” Owusu
Keaton Parks