NYCFC's projected starting lineup against Santos De Guápiles FC

New York City FC v Portland Timbers
New York City FC v Portland Timbers / Andy Mead/ISI Photos/GettyImages

New York City Football Club has begun wrapping up their preseason training camp as they prepare for their upcoming CONCACAF Champions League match against Santos De Guápiles FC, which is less than a week away. As the game edges closer, the main question is who will be the 11 on the field to kick off the 2022 season? 

With the losses of James Sands, Jesus Medina, Gudmundor Thorarinsson, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and, Tony Rocha, who will fill the voids? Additionally, with the three attacking players drafted in the MLS Superdraft and with the new signing of Thiago Martins, how could the lineup change?

What formation should NYCFC use?


The 4-2-3-1 favored the Night Owls for their playoff run and for most of the regular season. Especially with their key striker Taty Castellanos set to return, it would seem illogical to change the attacking tactics. 


Taty Castellanos 

After offers from Premier clubs such as West Ham United, Castellanos will remain in New York at least for the near future. Castellanos is coming off a breakout season that finished with him winning the Golden Boot and an MLS Champion. The striker will look to pick up where he left off last season especially with familiar players playing below him. 

Center Attacking Midfielder 

Maxi Moralez 

At age 34, Moralez is still proving he has a valuable role for this team. In the MLS Cup game, Moralez provided the key assist to Castellanos to take the lead. Additionally, Moralez scored the tying goal in the Eastern Conference final against Philadelphia. Moralez controls the pace of the Night Owls attack and should continue to be entrusted to do so against Santos De Guápiles FC. 

Left Wing 

Santiago Rodriguez 

Rodriguez started every playoff game and has proven himself as an elite attacking player for this club. His key moment in the playoffs was against the New England Revolution where he scored a goal in the third minute, instilling belief in his team that the upset was certainly possible. 

Right Wing 

Talles Magno 

Magno played an essential role against Philadelphia by scoring the game-winning goal to send the Night Owls to the MLS cup. With Medina departing to CSKA Moscow, Magno and Thiago will look to fill the void on the right-wing. 

Center Midfielders 

Alfredo Morales and Nicolas Acevedo 

With the departure of James Sands and with Keaton Parks still recovering from his leg injury. The two best options at CM are Morales and Acevedo. Morales played an integral role over the second half of the season and started in all the playoff games. Alternatively, Acevedo did not make an appearance during the postseason but will be relied on early in the season. 

Right Back

Tayvon Gray

The 19-year-old replaced Anton Tinnerholm and played brilliantly all postseason. With Tinnerholm still injured, Gray will look to serve as the primary right back going into the CONCACAF Champions League fixture. Gray has demonstrated he can serve as a strong attacking back when provided a key assist against the New England Revolution. 

Left Back 

Malte Amundsen 

Last season the left-back role was rotated between Amundsen and Thorarinsson. Now that Thorarinsson has left the club, Amundsen will serve as the main left-back moving forward. Amundsen is primarily an attacking back and therefore needs to improve his defensive capabilities this season. 

Center Backs 

Alexander Callens and Maxime Chanot

Callens and Chanot were the backbones of this team during the playoffs. Additionally, Callens had an excellent international break with Peru where he helped earn a clean sheet in a 1-0 victory against Colombia. Despite the signing of defender Thiago Martins, relying on the defensive duo that won the club’s first silverware would make more sense. If Martins starts it would be in a back three alongside Callens and Chanot. 


Sean Johnson

Johnson produced two brilliant saves in the penalty shootout of the MLS Cup and was selected for the USMNT during the last international break. The Captain will continue to serve as a major influence on this team and throughout this season.