Why NYCFC needs Santiago Rodriguez to feature as the No. 10

NYCFC, santiago rodriguez
Oct 23, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; New York City midfielder Santiago Rodriguez (20) controls the ball during the second half against the CF Montreal during the conference semifinals for the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs at Stade Saputo. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

With the season only one week away, a few questions still need answers at NYCFC. Who do you start at goal? Will Talles Magno work as a No. 9? Will NYCFC make the playoffs?

These are all valid questions for the NYCFC fanbase. But perhaps, the biggest puzzle remains in midfield, as no clear successor to Maxi Moralez’s role has been found. Look no further than NYCFC’s preseason record as proof. The team recorded one win, three draws, and two losses in six games. Yes, one can argue that preseason is not the best metric to measure a team’s quality, but those draws scream a lack of game creation in midfield. 

Don’t get me wrong, Keaton Parks does play a key role in providing tempo when transitions take place, but as far as game creation goes, Santiago Rodriguez is the player that pulls the strings in that area. The numbers are there ( 32GP, 13A), so I’m sure that the results in preseason would have been different if he participated. I am aware, however, that those 13 assists didn’t exactly come while he was playing as a number 10. Tactically, I assure you that he symbolizes what a 10 usually did in my times as a kid.

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NYCFC would be far better with Santiago Rodriguez in the fold:

If you add Santiago’s ability to add himself to the attack, the team could play with four strikers. This, of course, is only a scenario to keep in mind once his return is made official. Although we must also keep in mind that taking on the No. 10 has heavy implications at NYCFC.

Taking on the legacy left by Maxi Moralez is no easy task for anyone who decides to wear the jersey. Maxi conquered NYC after helping the club win silverware.

The silent leader throughout his years at NYCFC left an unforgettable mark on the club. A blueprint that was left for Santiago to pick up whenever Maxi’s time was up. Honestly, I’m convinced that if he’s given enough time, he can become the club’s icon in the immediate future.

Just think about it, if he’s able to work on his flaws, we are a couple of games away from seeing him with the national team. I think that we can all agree that we would feel proud if we saw that happen.

Possibilities that are only one flight away from turning things around for NYCFC in a more favorable way. So, what are you waiting for, Santiago? Come back already.