The past season was a difficult one for New York City Football Club. This was perhaps reflected best by Hudson River Blue’s NYCFC Player Ratings, which gave fans the opportunity to rate each player’s performances on a 0-10 scale after every match.
When we launched this weekly project, we envisioned celebrating our favorite New York City stars after dazzling performances, stunning goals, and famous wins. Instead, we found ourselves consistently reminded just how frustrating this side was from March through October.
But it wasn’t all bad for NYCFC’s rotating 2023 cast. Alongside those 14 draws and 11 losses were 9 wins. There were some bright moments, some exciting introductions, and evolving narratives as this young side tried to grow into itself over the course of the year.
The result? Twenty-nine players featured over the course of this 2023 season. Read on and you will find your 2023 NYCFC Player Ratings.
NYCFC Players: Attackers
Talles Magno – 5.3
20 Starts, 30 Appearances Talles Magno had a rough year. Period.
Before the season started, I pegged the young Brazilian to be NYCFC’s talisman. Unfortunately, after being pigeonholed into a center-forward role for the front half of the season and failing to make an impact, he was dropped to the bench for weeks on end, rarely appearing for his side.
The silver lining, however, was how much better he looked once he was playing in his more natural position of left-wing — especially alongside Bakrar at center forward for the last few games of the season.
Once Talles Magno had a true number nine to play off of, he looked his usual creative, fun-loving, jogo bonito self on the field and in the locker room. That’s the Talles I’m dying to see in 2024…if he hangs around?
Talles Magno finished the season with 4 goals and 3 assists in all comps, and earned a season-long FotMob rating of 6.9.
Mounsef Bakrar – 6.0
10 Starts, 10 Appearances After a lengthy wait, NYCFC finally landed a true number nine in the summer transfer window, bringing in Mounsef Bakrar from NK Instra for a reported fee of $2 million.
Overall, the striker tucked home 4 goals in 13 appearances across all competitions. It’s not an incredible output, but there’s no doubt Bakrar made this team better. He gave us desperately needed vertical options with his willingness to run in behind, and his athleticism and ability to read the game consistently put Mounsef in good places to score, while opening up dangerous space for his teammates to operate.
But his finishing left something to be desired, and is probably responsible for his HRB rating falling at just 6.0. He finished with an average FotMob rating of 6.7 in MLS Play.
Gabriel Pereira – 6.5
18 Starts, 22 Appearances I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to say Gabriel Pereira was our best player before his July sale to Al-Rayyan in Qatar.
While NYCFC received a reported $10M fee for the skilled winger, it hurt to see such a talented player walk mid-season in what felt like something of a punt on the 2023 campaign from the front office.
He finished 2023 as NYCFC’s highest scorer with 6 goals, which is as impressive as it is sad.
The only thing that makes up for such a loss is the fact that his replacement, Julián Fernández, looks to be quite the baller. But while talented, he’s got big shoes to fill in replacing someone like Pereira.
Matías Pellegrini – 4.7
14 Starts, 24 Appearances Another player bidding adieu following this season is attacker Matías Pellegrini.
Joining NYCFC late in 2022 as a waiver pickup, the former DP for Inter Miami had little time to find his feet in his debut season with New York City. Going into 2023, I had decently high hopes for the Argentinian. The winger saw plenty of minutes from Nick Cushing early on in the campaign, and was praised for his defensive abilities and impressive work rate.
But, as winger in an NYCFC side that was really struggling to score goals, his lack of creativity or clinical finishing proved frustrating for NYCFC fans. In the end, his HRB rating of just 4.7 is the lowest for any player at the club. He finished his MLS season with a Fotmob rating of 6.6.
That tells you everything you need to know. It just didn’t work out for Matí at NYCFC.
Andres Jasson – 5.4
9 Starts, 20 Appearances Andres Jasson ended his 2023 season in what I would consider to be the best form of his young career.
The homegrown saw his role grow following the departure of Gabriel Pereira mid-season, making the right wing position his own for a string of games down the stretch. Jasson set personal records for appearances, starts, minutes, and goals on the year, and looked a more complete player than he has in years past.
He’s always been good at progressing play, but he was taking players on with a new level of confidence in 2023, and looked a genuine goal threat towards the end of the season. He’ll be one to watch in 2024.
FotMob gave Andres a 6.8 on the year.
Gabriel Segal – 5.8
4 Starts, 10 Appearances Gabe Segal was a surprise inclusion in NYCFC’s storyline in 2023, but he definitely played a big role in his short time at the club this year.
Launching into action seemingly out of nowhere on April 1st in a surprise start vs New England, Gabe served as a capable center forward option for Nick Cushing until he was loaned out to Hapoel Tel Aviv in September.
Scoring two goals in four starts, and without a true center forward on the roster for most of the season, many fans (including myself) were calling for more minutes from a player we hardly expected to feature this season. He worked hard, he pressed well, made good runs, and scored two huge, late goals for NYCFC against Orlando and Columbus.
Did I think he was game-changing? Not quite. but was he solid in a pinch? Absolutely.
Julián Fernández – 5.9
2 Starts, 9 Appearances It was a late arrival in New York for Julián Fernández, who made his NYCFC debut on August 21st after signing from Club Atlético Vélez Sarsfield in Argentina mid-summer. But, it didn’t take long for the winger to show his quality.
Julián brings speed, directness, and flair from the right flank, and served as an impressive replacement to the beloved Gabriel Pereira, who departed midseason. While we got a taste of his abilities in 2023, I can’t wait to see what a full season of Julián will look like in 2024.
I have high, high hopes. Fernández bagged two goals in 9 appearances for NYCFC in MLS play, and found a FotMob score of 6.9 along the way.
Alonso Martínez – 6.6
0 Starts, 3 Appearances Alonso Martínez signed from Belgian side Lommel SK in the summer transfer window, and featured sparsely for the Boys in Blue through the end of the season. Ultimately, he made 3 appearances for a grand total of 30 minutes of play this year, so we’ll have to wait until next year to see what the Costa Rican is really made of.
FotMob gave a 5.8 rating for the minutes he saw.
Thiago – 5.9
2 Starts, 4 Appearances I was frustrated when NYCFC loaned Thiago to Brazilian side Athletico Paranaense back in April.
For a side that was struggling to score goals, I still can’t understand how we let a direct, channel-running goal-scorer like Andrade walk for nothing in return. Come to think of it, I’m still frustrated with that move…
He’s set to return to NYCFC at the end of the year, but the club’s plans for the player remain unclear.
NYCFC Players: Midfielders
Santiago Rodríguez – 6.2
28 Starts, 31 Appearances Santi was brought back on a Designated Player contract for 2023 after his loan to NYCFC expired. While he certainly had bright spots and demonstrated his quality fairly consistently through the year, he didn’t quite put this team on his back the way I expected of DP.
He finished the season with 7 goals and 6 assists in all competitions, making him the only NYCFC player to finish with double-digit goal involvements on the year. That’s not bad output, but compared to his 7 goals and 16 assists in all comps last year, it certainly feels like a step back.
Impressively, the Uruguayan appeared in all but three MLS matches for this NYCFC side, and earned an average FotMob rating of 7.2.
Richy Ledezma – 5.5
14 Starts, 23 Appearances Richy Ledezma joined NYCFC on loan from PSV Eindhoven in the lead-up to the 2023 season, and served as a versatile attacking option for the Pigeons.
He featured on the wing, at the No 10 role, in a No 8 role, and even as a False 9 in the striker-less era before the signing of Bakrar. Overall, he looked impressive at times, but we saw diminishing returns as the season went on,
The American finished the season with 4 assists, and a FotMob rating of 6.6.
Maxi Moralez – 6.9
4 Starts, 4 Appearances It was a short-lived homecoming for NYCFC legend Maxi Moralez, who returned from Racing Club for just four brief matches before tearing his ACL against Vancouver on September 2nd.
The long-term injury halted the feel-good story before it could be properly told in 2023, but there is some hope for the little genius in 2024, who could return next season with another year left in his deal. How effective the 37-year-old midfielder will be coming off an ACL tear next year is yet to be seen
But hey, class is permanent. Here’s to getting healthy, Maxi! He earned an impressive average of 7.5 on FotMob for his four matches in MLS play in 2023.
Keaton Parks – 6.0
30 Starts, 32 Appearances It was a big year for Keaton Parks, who returned from his second blood clot procedure after missing time in 2021 and 2022.
From a health perspective alone, seeing Keaton out there for a full season was great news for him and NYCFC fans alike. From an on-field perspective, Keaton was his usual creative self. He served as the main source of ball progression in the midfield, and was dictating the tempo in pretty much any match where NYCFC had control of possession. In addition, he led the team in starts and appearances.
The one thing lacking? Output.
At the beginning of the season, I remember Nick Cushing talking about how adding goals to Keaton’s game would be huge for the American’s development, and for the team’s performance. But, he ended the 2023 season with just 2 goals and 2 assists.
FotMob gave him a season-long score of 7.1, which puts him among the highest of any NYCFC player in 2023.
Andrés Perea – 6.6
8 Starts, 10 Appearances Boy, do I hope this guy will stick around in 2024.
After signing in somewhat of a head-scratching, short-term, late-season loan from rival Philadelphia Union, I wasn’t quite sure what the plan was for the midfielder.
Given the time of his signing and the fact that NYCFC missed the playoffs, it ended up being just a 10-match loan for Perea. But wow, was he impressive for those 10 games.
He plays with a freedom and simplicity that just makes the game look easy to him. He drives forward with confidence on the ball, but rarely gets caught out defensively. He’s athletic, intelligent, effective, and unfortunately, returning to the Union for 2024.
FotMob gave Perea a 6.9 for his time in New York.
James Sands – 6.1
25 Starts, 26 Appearances When he’s playing his best, you hardly notice him.
James Sands does the dirty work that allows players like Keaton, Santi, and Richy to do what they do best: Create and attack.
At his peak, he looks NYCFC’s most composed player in and out of possession, offering the ability to break up play on the defensive side, and build out of pressure deep in his own half. But towards the end of the season, he didn’t quite take games by the scruff of the neck like I had expected him to.
He didn’t have poor performances, but given the relative lack of experience around him on this 2023 side, we needed him to be immense. Whether or not that’s fair to expect that of the 23-year-old is debatable. FotMob gave the homegrown an impressive 7.1 on the year.
Alfredo Morales – 5.5
11 Starts, 22 Appearances Per NYCFC’s recent roster announcements, Alfredo Morales’s time in New York has come to an end.
Alfredo was a true servant of the club, and was integral to New York City’s MLS Cup run in 2021, serving as an experienced anchor in the midfield alongside the youthful James Sands.
It was clear Morales had slowed down a bit in 2023, but he still boasted sound technical quality, and proved a valuable rotational piece for Cushing when other midfielders were unavailable. All told, he racked up 22 appearances in MLS play through 11 starts, and tallied a season-long FotMob score of 6.5.
Congrats on a great NYCFC career, Alfredo!
Justin Haak – 6.0
10 Starts, 14 Appearances It was something of a breakout season for Justin Haak in my eyes, who saw significant minutes for a pocket of games as NYCFC tinkered around with different lineups and formations in search of better form.
This saw Justin play solid minutes in his more natural position of central midfield, but also for an extended period at left center back when Cushing was rolling out a back-three. In his time on the pitch, I thought he demonstrated an impressive combination of technical quality and physical presence.
But, after City reverted to the back-four, and brought Perea in on loan, minutes for Haak became few and far between. In 2024, I’m hoping he can get back on the field and build the quality he demonstrated this season.
FotMob gave Justin a 6.9 for his 14 matches played in MLS.
NYCFC Players: Defenders
Thiago Martins – 6.1
24 Starts, 26 Appearances You can scoff at the DP contract all you want, but I think Thiago Martins is NYCFC’s best defender at this point in time.
While he’s still not 100% error-proof, he’s a true presence in our back line whenever he plays. He’s a natural leader. His athleticism can be game-breaking at times for opponents, possessing the speed to track down quick wingers who have slipped in behind, and the strength to go toe-to-toe with even the most physical of target forwards.
Did he have a couple of rough games along the way? Yes, I think that’d be fair to say. But, may your praise be as loud as your criticism, because there were plenty of matches in which Thiago Martins kept us in the contest. Fotmob gave the Brazilian a 6.9 on the season.
Birk Risa – 6.3
10 Starts, 10 Appearances From a strictly aesthetic perspective, a ball-playing left-footed center back is about as easy on the eyes as it gets. It’s not always said about central defenders, but Birk Risa is truly fun to watch.
His passing range is impressive, and on a small Yankee Stadium or Citi Field pitch, it’s borderline overpowering. He picked out right-wingers with cross-field pings like it was nothing.
Defensively, he looked solid in his own right. He doesn’t bring the same physicality as a Maxime Chanot or an Alex Callens, but he finds ways to get it done out there, and certainly doesn’t shy away from a challenge.
He had one or two high-profile mistakes which he’ll be looking to clean up going into next year, but overall I’m really excited for Risa in 2024. FotMob gave the Norwegian a 6.8 for his 10 games in MLS.
Maxime Chanot – 6.6
19 Starts, 19 Appearances It was a difficult, and in some ways, an awkward goodbye for Maxime Chanot as he departed NYCFC in August to join Ligue 2 side, AC Ajaccio.
Maxime is an absolute legend of the club. He was a leader on and off the field, and ushered his club from an era of inexperience to an era of relative dominance. He brought a rare combination of technicality and tenacity to an NYCFC defense for eight impressive seasons, and was huge for us in our MLS Cup run in 2021.
This season, Maxime was still a high-level center-back before his transfer. The 33-year-old was athletic enough to run with the best of attackers, and experienced enough to avoid major mistakes.
While I am a big fan of both Birk Risa and Thiago Martins, I think Chanot will be sorely missed in 2024.
Tayvon Gray – 5.3
24 Starts, 28 Appearances Tayvon Gray is a true professional.
For someone just 21 years of age, it feels a bit odd that he’s one of the most experienced heads in this locker room. But, with 81 NYCFC appearances under his belt already, and with his first senior call-ups to the Jamaican National Team this year, Gray brings a level of know-how usually reserved for veterans.
With the signing of the talented (and somehow even younger) Mitja Ilenič, I had some questions as to what Tayvon’s role would be this season. But, as the season went on, Cushing ultimately went with the guy he trusted most, and that was the capable Tayvon.
FotMob gave the defender a season-long score of 6.9.
Mitja Ilenič – 6.0
14 Starts, 24 Appearances Mitja Ilenič had an odd season in his first year with NYCFC. Coming in at the crazy young age of 18, he set pretty high expectations for himself with a handful of impressive performances right out of the gate.
For a moment there, I was expecting him to take the starting RB spot from the more established Tayvon Gray.
But, as the season dragged on and as results continued to go against us, Cushing opted for Tayvon more and more often in the hopes of shoring things up with players he could better rely on.
But Mitja is one for the future, and I’m projecting a big leap from him in 2024. FotMob gave the Slovenian youth international a 6.7.
Braian Cufré – 5.8
22 Starts, 25 Appearances Braian Cufré is clearly a very talented footballer.
His technique was as good as anyone’s in this 2023 squad, and he has a wand of a left foot. But, my criticism of Cufré all year was that he didn’t always make the most of that superior technical quality.
In some of NYCFC’s best seasons, we had tangible attacking threats from the fullback position. For many years that came in the form of Anton Tinnerholm or Ronald Matarrita, players who would bomb forward first and ask questions later.
But, given the inexperience of Mitja, and the defensive-mindedness of Gray, Cufré had to be our attacking option to offer us consistent threat down the touchline. Yes, he got forward at times, but it was hardly the City Football Group-style overlapping onslaught we’ve grown used to.
Braian is departing this NYCFC side as his loan comes to an end, and will return to his parent club of Mallorca in Spain. FotMob gave the Argentinian a 7.1 on the season.
Kevin O’Toole – 5.3
13 Starts, 20 Appearances Much like 2023, O’Toole saw limited minutes for the majority of the season before getting launched into the starting lineup for the biggest matches of the year come crunch time.
Despite Cufré acting as the starting left back for most of the season, O’Toole started in the last five “must-win” matches down the stretch in the hunt for the playoffs. With Cufré going back to Mallorca following the expiry of his loan, and with Kevin’s extension being picked up by NYCFC, O’Toole could be poised for even bigger things in 2024.
FotMob gave the attacking fullback a 6.7
Stephen Turnbull – 5.3
5 Starts, 11 Appearances Stephen Turnbull is another name departing NYCFC this season, with the club declining his option for 2024.
Stephen served as a rotational option at wing-back when Cushing ran the back-five, as he racked up five starts a six substitute appearances on the year.
We wish Turnbull all the best wherever his career takes him next! FotMob gave the American a 6.1 for his MLS minutes.
Tony Alfaro – 5.2
2 Starts, 6 Appearances Tony Alfaro’s NYCFC career was short-lived. He arrived from DC United ahead of the 2023 season before departing for the LA Galaxy in July for $500,000 in General Allocation Money.
Nicholas Benalcazar – 5.7
0 Starts, 1 Appearance Nico Benalcazar will also be departing NYCFC after his 2024 option was declined by the club. He made one appearance for City in 2023, tallying 9 minutes against Montreal on June 1st. We wish him all the best!
NYCFC Players: Goalkeepers
Luis Barraza – 5.6
24 Starts, 24 Appearances I can only imagine the thoughts banging around Luis Barraza’s mind at this point in his career.
At the beginning of the season, Cushing left the position battle with Matt Freese open-ended. Despite the decent fee spent to bring Freese through the door, Luis established himself as NYCFC’s No 1 early on to mixed reviews from the fans
At first, I was a strong supporter of Barraza and his game. I really liked how comfortable he was with the ball at his feet, and thought he demonstrated good poise under pressure with his decision-making.
But, as Freese became Cushing’s starter of choice at the end of the season, I was reminded how vital a big-time shot-stopper can be for a struggling side. While Barraza is still a solid ‘keeper in my mind, he just isn’t as good as Freese.
At the end of the day, a goalkeeper’s job is to keep the ball out of the net. FotMob gave Barraza a 6.6 rating.
Matt Freese – 7.0
10 Starts, 10 Appearances If you want an indication of which goalkeeper the NYCFC fans preferred, Matt Freese finished the season with the highest HRB player rating of any player.
Not just goalkeepers, but all players. The people love Matty Ice.
And who can blame them? He made big-time save after big-time save in the most important stretch of NYCFC’s season. It was all for naught in the end with New York City missing the playoffs, but
The Iceman was a big reason why we even had a chance come decision day. FotMob gave the net-minder a 6.8 through his 10 MLS starts.
Nick Cushing – 4.6
It was a difficult campaign for Nick Cushing.
I still believe that parts of this season were doomed from the start with the departures of key talent and experience in the offseason. But, I’d be naive to say that sporting director David Lee bears total responsibility for this team missing the playoffs.
Even though this side was ridiculously young, it was talented enough to win more than nine matches this season. And, as over-simplified as it may seem, that was the biggest problem this side had: Winning football games.
They didn’t have a problem playing pretty soccer, creating chances, or shutting down opponent’s attacks. Heck, they didn’t have a problem with outplaying their opponents. Per FBRef they had the seventh-highest expected goal differential in the entire league despite finishing 22nd overall.
Stats like that tell me it wasn’t always a quality issue, but rather an issue with mentality. And while it’s easy to credit that lack of mental sharpness to youthfulness, it’s ultimately the responsibility of the head coach to cultivate a winning mentality.