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2024 NYCFC Player Preview: Julián Fernández

The 20-year-old is the presumed starter at right wing, and should light up the league in 2024.

NYCFC right winger Julián Fernández in 2024 preseason training | Courtesy
Name: Julián Fernández
Position: Right Wing
Age: 20
Key Stat: 2 goals in 9 appearances for NYCFC last season (320 minutes of play)

Julián Fernández signed for NYCFC From Velez Sarsfield in the secondary transfer window last summer, and did so during some dark times for the club. 

NYCFC were sitting at 13th in the Eastern Conference going into Leagues Cup, Julián joined a side desperate for attacking creativity and output. While he only made nine appearances for his new club last season, the bits we did see of Fernández in an NYCFC shirt were incredibly impressive.

But, with such a small sample size of playing time to draw from, and with plenty of attacking reinforcement through the door this winter, Julian will need to prove himself even further to head coach Nick Cushing and company if he’s to lock down the right wing position and show the front office he was worth the hefty $5 million fee for which he was reportedly signed.

What went well in 2023

Fernández brought the exact attacking mentality that so many in our front line seemed to lack last season. He was direct, fearless, and hungry for goals. Starting out on the right wing, he looked to isolate opposing fullbacks 1-v-1 and drive inside onto his preferred left foot. And he’s got an absolute wand of a left foot that he’s willing to uncork and a moment’s notice.

 We saw that exact script unfurl on two occasions last season: Once against Toronto FC at Red Bull Arena, and once again at Citi Field against Chicago Fire. Both goals were stunners in their own right, but boasted different strengths from the talented youngster. 

The Toronto goal showed good technical interplay between him and Talles Magno, followed by an impressive turn of pace in the open field, where he carried the ball nearly 40 yards before cutting inside and slotting one home.

His Chicago goal, on the other hand, was just an absolute howitzer into the top left corner from about 25 yards out, demonstrating the raw power he keeps charged up in that left boot of his. 

What to expect in 2024

I expect Julian to be the day-one starter at right wing this season. He proved a real threat in his appearances at the tail end of last season, and he’s now had some time to further acclimate himself with coaches, teammates, and the city itself. With his talent, I think there’s a real possibility that he could be a key player for us in that position all year long. 

But, any minutes Fernández sees at right wing won’t come uncontested. The offseason signings of Augustín Ojeda and Hannes Wolf make Cushing’s options on the right flank feel plentiful. Add to that guys like Andres Jasson and draft pick Malachi Jones, and there are a lot of players vying for some game time. 

That level of competition for places suggests that all NYCFC wingers will need to be at the top of their game to see consistent minutes this year — especially since there’s no real incumbent to secure the position through performances of prior seasons. 

Hopefully that healthy competition breeds the attacking output the Pigeons were so desperate for last season.