New York City FC is less than a week away from resuming the Major League Soccer season. The team had a few weeks off after they were eliminated from the Leagues Cup. The remaining MLS sides in the tournament will likely have their schedules adjusted for the third-place match and finals this upcoming weekend. However, most of the other teams, including the Pigeons, will play on Sunday.
At this time, NYCFC sits in 13th place in the Eastern Conference. There is a lot of pressure on the team to find a way and make the playoffs. There were multiple summer signings made that should help, but in all likelihood, it is too late. The Bronx side will need a miracle.
The players will give it their all though. A lot is riding on the final ten games, regardless of the outcome this year. Some will be playing to remain on the team for 2024. Some will try and lead the Pigeons to the playoffs. Others will play to solidify a spot in the Starting XI.
So, here are three NYCFC players to watch for the rest of the MLS Season.
Three NYCFC players to watch for the rest of 2023
1. Talles Magno
If there is one player that must fight for a starting role with New York City FC, then it is Talles Magno. The Brazilian has been plagued with misfortune over the last year. He has been played out of position, stunting his development both as an individual and with the club.
Now, the team has a striker with the recent acquisition of Mounsef Bakrar. This should guarantee that any playing time from Magno will see him as the left-winger. It will be intriguing to see whether the addition of Bakrar will allow the Designated Player to improve his play and impact the game.
Although, NYCFC also brought Maxi Moralez back. If the legend is good to start, then likely Santiago Rodríguez will start as the left-winger. This could lead to a lack of playing time for Magno and hurt his development further. He is someone to watch for not only how he will play in the final matches, but also whether he is utilized enough.
2. James Sands
James Sands has been a bright light in an otherwise dark NYCFC season. There have been games where the team played well but failed to earn all three points. The midfielder has been one of the players that have been consistent for most of the year.
Therefore, he should be watched to see whether he can continue his solid play. Will he continue to make the needed interventions on the pitch? Will he help lock down the defense to ensure silly mistakes do not lead to goals? Will he wear the captain’s armband, or will Maxime Chanot take on the role for the rest of the year?
These are all questions that will be answered by the end of 2023. Sands must continue to be one of the best defensive midfielders in MLS; he has been an impact player on the defensive end.
3. Mounsef Bakrar
The new striker already has a goal after three appearances and two starts with NYCFC. He plays as a striker should, making himself available for passes in the front and center. In addition, he is a threat in the box and can take shots at goal.
Bakrar is not afraid to roam in the attack as well. He is not afraid to look for his teammates so they can take their chances. More importantly, he helps out on the defense too. The striker will chase down players and attempt to regain possession.
Based on the eye test, Bakrar is everything that the Pigeons need. The question remains: will he be the influential player that completely changes the season? With ten games to go, it is expected he will score a few more goals to his name as he continues to adjust to life in MLS. The Algerian should be watched closely, for the hype surrounding him is there.
New York City FC brought Bakrar in to score goals. Hopefully, that will be the case, and he will help the rest of the team find the goal-scoring boots for the remainder of the season.