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2024 NYCFC Player Preview: Santiago Rodríguez

Indispensable at times for NYCFC in 2023, the Uruguayan has more to prove in 2024.

NYCFC midfielder Santiago Rodríguez in 2024 preseason training |Courtesy
Name: Santiago Rodríguez
Position: Attacking Midfielder
Age: 24
Key Stat: 13 – that's the number of Santi's goal involvements (5 goals, 8 assists), which accounts for one-third of NYCFC's total of 40 goals in all competitions

Playing a part in 31 of New York City FC's 34 MLS matches in 2023 and all of the squad's Leagues Cup and US Open Cup matches, Santi Rodriguez has established himself as one of the first names on Nick Cushing's team sheet. 

Yet, while finishing as the club's top scorer and top assister, with seven goals and six assists, the 24-year-old Uruguayan still has much more room to grow, especially if NYCFC hopes to return to the pinnacle of the MLS standings. 

The attack's lynchpin

An indispensable asset for Cushing's side, Rodriguez's 13 combined goals and assists gave NYCFC life at certain points during the 2023 season, even after the departure of Gabriel Pereira. And at just 24 years old, the Uruguayan U23 international will have much more to offer as the talent improves alongside him. 

However, despite his versatility, which saw Rodriguez operate as a No. 10, No. 9, and off the wing at times, the Uruguayan only managed a goal contribution every 220 minutes. Suffice it to say, while the talent is evident, Rodriguez has the tendency to be streaky in front of goal. 

Nevertheless, with the additions of Hannes Wolf and Agustin Ojeda this winter, coupled with the signings of Mounsef Bakrar and Julián Fernández in 2023, the club has done a good job at surrounding Rodriguez with ample talent to complement his game. Averaging over 1.3 accurate long passes, chipped passes, and crosses per game, fans should expect Rodriguez's expected goals and assists to increase dramatically. 

It seems that NYCFC's game philosophy has changed following a below-par year in 2023.

Adding a plethora of young, hungry attacking talent to an already experienced squad should fill fans with some optimism. And in the case of Rodriguez, expect the Uruguayan to take on a larger role, not only on the field, but in the locker room as well. 

Rodriguez is one of the most experienced players in the squad, having made over 100 appearances for the Boys in Blue at just 24 years of age. Cushing and his staff will rely on Rodriguez to provide consistency and cohesion in attack, as NYCFC look to waste zero time in the hunt for a return to the MLS Cup Playoffs.