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2023 Player Preview: Alfredo Morales

The 32-year-old will bring a veteran’s intelligence to the role of deep-lying playmaker, but Alfredo won’t be afraid-o to do the dirty work and be the enforcer when necessary

“I’m a fool to do your dirty work, oh yeah.” –Steely Dan
Photograph courtesy Katie Cahalin, courtesy

Alfredo Morales

Position: Central Midfielder
Age: 32
2022 MLS Season: 24 games, 21 starts, 1882 min played
Key Stat: 90% Pass completion

What went right in 2022:

Throughout the past season, Alfredo Morales shined with his ball distribution and vision=: The man can pick out passes. Frequently the deep-lying playmaker showcased the fundamental aspect of “finding feet” as he completed 90% of his overall passes for New York City FC. To break that down even further, Morales completed 93.5% of his short passes and 92.2% of his medium passes. Progressing the ball in this manner saw the midfielder help keep the attack pushing forward, and create successful moments of transition.

Morales took on this deep position and the defending side of his game as he racked up 51.6% of completed tackles, 28 interceptions, and 34 clearances. Given their game time, this paints Morales as a midfielder who rose to the occasion when he was featured, and a player who wasn’t against doing the dirty work to either win possession or stop chances of a breakaway or scouring opportunity. (More on that to come.)

What to improve:

David Palmer may have been singing about a midfielder like Morales when he sang the words to Steely Dan’s Dirty Work: The 32-year-old is a player who doesn’t shy away from the chance to get booked. He was shown eight yellow cards in 2022, and one red card. You would have to go back to the 2012-13 season of the 2. Bundesliga to find a time in which he received fewer than five yellow cards, and that was a season that saw him feature only nine times.

Given the lack of depth in the midfield as a whole, Morales will have to find a way to do less dirty work. We’ll need him to focus on making smart challenges that win back possession but that doesn’t put him at risk for a premature departure from a game, or a suspension from yellow cards accumulation. Morales will have to step up this year and be a calmer head who helps NYCFC in transition, and who does not give away cheap, unnecessary fouls.

What to expect:

As we are well into the preseason, we know that Morales will be slotted into the starting XI as a No 6 based on the lineups we’ve seen. The former Düsseldorf man will show his consistency in the center of the pitch as his veteran status will provide balance to a young midfield. His desire to play and prove himself this coming season will see Morales build attacking plays from the back, and motivate his teammates. Furthermore, his talk of fitness and preseason appearances will see Morales settle in as a true ball-winning midfielder.

Now, I have to say that while I want him to stop leaning into the Dirty Work (and maybe find someone else to do it for free), I do foresee a season with a suspension or two. However, this will come from his work ethic. Morales is a player who will run himself ragged for the NYCFC midfield.

2023 NYCFC Player Previews

• Tony Alfaro
• Malte Amundsen
• Luis Barraza
• Maxime Chanot
• Maximo Carrizo
• Braian Crufré
• Matt Freese
• Chris Gloster
• Tayvon Gray
• Justin Haak
• Mitja Ilenič
• Kevin O’Toole
• Samuel “Kwaku” Owusu
• Keaton Parks
• Matías Pellegrini
• Gabriel Pereira
• Talles Magno
• Thiago
• Thiago Martins