With the Major League Soccer secondary transfer window opening up, there will surely be a flurry of moves made by teams across the league, including New York City FC. Some teams will improve, while others will become weaker.
Over this past offseason, NYCFC were most certainly the latter. We all know that the team has struggled to adjust to life without Sean Johnson, Maxi Moralez, and more, but how have the departed Pigeons fared in their new homes?
Checking in on players that left NYCFC before the 2023 season
Sean Johnson, Toronto FC
When New York City FC legend and all-time appearance leader Sean Johnson joined Toronto FC in late January, he said that "winning is the most important thing." In New York, Johnson won plenty of games, including an MLS Cup Final where he was named MVP. However, that success has not yet translated in his move up north. TFC sports an ugly 3-10-10 record (19 points) across 23 games, 18 of which Johnson has started.
While Toronto has numerous problems that have caused their lackluster season, Johnson has certainly not helped. Last season, according to FotMob, Johnson prevented 1.1 goals over the course of the season. This number does not jump off the page, but it is notably better than the -2.3 that the American keeper has posted so far in 2023. With this season looking like one to forget in Toronto, who knows what lies ahead for the 34-year-old shot stopper.
Maxi Moralez, Racing Club
Everyone's favorite diminuative midfielder, Maxi Moralez, ended his six-year stay in the big apple to play for Racing Club in his native Argentina. Through 24 matches, Moralez has made 15 appearances, five of which were starts. While Moralez has only scored one goal to go along with two assists, he has still managed to create chances at a high rate, much like he did while playing in MLS.
Per 90 minutes, he leads the team in expected assists with .29, according to FotMob. This is .08 higher than the next highest player on the team. As for team success, Moralez's Racing Club sits in 13th place in Argentina's top flight. This is eleven spots lower than their second place finish in 2022.
Alexander Callens, Girona FC
Centerback Alexander Callens was number three on the NYCFC all-time appearance list (behind Johnson and Moralez) before joining Valentín Castellanos and Girona FC on the east coast of Spain. Over his six seasons at the club, Callens was a mainstay along the back line and made 193 appearances. All but one was a start. He was excellent in New York, and even scored the penalty that won the team their first MLS Cup.
While Callens spent most of his time in a blue shirt on the pitch, most of his time in a red one has been spent on a bench. Unfortunately, he has only made six appearances for his new club, none of which were starts. In total, he has played 120 minutes for La Liga's 10th place team. He will surely be hoping to make more of an impact in the upcoming season.
Anton Tinnerholm, Malmö FF
For the first three years of Anton Tinnerholm's NYCFC career, he was special. A constant feature in the squad, he was one of the best fullbacks in all of MLS. In 2021, everything changed. After making 25 appearances, Tinnerholm ruptured his Achilles tendon in a game against Nashville SC. After that, he was never the same.
In 2022, Tinnerholm would make a brief, ten game return to the NYCFC side. At the end of the season, it was announced that he would be leaving the team, returning to Malmö FF in Sweden. So far, he has made 4 appearances, 3 of which were starts. His team currently sit in second place in the Swedish league.
Héber, Seattle Sounders FC
In 2019, the Brazilian striker, Héber, burst into the Bronx. In his first season with NYCFC, he flooded the stat sheet with 15 goals in 22 matches. After that season, he had a difficult time reaching the same heights. Between the emergence of Castellanos and an ACL tear, Héber could not find consistent playing time. Even after seeing more of the field in 2022, he did not return to the club.
In the MLS offseason, Héber was traded to the Seattle Sounders FC. So far, he has made 17 appearances for his new club, ten of which were starts. He has two goals to go with one assist, where both goals came in his first two games. He did miss a few games in March with a hamstring injury. Since then, he has had difficulty regaining his early-season form. As such, Héber will be looking to prove he still has more goals left in his boots, as his contract expires in December.
Struggles all around
Much like NYCFC, change has not yielded better results for these former stars. While each player could still turn around their fledgling tenures at their new clubs, age is undefeated. As age further catches up to these players, will they be able to turn it around?
It was certainly gut-wrenching for fans to see the likes of Johnson, Moralez, and more leave New York City FC. However, seeing how they have performed at their new clubs, maybe getting the wheels moving on a "rebuild" was in the best interest of everyone.