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NYCFC’s Federico Bravo & Stiven Mendoza Shine In Home Debuts

NYCFC’s new loan acquisitions Federico Bravo and Stiven Mendoza performed comfortably in their home debuts against Toronto.

By Jamie Martin

NYCFC had two new names featured in the squad for the home opener against Toronto FC.

Federico Bravo made a first start while Stiven Mendoza featured in his new colors for the first time.

Bravo, signed from Boca Juniors on loan for the 2016 season, started the match in a defensive role, drifting in and out of midfield and the back line.

In his second appearance at NYCFC, having played only a few minutes against Chicago, the 22 year old played a strong match. He settled in nicely, and despite picking up a debatable yellow card, the defensive midfielder made multiple important tackles.

Bravo’s combination play with fellow midfielder Andrea Pirlo was very impressive as the two were responsible for much of the build-up play in the NYCFC attack.

The Argentine did well in a formation with three defenders and appeared to have a good grasp on his role within Vieira’s tactics.

The only negatives that can be taken from Bravo’s debut, is the fact that he did receive a yellow card, though a harsh one, and the defense did concede two goals in the second half. However, for a player making only his second appearance in the United States, the new number 6 put in a convincing shift. With Andrew Jacobson departing New York City for Vancouver, Bravo’s role will likely only continue to grow as the season progresses.

Mendoza, who has signed for New York City FC on loan with the option to join permanently at the end of season, entered Sunday’s match as a substitute in the 67th minute. The Colombian replaced Tony Taylor and took up a position as a winger originally, and then ultimately moved up top alongside David Villa in the last few minutes of the match. He caused a few problems for the Toronto FC defense, recording a shot on goal and showcasing his pace in multiple instances.

The 23 year old proved to be an exciting attacking threat that could possess the abilities to work alongside Villa. His presence definitely gives Patrick Vieira somewhat of a selection headache, but a good one nonetheless. Mendoza provides another option on the wing, competing with Tony Taylor, Khiry Shelton, and eventually Kwadwo Poku for a starting role. However, he also does give Vieira the liberty of switching formations throughout the game due to his versatility. In a situation where NYCFC are chasing the game, or are in need of another goal, Mendoza could provide a very suitable option for a change of tactics.

With both new faces expected to play significant roles in the NYCFC side, fans should expect to see more of Bravo and Mendoza in the future. They are two signings that have bolstered the depth and quality of the 2016 team and they highlight the growing allure of Major League soccer. Whether or not either player chooses to stay in New York for the long run, there is no question that talented young players coming to the United States can only benefit the growth of soccer.

Bravo and Mendoza have both made promising debuts and their arrival at New York City FC should bring a high level of quality and excitement to Yankee Stadium.

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Jamie Martin is an aspiring sports journalist who covers the MLB, MLS, and the English Premier League. He is a huge fan of the New York Yankees and Manchester United.