When David Villa, the first player New York City FC signed and the club’s only captain for its first four seasons, left this offseason to play in Japan, he took an average of 19 goals per season and top designated player dollars with him.
A young Romanian forward is here to fill the void.
Alexandru Mitriță, at 24 years old and 5-foot-5, signed on as NYCFC’s third designated player earlier this month. He reportedly commanded an $8.5 million transfer fee – the third-largest in MLS history. With that sum comes versatility. Mitriță is a quick-moving athlete who can play multiple positions between the front line and midfield.
“I know this is a good group and I’m going to a club where young players can develop and grow,” Mitriță said in a statement from the team when his signing was announced early last month. “The team has a very good coach who has experience with lots of great clubs in Europe.”
Blues head coach Domènec Torrent chose Mitriță for his versatility and ability to attack from the wing. That may come as a surprise for soccer fans used to a star striker standing alone at the top of a formation. However, on this team, Mitriță fits into a 4-3-3 system and style. Playing as a winger, he scored 12 goals in 16 league appearances during the 2018-19 campaign in Romania’s Liga I for Universitatea Craiova.
“Alexandru has had a great year in Romania where he’s scored lots of goals and has been very dangerous in the attacking play and in 1 v 1 situations,” Torrent said in the team announcement of Mitriță’s acquisition.
Mitriță will likely line up with the Blues’ top returning scorer, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, and Jesus Medina. Maxi Moralez will also find his way up the pitch, combining his goal-scoring abilities (8 in 2018) with his facilitation (16 assists) as a top midfielder.
With those contributors around him, Mitriță could reach the lofty expectations put on him after a heralded New York entrance.