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NYCFC 2023 Final Grades

Our pundits sit down for a Roundtable discussion to issue the final grades for NYCFC’s performance in 2023.

Keaton Parks has a nice smile | Courtesy

New York City FC’s 2023 season is done and dusted. Now it’s time for Andrew LeighRaf Noboa y Rivera, and Oliver Strand to hand out final grades for has been, by most accounts, a roundly disappointing year for NYCFC.

Note that there’s no grade inflation here, no easy A’s – what, do you think this is Princeton? 

1. Goalkeeping

Raf Noboa y Rivera: Luis Barraza began the season as New York City’s starting goalkeeper. He was demoted in favor of Matt Freese as the season ended, though not through any fault of his own. NYCFC traded for Freese in the off-season, sending $350,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) to Philadelphia for his services. You don’t spend that much money for a backup keeper. Freese acquitted himself competently, starting the final eight games. I wouldn’t expect them to be starting for a title contender, but at this point in the Pigeons’ rebuild, you could do worse. 
Midterm Grade: B
Final Grade:

Andrew Leigh: At midterm time, I wrote that Barraza was excelling as the starter and that this position ranked low as an area of concern, but that did not hold true in the second half of the season. Barraza struggled and outright lost the job to Freese, who excelled, but who also played far fewer minutes and only got a limited run as the consistent No 1 goalkeeper at the very end of the season. The position was handled poorly in 2023, though Freese did look promising.
Midterm Grade: B-
Final Grade: C

Oliver Strand: I agree with Andrew’s timeline: Barraza looked pretty good, then he didn’t, and he lost the starting job to Freese. Maybe I’m more bullish on Freese than both Andrew and Raf, but I thought he looked excellent — five clean sheets in 10 starts is no joke. More to the point, we all watched Freese improve over the final eight games of the season, and I think his recent performances lifted the overall grade.
Midterm Grade: B-
Final Grade: B+

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