NYCFC’s Moralez Kicks Off Learning Process After School



At 5-feet-3-inches tall, Maxi Moralez blended in with the children he played with at an East Harlem after-school program almost too well. At 30, Moralez said he hopes to do the same with his young teammates at New York City FC.

Moralez spoke with reporters at the bilingual and bicultural school. It was his first meeting with the media since signing with NYCFC two weeks ago. The walls at the school were painted with the covers of popular children’s books in languages ranging from Urdu to Italian. The midfielder picked up Italian during his time with Atalanta allowing him to speak with Coach Patrick Vieira (who played for Milan, Juventus and Inter, among others, during his career) and figure out how he fits into the team’s plans.

“I play with a lot of professionalism with responsibility during each step of my career,” Moralez said. “I give 100 percent every game and in every training session. I look to enjoy this adventure and step on the field to help this young club win trophies.”

After speaking with reporters, Moralez kicked around for 30 minutes with children inside the school’s gym and helped pick a lucky youngster to be a guest at the team’s April 12 home opener. Moralez has made two preseason appearances, playing behind David Villa in the attacking midfield role. He said playing at the top of the midfield triangle in a 4-3-3 was new to him.

“In the two friendlies that I played,” Moralez said, “I played in the middle of the field and in the last game it was together with [Alexander Ring] and [Andrea Pirlo]. It is a position I’m comfortable in but I haven’t played there a whole lot. I like to drop deep where I think that can help the team.”

Moralez’ move to NYCFC happened quickly, with the club showing a strong interest in him, he said. He joined the club on a three-year contract with financial terms undisclosed. He said he was happy that the club met his demands during the negotiation process. He is now set to play in MLS this weekend, a league he said he did not know much about.

“I could see some of the games when I was in Mexico and I knew some of the names in the league but not much else,” he said. “I knew about this club from David and Andrea. The rest of the world is talking about the league and it is an improving league so when they said I could come here, I said yes.”

Moralez will be combining with Villa and Pirlo to drive City’s attack this season. While he can communicate with each of them in either Spanish or Italian, he said he has to learn English to effectively communicate with the rest of the team and perform at his best. Moralez said he is looking forward to playing his part in spreading the game in New York City and with children. City is the latest stop in a career that has taken him to five countries, a fortunate fact of his life.

“I came from a family that loved football like any Argentine and they taught me the game and made it a part of me,” he said. “The game got me out of bad places and it gave me the opportunity to get to know different countries and different people. Where I’m from there are children that suffer and get in trouble so I was able to help my family and we get to enjoy being here.”