Per Paul Tenorio of The Athletic, New York City FC are set to sign Keaton Parks on a permanent deal. The move is a wonderful consolidation after an excellent 2019.
It was the best regular season in New York City FC history. They topped the Eastern Conference for the first time, smashed 60 points for the first time, and were largely viewed as an elite team in all of Major League Soccer throughout the campaign.
Given that this excellent year came after they won just one of their first six games and endured a terrible end to the 2018 season following the departure of head coach Patrick Vieira midway through the year, it is quite telling just how relentlessly brilliant they were in the latter stages of 2019.
A crucial part of their excellent form throughout the second half of the season was the domination of their central midfield, especially the introduction of young Keaton Parks, who spent the entire year on loan from Benfica.
Parks made his first start for New York City FC on June 29th in a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Union, who were challenging at the sharp end of the East at the time. They then proceeded to lose just two games of the 14 games that he started.
Parks is obviously not the sole reason for NYCFC’s positive results when he was in the team. One player cannot make that much of a difference in a sport played with 11 players on each team. But Parks did play very strongly in these outings, an illustration of his terrific potential, which is why Benfica have invested in his talent.
But New York City FC are not one for letting productive, impactful and useful players walk out the door, and this week, Paul Tenorio of The Athletic reported that the young midfielder is set to return to New York on a permanent deal, with Benfica and NYCFC coming to a transfer agreement.
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While NYCFC have majorly pressing issues regarding the lack of a head coach after Dome Torrent resigned at the end of last season and the 2020 season is looming large with under two months to go, it is still a very positive move to see them consolidate the strength of the team that saw them enjoy such tremendous success last year.
Parks is likely set to play a key role as a marauding central midfielder in the heart of the NYCFC set-up. Alongside Alex Ring, he forms one of the most formidable midfield pairs. The duo are tasked with shielding that defence, which Parks substantially improved upon later in the year, while instigating attacks from deep that Maxi Moralez and co. could master in the final third.
New York were so brilliant last season because of the attacking foundation that Moralez and Heber could spring from. While their offensive contributions were phenomenal, they were afforded the freedom that other attacking players around the league were not because of the support from players like Parks.
There is still plenty of work to do for New York City FC, least of all the appointment of a new head coach. But re-signing Parks, this time on a permanent deal, is the perfect way to consolidate the success of last season. They now just need to press on.