A ‘Magical Moment’ for NYCFC’s Callens

Photo by Matt Kremkau

NYCFC logoWhen the final whistle sounded Sunday evening, it ended the regular season but signaled Alex Callens‘ arrival into an exclusive club within Major League Soccer. Callens became the seventh player to play all 3,060 minutes of a 34-game regular season with the conclusion of New York City FC‘s 2-2 draw with the Columbus Crew.

“It was a crazy game but for me I’m proud,” Callens said. “The team kept fighting, we weren’t happy with just a draw, we never lowered our arms and we kept working until the end. Thankfully, we finished second and we deserved it.”

Callens played Sunday where he has played every game for NYCFC, at left center back anchoring a solidified back four. The players Callens expected to partner with for much of the season changed as Ben Sweat and Frederic Brillant moved into the starting left back and right center back jobs after injuries. Yet Callens has remained healthy and a stabilizing presence for the team, Coach Patrick Vieira said.

“He’s a really good character in the dressing room,” Vieira said last week. “The players love him, he’s played all the games and as a team we’ve improved our defending because of Alex Ring, Alex Callens and Sean Johnson. They improved the stability of the team and Alex has been terrific.”

Callens joined NYCFC during the off-season from Numancia in the Spain’s second division, where he had already played 16 games in the 2016-17 season. In all, he’s played in 50 games since August 2016 with 4,377 minutes played. Still he said he is feeling fine physically and mentally ahead of at least another 180 minutes in the conference semifinals.

“The only ones who can say different are you guys but I’m on the field and enjoying the minutes that I’ve played,” he said. “I just always give 100 percent and try to play every game I can.”

With Callens in the lineup, City conceded 14 fewer goals this season while finishing second over all in the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings. He scored twice this season including the game-winning goal against the Philadelphia Union on June 3. That win was one of 16 for NYCFC this season and the team needed each of them to secure second place.

“I’m living a magical moment,” Callen said. “We finished second, we’re going to play in the playoffs and a lot can happen now. I’m delighted. I’m delighted for the team, the captains, the technical staff and everyone who helped us get here. Now we can’t be complacent.”