By: Marco D'Onofrio
With there have already been numerous rumors this offseason that New York City FC could be in the hunt for more familiar faces from Europe, it looks as though they may have finally set their sights on the CONCACAF region.
According to various reports out of South America which were later confirmed by the player himself, the club have turned their attention to Costa Rican international, Ronald Matarrita. The current Alajuelense defender, could be the perfect replacement for Angelino who returned back to Manchester City after a season-long loan.
Unlike Angelino before he arrived in New York City, Matarrita has experience playing in CONCACAF already.
He is a regular for his club at the domestic level in Costa Rica, and has also featured for the national team as well.
NYCFC made international headlines when they fired Jason Kreis and named Premier League legend, Patrick Viera, as their new head coach. Kreis struggled to make all the pieces fit, but he could hardly be blamed considering players like Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo didn't arrive to the fold until halfway through the season.
New York City saw little success on the pitch in 2015, finishing in eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. Just the woeful Chicago Fire and Philadelphia Union ended the campaign with fewer points in the East. While there is little doubt that the likes of Pirlo, Lampard, and David Villa, helped raised the club's global profile and sell tickets in a crowded New York sports market, it didn't bring them many wins in their first season.
If NYCFC are going to continue trying to build a dedicated fanbase, they know will have to eventually field a winning team. Both the Columbus Crew and Portland Timbers proved in 2015 that you don't need international stars and former World Cup winners to be successful in MLS.
Matarrita is just 21-years-old and could be a real cornerstone for any MLS franchise. What makes him such a hot commodity is not just his talent, but his versatility as well. The Costa Rican has the ability to play in his natural position as a left-back, but can also be used further up the field as a midfielder.
Matarrita's current team, Alajuelense, were eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League in the semi-finals earlier this year, when the Montreal Impact beat them to advance to the final. Matarrita was a key piece in his club's continental run, and his experience playing against MLS sides will make the transition to the United States much easier.
While the 21-year-old may not have the international resume that some of his potential future teammates possess, he could be a valuable part of Viera's team next season. He won't require much of an adjustment period and could be exactly what New York needs considering they conceded an abysmal 58 goals last year.
It remains to be seen if NYCFC will be able to secure Matarrita's services, but the fact that the club have decided to look across the continent for talent and not just to Europe, has to be seen as a good sign moving forward.