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New York City FC signee Heber could have 'impact' against Montreal on Saturday

NYCFC has struggled to generate offense early in the 2019 MLS season, an issue the Brazilian striker could help to fix.

Heber, right, came to New York City FC

Heber, right, came to New York City FC last month from HNK Rijeka of Croatia. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Marco Luzzani

New York City FC needs a goal infusion. There’s a chance it’ll be a matter of minutes until it appears this weekend.

Brazilian striker Heber signed with NYCFC in late March and has been training this week after arriving, coach Domènec Torrent said. Torrent will take a wait-and-see approach on playing time with his new offensive asset Saturday against the Montreal Impact at Yankee Stadium.

“He’s had three or four training sessions.” Torrent said Wednesday. “We have two trainings more to see if he’s ready to play in the starting 11 or in the last 30-40 minutes.”

The Blues are tied fourth from the bottom of MLS in goals scored this season with four. While searching for an identity, they’ve gotten off to an 0-1-3 start including a 4-0 drubbing at Toronto FC on Friday.

“When these kind of players join us, it’s much better for the team,” Torrent said. “Everybody knows now in the training session that he’s a scorer. Our feeling is much better with him because he’s a different player right now for us.”

Heber scored 25 goals in 38 games for Croatia’s HNK Rijeka in 2017-18. He provides firepower for the attack that has been missing since the offseason departure of former MLS MVP and team captain David Villa. Alexandru Mitrita, who is more comfortable as a winger, has shouldered the burden. Heber could take that pressure off with those around him facilitating.

“[Heber] is a different style,” Torrent said. “They’re able to play a No. 9 typical and keep the ball. He attacks all the time behind them. If you need to keep the ball, he’s able to keep the ball as well. He’s an important player for us.”

NYCFC sits in 11th place in the Eastern Conference. Torrent chalked up Friday’s poor performance against Toronto to players enduring long travel days returning from international play and he didn’t expect it to happen again with or without Heber.

“I’m very happy this week because they’re training amazing,” Torrent said. “Because they know and I know what happened in Toronto. We’re not able to play that way for supporters, for our club, because we are New York City Football Club and New York City Football Club can lose a game but not in the same way we lost against Toronto.”

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