On Monday, New York City FC announced that the club signed defender, Stephen Turnbull, to a first team contract. The right-back spent the entirety of last year with NYCFC II, and will likely still see time with the MLS Next Pro Side this year.
NYCFC makes right move with signing of Stephen Turnbull
However, this move give the Pigeons the flexibility at the right-back position, especially in the case of international duty for Mitja Ilenič. It also offers cover in the case of injury too. There were times in 2022 where both Anton Tinnerholm and Tayvon Gray were not available, and non-right-backs had to play in an unfamiliar position. Hence, having the three right-backs will ensure that will not be the case.
Plus, the 25 year old is continuing his development, and might be considered an option down the line. At the same time, the club is ensuring there is a back-up throughout the year, for Turnbull already had to be called up to the first team. Per Major League Soccer, a MLS Next Pro player can only be called up for short term loan leases four times, and can make a maximum of two appearances.
So far in 2023, Turnbull was available off the bench for three MLS games, and made two substitute appearances. As such, the team was out of short-term loan options, and the move to sign him to the first team allows for him to be readily available.
The contract is for 2023, but there are options for 2024 and 2025. More importantly, this is the first time NYCFC has signed someone from NYCFC II, which means the MLS Next Pro team can aid in the development of players, and eventually those players can make the jump to MLS. Sporting Director, David Lee, expressed just that:
"With Stephen becoming the first NYCFC II player to sign a First Team contract, it’s a huge testament to MLS NEXT Pro and our competitive player pathway to develop talent that is ready to compete and contribute to the First Team. Stephen is an excellent example of attracting local talent into our ranks and helping them progress their career to play a significant role at the Club. We look forward to seeing Stephen’s continued progression and development with the First Team."- David Lee
New York City FC made the right move with the signing of Turnbull. It gives the peace of mind with the right-back position throughout 2023, and it will allow the new signing to have more experience in MLS.