Al-Ahli Saudi FC has the option to purchase Alexandru Mitrita’s contract at the end of the loan. (Photo courtesy of MLS)

Not only is Alexandru Mitrita is gone from New York City FC for this Major League Soccer season. He won’t be back until early 2022, if he returns.

NYCFC Thursday loaned him to to Al-Ahli Saudi FC until Jan. 31, 2022, pending the completion of a medical examination. The Saudi Arabian club has the option to purchase Mitriță at the end of the loan.

The loan opened both a Designated Player and international spot on the roster.

Mitrița traveled to Romania earlier this week, joining the national team for international duty. He was allowed to travel due to unique personal circumstances. Once his obligations to his country are over, Mitrița will join Al-Ahli for a medical.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted travel to the US from abroad. These restrictions have disrupted visits to and from players’ home countries, including Romania. Due to these restrictions, Mitrița’s wife, who is expecting their first child, returned to Romania earlier this year.

“It has been a very challenging time for me and my family,” Mitrita said in a statement. “My wife and I are expecting the birth of our first child in the coming weeks and she was not able to be with me in New York. I want to sincerely thank the club for allowing me the opportunity to play football and be with my family. From day one the support from our fans has been excellent and I want to send love to all of the supporters. I wish the club and my teammates all the best for the rest of the season.”

Mitrita had just turned the corner after a dreadful start to the COVID-19 marred season. He had tallied three goals in his his last two matches before he left for international duty. Mitrita totalled four goals and two assists in 12 MLS matches this season.

“Due to Mitri’s personal circumstances during this pandemic, we felt it was the best move for all parties at this time to loan him to Al-Ahli,” sporting director David Lee said in a statement. “He’s certainly a player we believe in and has helped us win football matches in the past 18 months. We do not know how long these travel restrictions will last, so from a human perspective, we wanted to respect his wishes to be closer to his family.

“Due to New York State Guidelines and MLS protocol, Mitri would have been subject to mandatory quarantines following returns from the October FIFA window as well as a likely November FIFA window.

“Given the current fixture list, he would have missed the majority of NYCFC’s remaining 2020 regular season matches as well as a number of potential playoff games. This loan allows Mitriță to continue playing competitive football while also attending to family matters which we know are a priority for him.

“We are extremely confident in the roster of players we have and are on a fantastic run of form at the moment. Our aim as always will be to challenge for the MLS Cup and we certainly believe we have a group of players and a coaching staff that can do this.”

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at