NYCFC midfielder Keaton Parks is confident after a preseason training session in Indio, California.
“Personally, I feel great,” Parks said. athletic“I’m definitely making progress day by day, week after week, game after game, so that’s great for me personally.”
That alone is newsworthy. His 2022 for Parkes was his second consecutive season in which the former Benfica midfielder missed time due to a blood clot, this time a team regular missing almost half of his season.
His first setback came late in the 2021 season. He needed surgery to remove a clot from the popliteal artery in his right lower extremity. Parkes had by then made 31 appearances and in central midfield he had four goals and three assists. He missed the rest of the season, including his MLS Cup win for NYCFC.
He returned in time for the 2022 preseason, but showed no dip in form. By late June, he had scored two goals and added two assists in 14 appearances, matching or even surpassing his previous season’s output. was broken. Another blood clot was identified and required the same procedure in the same artery.The second diagnosis was a huge mental hurdle as I had just worked to do my best half a year ago.
“I think it was harder,” Parks said. For the first time, it was something I had to deal with. Take out just this random blood clot, deal with it, and rehabilitate it back. The second time definitely hit me harder and made me less confident in my ability to come back.
Parks played a bit to close out the 2022 season, but his recovery continues.
“It’s important that he keeps working,” said NYCFC head coach Nick Cushing. “We have to be patient with him. We have to make sure he can go back to Keaton.”
All indications are that the 25-year-old is making big strides this time around and will likely be a key part of a team with title ambitions. Once his playing situation returns to normal, he may also be asked to take on another role in the heavily modified locker room.
Four more players left the MLS Cup 2021-winning line-up this offseason, leaving just three players from that win just 14 months later. I have another manager. Nick Cushing made his first preseason as permanent boss after serving as interim boss after Ronnie Deira won Standard Liege in June.
In retrospect, Parks feels the mass exits came out of nowhere after last year’s Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Philadelphia Union.
“I couldn’t see it from where I was standing,” Parkes said. “I had heard that people’s contracts were going to end and that could always be the case, but in that moment everyone was there and present…we all sat there watching them celebrate. I think that’s what motivated us to go into the offseason.”
Every player on a title-level team is important, but the headliners played a particularly important role among New York City’s exits. Goalkeeper and captain Sean Johnson chose to leave free agency and join Toronto FC. Anton Tinnerholm returned to MälmoFF in Sweden after he spent five seasons as a starting member of the club. Alexander Karens has joined Girona on a free transfer after last season he was an MLS Defender of the Year finalist. Meanwhile, longtime playmaker Maximiliano Morales has returned to his native Argentina with his racing club.Uruguayan attacking midfielder Santiago Rodríguez’s 18-month loan has ended, but NYCFC working to bring him back in the end.
“I think it makes sense in terms of the evolution of the team,” Cushing said. “We are very successful and the nature of our league is such that it is structured in such a way that we do not allow teams to dominate for long periods of time. is a person.”
Within the locker room, the departures of leaders like Johnson, Karens and Morales in particular leave voids for the returning cast to fill.
“Yeah, it’s definitely an adjustment period,” Parks said. “I mean, they’ve been here for as many years as I have, or more, so it’s weird seeing new people in the locker room and trying to grow the chemistry. But me, Maxime and Alfredo , to really step into that leadership role.Our work is to bring together all the chemistry and all the friendships that have been so strong over the last five years to create what it once was. That’s it.”
Once he becomes fully involved, Parkes will play an important role as a box-to-box option in the team’s engine room. The midfielder, who earned his only cap for the United States in a friendly against Bolivia in 2018, has a well-rounded skill set that eventually saw him rejoin as a regular starter. Tenure benefits are added as well.
“He’s got box-to-box energy and can dominate the pitch,” Cushing said. “He’s balanced in his profile in the sense that he can get the ball back and he’s really good defensively. He has technique and he can add goals, so that’s really important for us. I’m a player.”
In a preseason 3–3 draw against expansion at St. Louis City SC, Cushing liked a lot of what he saw in a heavily rotated team (although, to be fair, early in the season he lost his almost every team that has hit the field in the last few years). Goalkeeper Luis Barraça and homegrown right-back Tyvon Gray are two players who could benefit from greater credibility to get off to a start with an ambitious side. The group also includes electric Brazil international pick Thales Magno and 21-year-old homegrown midfielder Justin Hurk.
From a player’s perspective, the change between Cushing and his predecessor Deira isn’t too great. With greater tactical continuity, Mann’s change in his approach to management helps maintain a fresh perspective for a longtime regular like Parks.
“Similar,” said Parkes. “I think he and Ronnie certainly had a lot of similar ideas. He didn’t have time for that last year so I’m excited to see how it plays out He’s a good enforcer He’s obviously very friendly , likes to joke, but is a good enforcer when needed.”
Parks has his sights set on returning to the US Men’s National Team in 2023, with the Gold Cup and Nations League busy, and hopes a more prominent role on the field will open up even more doors. , all focus is on his health and ability to play his best for the club.
well maybe not all of his focus. As if not enough has changed in the past two years, Parks and his wife Kat announced that they are expecting their first child in August.
baby park 🔜😍
Congrats to all Keaton and Cat #NYCFC 🎉 pic.twitter.com/9U1KGCV5Ic
— New York City Football Club (@NYCFC) February 8, 2023
The central midfielder will need to play with high awareness and a uniform keel, but Parks knows there will be another earthquake in the middle of the season. However, unlike the last two years, it will be much more welcome this year.
“I mean, it’s exciting,” Parks said. “I’m more excited than ever. I know nothing about parenting and we’ll see how it works. I’m going to be all instinct. We’re so excited. She has a babysat, a babysitter, etc., so she knows more than I do, so I’m very excited. I have.”
(Photo: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports)