Maxi Moralez leaves New York City FC as a club legend

New York City FC v New York Red Bulls: Quarterfinals - U.S. Open Cup
New York City FC v New York Red Bulls: Quarterfinals - U.S. Open Cup / Howard Smith/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Every New York City FC fan knew that Maxi Moralez wanted to eventually return home to Argentina and play for his boyhood club.  This is something he has declared for years, so it was known that he would leave at some point and time.  But after another great season in 2022, some thought they would have the midfielder for one more year.

However, after much consideration, the 35 year old thought the time to return to Racing Club de Avellaneda was now.  So, after six seasons of wearing the city blue shirt, Moralez and NYCFC are saying goodbye to one another

The Pigeons officially announced the star’s departure last Friday.  While not ideal, especially in an offseason where a few stars have left, clearly everyone is happy for the Argentine.  His dream was to finish his career with the same club that gave him his start.  He gave his all for the NYCFC crest, so it is fitting that the Bronx side gave him the ability to decide when it was time to leave.

Of course, the team would have preferred to keep their star for one more year.  However, time does not stop, and Moralez must be wondering how much longer he can play, and might want to have a few years with Racing before hanging up his boots.

Maxi Moralez leaves New York City FC after six seasons

Quite easily he is the best midfielder to have played for New York City FC, but also was one of the best to ever play in Major League Soccer.  For starters, Moralez made the midfield better.  It's that simple.  When he was on the pitch, the flow of the game looked smoother.  The passing accuracy was higher when he played, and it always seemed the giveaways decreased. 

At the same time, the service was always stronger with the Argentine.  He consistently added to the attacking threat, and always created opportunities for others to score.  His vision and ability to see exactly what his teammates were about to do is why he was named the Little Genius.  His soccer IQ is extremely high, and as a result, it enriched his talent. 

Therefore, it is no surprise that Moralez had 36 goals and 60 assists during his tenure with NYCFC.  His most notable year came in 2019, when he had 20 assists during the MLS regular season.  He led the league during that season, and it was also the year when the Pigeons finished in first place in the Eastern Conference. 

Most importantly, the Little Genius was a huge part of the 2021 MLS Cup Championship run.  Without him on the pitch, the midfield would have been a little weaker, especially since Keaton Parks was not available.  But he was the glue that held it together.  Plus, his assist led to Valentín Castellanos’ goal in the championship game, which would have been the winner if not for the controversial Portland Timbers’ goal to tie it up.  He also made his penalty kick during the shootout as well, which helped the team to win it all.

When all is said and done, everything Moralez did on the pitch illuminates why he was a superstar, and is leaving as a club legend.  He helped bring three different trophies to the city, with the MLS Cup being the biggest one.  His hard work, dedication, and talent allowed him to be one the best to ever wear the New York City FC shirt.

Maxi Moralez leaves New York City FC as a legend

Nonetheless, New York City FC are losing a fantastic player, not just on the pitch, but off the pitch too.  Anyone who met him said he was kind, and was always willing to have a conversation.  Like Castellanos, Moralez always put the time in for the fans, and played for them.  It is sad that the supporters cannot give him the sendoff that he deserved, but hopefully one day he will return, and everyone can honor him. 

While fans knew this day would come, it does not soften the blow.  He is beloved by everyone, from those who work within the club, to the media, and those who cheer him on week in and week out.  He would always preach togetherness, and embodied a leadership role, despite not wearing the captain armband.  He will be missed tremendously, and Sporting Director David Lee highlighted all of that to

"It has been an absolute pleasure to have been able to get to know and work with Maxi. No one can deny the significant impact he’s had these past six seasons, he’ll always have legendary status at the Club and amongst our fans as he has given us so many fantastic memories. As well as his unbelievable skill, he has been a true professional since day one and a role model for our young players. Maxi has earned his place in the history of this Club. He will always be remembered in New York as an incredible player, whose presence and leadership were vital in us winning our first pieces of silverware. We understand it has always been Maxi’s dream to return to Argentina and know this has been an extremely difficult decision for him. He will be missed, but ultimately, we want what is best for him and his family."

David Lee

It is difficult to lose someone like Moralez, both as a player and a person.  He will be difficult to replace, and it would not be shocking if someone like him does not come around for many years.  But New York City FC will always have the memories of the Little Genius.  Those memories, the talent consistently displayed by Moralez, and the MLS Cup Championship have clearly elevated the Argentine to not only be a legend, but the best player in team history.