Alexandru Mitrita (right) battles for the battle against Inter Miami’s Victor Ullo. (Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
New York City FC lost its hottest player for the next three games.
Forward Alexandru Mitrita, who has scored three goals in the last two matches, will play for the Romanian national team during the FIFA window from Monday through Oct. 14.
NYCFC announced Monday that it allowed Mitirta to travel for international duty and to take care of a personal matter.
Translated: Mitrita won’t be available for Wednesday night’s home game against D.C. United at Yankee Stadium, Sunday’s encounter with the New England Revolution at the stadium and the Wednesday, Oct. 14 road match at Orlando City SC.
Mitrita and Anton Tinnerholm are tied for the City scoring lead with four goals apiece.
Defenders Tinnerholm and Maxime Chanot were not released for the October window after discussions with each player’s federation. NYCFC also declined center back Alexander Callens’ call-up by the Peruvian national team for World Cup qualifiers Oct. 8 and 13.
“The timing of this FIFA window, given the COVID-19 pandemic, has been incredibly challenging to navigate,” NYCFC sporting director David Lee said in a statement. “We know how important it is to our players to represent their countries and so these decisions were difficult.
“We believe it is in the best interests of players’ health and safety to avoid international travel at this time and maintain Major League Soccer’s strict protocols. It is with that in mind that Alex, Anton and Maxime have not joined their national teams.
“Mitri was allowed to travel as he had unique circumstances that meant he needed to attend a personal matter.”
Recently, FIFA updated its guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which allow teams to deny the release of a player when there is a government-mandated quarantine of five or more days upon return from international travel.
New York mandates a 14-day quarantine upon travel from the respected nations featured in this international window. MLS also implements a 10-day mandatory quarantine period for any players who return from international travel where they are only permitted to undergo individual training.