When talking about New York City FC, everyone seems to focus the attention on players such as Alexander Ring, Valentin Castellanos, and star playmaker Maxi Moralez. Even Alexandru Mitrita and Ronald Matarrita are viewed as key members of the first-team squad. However, Heber Araujo dos Santos is still not getting nearly as much as recognition as he deserves.
The Brazilian forward has dealt with injuries during most of his career, and that was the case in the 2019 MLS season once again. He only made 22 appearances (18 starts) after dealing with muscular and quad injuries in the second half of the campaign. Despite this, he still managed to score 15 goals on 56 shots, while also adding four assists.
Putting things from another perspective, the 28-year-old scored 0.86 goals per 90 minutes during the 2019 regular-season. He ranked fourth in the league in the category, sitting behind only Carlos Vela (LAFC), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Los Angeles Galaxy) and Josef Martinez (Atlanta United).
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It’s hard to get that kind of productivity from an MLS striker, let alone a relatively cheap, unproven one like Heber. Maybe that’s why he never got the recognition he deserved, even when he was bagging goals for fun at Yankee Stadium. His 2020 campaign got off to a poor start, though, and he has yet to find the back of the net in three games, including the MLS Is Back Tournament opener against the Philadelphia Union last Thursday.
Make no mistakes about it, Moralez might create chances and Ring may patrol things in midfield, while Castellanos and Mitrita will be the ones in charge of creating spaces in the final third. Still, games are won by scoring goals and no one can do that better than Heber in the current NYCFC roster.
The Brazilian must rediscover his best form if NYCFC are going to make a deep run in the MLS Is Back Tournament. He is a game-changing player when he has it all clicking. NYCFC needs him to succeed and that’s why he should be player to watch for the Bronx-based franchise in the upcoming weeks.
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