Mehdi Ballouchy, NYC FC midfielder, chats loving the subway and Central Park

Mehdi Ballouchy, formerly of the Red Bulls, is a midfielder with New York City FC.
Mehdi Ballouchy, formerly of the Red Bulls, is a midfielder with New York City FC. Photo Credit: Marisol Diaz

Moroccan-born veteran player Mehdi Ballouchy, in his second season with New York City FC, isn’t so new to town: He played for the New York Red Bulls from 2010-12.

The midfielder chatted with amNewYork about his thoughts on family, his pregame rituals and what he loves about his adopted hometown.

What is your favorite spot in the city?

Central Park

How do you like riding the subway?

Love it. [I] took my 3-month-old around the city on it last week.

What is a typical off-day like for you in the city?

Usually a stroll around Central Park, then some good food for dinner.

What does it mean to you to represent the city?

It’s an honor. There is no other city like New York. To be able to represent its people is the coolest thing about playing for NYCFC.

What is your favorite city restaurant?

Café Mogador

What is your favorite off-the-pitch memory of the city?

It’s where I met my wife.

What is your favorite New York team other than New York City FC?


How did you first start playing soccer?

It’s the most popular sport in Morocco, so when you first start walking you start kicking the ball around the house.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

“Life is too short. Make sure you are enjoying yourself every day.” — My dad.

What has been the most memorable moment of your soccer career?

Turning pro. It was nice to hear my name called in the SuperDraft after having put a tremendous amount of time kicking the ball around as a kid.

If you could give advice to fellow soccer players, what would you say?

Have fun. Everyone plays their best when having fun.

What are some of your non-soccer hobbies?

Swimming with my daughter.

Do you have any game day rituals?

Cold shower before the game.

What music do you enjoy listening to on game days?

Reggae to start and hip-hop as the game gets closer.

What is something NYCFC fans should know about you that they do not already?

I am very low key.