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Youth Movement: NYCFC's players are younger than you think

New York City field five U22 players on average, while their opponents field just two.

NYCFC winger Julián Fernandez will be able to go to a nightclub in two years |

Fact: New York City FC have the second-youngest squad in MLS, with an average age of 23.1 years for the players signed to the senior team.

But when we looked into the numbers, we discovered that this NYCFC squad aren’t just young, they’re dramatically younger and less experienced than almost all of the teams they face — and they’re much, much greener than the New York City teams that found success in 2019, 2021, and 2022.

This season, only the New Jersey Red Bulls are younger, with an average age of 22.7 years. CF Montréal are the third-youngest, at 24.0 years. At the other end of the scale, the four oldest teams all top an average age of 27.0 years: LA Galaxy (27.1), Portland Timbers (27.2), Nashville SC (27.2), and DC United (27.3) might consider signing the AARP to sleeve sponsorships.

But those numbers can be misleading. NYCFC’s youthful roster officially includes midfielder Maxímo Carrizo, age 15, and defender Christian McFarlane, age 16, but both of them are developing their skills with NYCFC II in MLS NEXT Pro, not playing in MLS league games. Take away those players, and the team is older.

It made us wonder, exactly how old are the players who line up in the Starting XI on game days? 

The answer: Much younger than you might think.

We calculated the average age of the Starting XI for every one of NYCFC’s MLS league games this season, both for New York City and their opponents. We also noted the number of players under the age of 22, which is the league’s official cutoff for a Young Player. You can see the full table at the end of the post.

Here are five observations:

1. NYCFC are younger 89% of the time

NYCFC had the younger squad in 25 out of the 28 games played so far this season. The only teams that out-youthed NYCFC were the New Jersey Red Bulls on May 13, Atlanta United on June 21, and CF Montréal on July 1

Both the Red Bulls and Montréal make sense: They are the youngest squads in MLS, along with NYCFC. As for the Atlanta squad that faced NYCFC that day, they were missing so many first team starters that the club brought in Atlanta United 2 players to fill out the lineup card — one of whom, Nick Firmino, scored his first MLS goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time to steal a draw at home. 

As for the other 25 games, NYCFC were younger, and almost always by a significant margin.

Throughout the season so far, New York City players were on average 2.3 years younger than their opponents. In some games, that gap was a full five years.

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