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Yangel Herrera's return gives big boost to New York City FC playoff push

The NYCFC midfielder has been out since May, when he injured his ankle against Houston, but will be on the pitch against D.C. United on Sunday.

Yangel Herrera, left, started 12 of the first

Yangel Herrera, left, started 12 of the first 13 games this season for NYCFC before the ankle injury. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Katharine Lotze

When New York City FC midfielder Yangel Herrera suffered a serious ankle injury after being slide-tackled early in City’s May 25 match at the Houston Dynamo, many thought that his season was over.

Five months later, Herrera is set to return to the lineup for the final two matches of the regular season.

“Obviously, it was a scary injury in Houston and unfortunate because I thought he was in a really good way,” goalkeeper Sean Johnson said at NYCFC’s mini-pitch opening in the South Bronx on Monday. “He’s a big part of what we have going on — obviously for the past year and a half. He’s really good for us, so to have all hands on deck going into the playoffs is really good for us.”

Herrera was initially ruled out for the remainder of the regular season but has recovered ahead of schedule from arthroscopic surgery and was removed from the club’s disabled list, making him eligible for NYCFC’s upcoming playoff run. He’s expected to get around 15 to 20 minutes in the club’s penultimate regular-season match Sunday at D.C. United.

“He provides something unique to us in midfield,” sporting director Claudio Reyna said at Monday’s event. “He’s really strong defensively, how much he covers, he’s also a really good link and can get to the box and score and be part of our attacking game as well.”

Since Herrera’s injury, NYCFC hasn’t found a consistent replacement to complement Alex Ring defensively in the midfield. His return brings a sense of physicality that City has missed throughout the majority of the season, one they hope to use going into the playoffs.

“We’ve missed him,” Ring said. “He’s a physical presence on the pitch. I hope he gets as many minutes as possible before the playoffs because we’re going to need him definitely.”

“He’s really strong defensively,” Reyna said, “how much he covers, he’s also a really good link and can get to the box and score and be part of our attacking game as well.”

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