2023 end of the season superlatives: NYCFC

-Take a look at the end of the season superlatives for NYCFC

Matt Freese of NYCFC
Matt Freese of NYCFC / Jose L. Argueta/ISI Photos/GettyImages

New York City FC's season came to an end after both the New York Red Bulls and Charlotte FC were victorious on Decision Day, despite the boys in blue beating Chicago Fire FC 1-0. It has been a frustrating year, to say the least, as NYCFC will miss out on their first Major League Soccer postseason since 2015.

Though there is more bad than good, the club should still recognize the hard work the players put in this season.    

Here are the 2023 end of the season superlatives for NYCFC.

MVP- Santiago Rodríguez  

Santiago Rodríguez is NYCFC's MVP. He came back to the club after deciding to turn down a permanent stay with Montevideo City Torque. He was the team leader in both goals and assists, with five goals and eight assists in 31 MLS matches. A lack of a number nine hurt his assist count after recording 13 during the 2022 season.  

Rodríguez was also named Etihad Player of the Month twice. He is one of the few players left from the 2021 MLS Cup Championship squad too. With the departure of Maxime Chanot, he could potentially become the next captain of the team. The good news for NYCFC fans is that Rodríguez is set to stay in New York until 2027, maybe until the new stadium is built as well.  

Most Improved Player- Thiago Martins 

Thiago Martins was not a fan favorite last season after costly mistakes and own goals led to lost points for the team. He had to step up in 2023. Thankfully, he was the most improved player.

Now, in his second season in blue, Martins has become not only one of the best players for NYCFC but is finally liked by fans. He ended the season starting 24 of the 26 MLS games played, recording six clean sheets, 12 interceptions, and a 61% duel percentage. 

Martins also had to take on a huge role as the leader of the back line after Chanot's departure in the summer. Since he left, the defense improved with the Brazilian leading them to five clean sheets while allowing just four goals in eight contests. Having Birk Risa alongside him was also helpful, but most of the credit for the improved backline goes to Martins after struggling to keep up with MLS play last season.  

Comeback Player of the Year- Keaton Parks 

Keaton Parks underwent a blood clot surgery last year and missed a big chunk of the season in 2022, starting just 12 of the 21 matches played in MLS. This season, he has made a comeback by playing in 32 MLS games.

Parks has become one of the most consistent players and a rock in the defensive midfield. He finished the year recording two goals and three assists. He also had 27 attacking assists, the most since his 2021 campaign.   

If it was not for a minor ankle injury, then he would have played all 34 games. Parks signed a multi-year contract in 2020, but his future remains up in the air due to questions on when the contract ends. Plus, he was also a big part of the 2021 run to the MLS Cup, scoring four goals with three assists in 28 starts in 31 appearances.   

Team Rookie MVP- Matt Freese 

Matt Freese was on his way to another season as a backup goalkeeper keeper, but he did not look back after getting a shot to start. He joined NYCFC from the Philadelphia Union in the offseason after the departure of Sean Johnson. Luiz Barraza began the season as the main goalkeeper but was later replaced by Freese in late August. He started the last eight matches, completing five clean sheets while allowing just four goals in that span. As such, he is the team rookie MVP.

His performance should be no surprise as he was Andre Blake’s backup since 2019, who has been the best MLS goalkeeper in the last few seasons. Nevertheless, he is already in a good position to take the starting keeping role next season after his impressive end to the campaign, while also finding the perfect goalkeeper to replace Johnson.   

Underdog Player of the Year- Andres Jasson 

Andres Jasson was a nobody in the team since joining NYCFC in 2020, as he was only used off the bench. He was on the roster when the team won the MLS Cup in 2021, but did not play much of a role. Now at 21 years old, the Homegrown player is turning into a fan favorite and an underdog. He finished the season by winning a starting role over Richard Ledezma and Matías Pellegrini, totaling two goals with an assist in his last seven matches.  

In MLS, he generated three goals and one assist in 21 games. With several changes expected to happen in the offseason, Jasson’s spot on the team seems to be safe, as the young man from Connecticut has a big future with New York City FC after surprising everyone with his performance near the end of the season.