Maxi Moralez converted only four of eight penalty-kick attempts in 2019. (Photo courtesy of MLS)
By Michael Lewis
NEW YORK — We don’t know who will take the next penalty kick for New York City FC, but we do know who will make the decision — head coach Ronny Deila.
MLS Best XI midfielder Maxi Moralez was the No. 1 choice during the 2019 season, but he converted only half — 50 percent of his eight attempts. The conversion rate hovers around 75 or 80 percent. Jesus Medina took the only other PK last season, scoring on that one.
During NYCFC’s 5-3 triumph over AD San Carlos in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 series, Moralez had an opportunity to increase the lead two minutes into stoppage time, but goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton made a diving shot on his shot. Alexandru Mitrita slotted home the rebound for the final goal of the match.
“I don’t know what’s done before,” Deila said during NYCFC’s media day at adidas headquarters on Wednesday. “It’s something I decide, of course, who’s going to take the penalties.
“Maxi, he is a very important player for us. He’s a match winner. He has my trust in these situations. But of course, he has the pressure as well to score goals and he has to practice on it to get it right. But I’m sure the next one he will put in a goal.”
We could find out as early as Saturday as to who will take the next penalty for NYCFC, which plays at Toronto FC at 5 p.m.
Moralez enjoyed a stellar 2019 season, recording seven goals and 20 assists in 29 matches, becoming only the third player in league history to crack the 20-assist barrier. He joined Carlos Valderrama and Sacha Kljestan.