New York City FC welcomes back a familiar face as they begin their stretch run for an MLS Cup playoff berth against visiting Minnesota United on Sunday night.
Popular attacking midfielder Maxi Moralez, who helped lead the Pigeons to a 2021 MLS Cup victory over the Portland Timbers, returns to the club after making 23 appearances over a seven-month stint with his boyhood team, Racing Club, in Argentina.
"I'm coming home," Moralez, who had 26 goals and 69 assists in 162 regular-season games (149 starts) from 2017-22 with NYCFC, said. "This club and this city mean everything to me and my family. ... I'm happy to wear this jersey again."
The crafty Moralez is expected to provide a much-needed boost to NYCFC (5-8-11, 26 points), which began the weekend in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, four points below the playoff line.
New York City is just 1-6-8 in its last 15 MLS matches, including 0-2-3 at home. NYCFC hasn't played since losing a Hudson River Derby, 1-0, to the New York Red Bulls on Aug. 3 in the Leagues Cup Round of 32.
Minnesota United (7-8-7, 28 points), in 10th place in the Western Conference, last played on Aug. 11 they were drubbed, 5-0, at Nashville SC in the quarterfinals of the Leagues Cup. The contest was tied, 0-0, in the 34th minute when Loons defender D.J. Taylor picked up a red card. Nashville then blew the game open with five goals over the next 25 minutes.
This is Minnesota United's first road contest against NYCFC since June 2017 when they lost 3-1. New York City won the only meeting over the last four years, 1-0, in Saint Paul, Minn., in May 2022 and holds a 2-1-1 series edge.
"It's never easy against New York City and I don't think it will be any different this weekend," Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath said. "Moralez is back ... which will be a big boost for them. I'm a big admirer of him as a player, (he) makes things happen."
—Field Level Media