The adjustment between leagues and continents can be challenging in soccer. Alexandru Mitrita has been finding that out since leaving Romania to play for New York City FC.
However, with every challenge comes an opportunity for growth. That potential remains for the designated player who has struggled with injuries of late.
“I think he’s still getting acclimated,” goalkeeper Sean Johnson said earlier this season. “He’s a talented player with the ball at his feet. He’s a player who’s comfortable with his back to goal as well as facing goal, so he’s an important piece to what we have.”
Mitrita hasn’t played substantial minutes since April 21, when he scored his last of two goals this season. He could return when NYCFC (3-1-6) travels to face the LA Galaxy (7-3-1) on Saturday.
He’s also faded into the background of the attack after averaging 6.3 shots in his first three games. That’s not necessarily a negative, though. Most comfortable as a winger, Mitrita had a chance to integrate more naturally into the offense when the team signed striker Heber.
“It’s amazing what the kid can do with the ball, how dynamic he is,” team captain Alexander Ring said. “He’ll need a little bit of time to come into MLS, but I think the fans, they’re going to love him for sure.”
The importance of development isn’t lost on Mitrita. He said that was a big reason he wanted to come to NYCFC. He credited coach Domènec Torrent’s experience in Spanish soccer for catching his attention.
“It’s a big step in my career,” Mitrita said. “It’s a good team, a big team with a good coach. I have a lot of things to learn from my coach. I’d say it’s a big step in my life.”
Torrent showed his favor toward the versatility of players like Mitrita this week. NYCFC traded fellow forward Jonathan Lewis to the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday for targeted allocation money and a 2020 international spot. The move shows the team’s dedication to Mitrita fitting into the offense.
“He has a platform to really show his quality in the club like this,” Johnson said. “And hopefully we can do our best to get him where he needs to be.”