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2023 Player Preview: Luis Barraza

The 26-year-old goalkeeper is the heir apparent to the starting role at NYCFC

A picture says a thousand words.
Photograph by Katie Cahalin, courtesy

Luis Barraza

Age: 26
Position: Goalkeeper
2022 MLS NEXT Pro Season: 5 starts, 1 clean sheet, 11 saves, 6 goals allowed
Key Stat: 390 Senior Team minutes in 2022

What went right in 2022:

An MLS SuperDraft pickup in 2019, Luis Barraza has spent his time at New York City FC as a reserve goalkeeper, serving as the backup to Sean Johnson these past two seasons. In 2022, Sean Johnson was available for all of NYCFC’s regular season and playoff games leaving no minutes for Barraza in MLS. Still, Barraza was able to get game time in MLSNextPro, the US Open Cup, and the Campeones Cup.

Barraza logged a clean sheet when NYCFC defeated Atlas FC in the Campeones Cup, and he played in all three of NYCFC’s US Open Cup matches — he was in the net for both the 1-0 win over New England Revolution and 3-0 loss to New Jersey Red Bulls. In five games for NYCFC II, he kept one clean sheet and saved multiple penalties. In limited game time Barraza’s proved to be a reliable shot-stopper and someone that could step into the starting role now that Sean Johnson has left.

What to improve:

The NYCFC system demands a lot from the goalkeeper in possession: He is consistently being asked to play under pressure and to complete difficult passes. Barraza doesn’t lack the confidence to play in that role, however his technical ability on the ball has some room for improvement.

In Barraza’s minutes with the Senior Team, he’s clearly willing to use his feet, and other players aren’t afraid to pass him the ball. However, there are moments when his distribution is off-target. If he is given the chance to become the starter in 2023, his passing abilities will be a key factor in whether or not he succeeds in the role.

What to expect in 2023:

After Sean Johnson made his departure for Toronto last Friday, the starting spot is up for grabs for the first time since Barraza arrived at NYCFC. The acquisition of Philadelphia Union backup Matt Freese suggests that there will be competition between him and Barraza for the starting role. While both keepers have the opportunity to grab the number-one spot, and assuming another goalkeeper isn’t signed, Barraza should be the leading candidate.

In 2021, Barraza started five games when Johnson was on international duty and played well, keeping two clean sheets — and providing an assist to Ismael Tajour-Shradi. In his four Senior Team games in 2022, Barraza kept two clean sheets. Given consistent starting minutes, the 26-year-old should cement himself as NYCFC’s starting keeper for the next couple of years.

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