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Spicy Wings: The upgrades Cufré and Ilenič bring to NYCFC

The two new signings are bright spots in a dark year

Bright lights, big city | Courtesy

New York City FC ushered in a new set of fullbacks in the 2023 offseason, signing young Slovenian right-back Mitja Ilenič from NK Domžale and 26-year-old Argentine left-back Braian Cufré from RCD Mallorca. The fullbacks have been bright spots in a dark year, adding both to the attacking production and the defensive stability the City Football Group style of play demands from the positions. 

NYCFC have a history of excellent fullbacks, dating back to when Angeliño played for the team in 2015. Anton Tinnerholm and Ronald Matarrita are both high on the club’s all-time regular season assist lists: The Swede’s 23 assists make him third, and the Costa Rican’s 13 assists make him ninth. 

This is all to say that NYCFC set a high bar for what the club expects from their fullbacks. Looking back on the season so far, both Cufré and Ilenič are meeting or even exceeding those expectations.

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