It goes without saying that New York City FC’s first major signing of the off-season, Alexandru Mitrita, has been disappointing in his production thus far this season. However, when needed most, against Atlanta United on Wednesday night, the Romanian winger showed everyone that he is that player from the bad YouTube highlight reels by scoring his first MLS hat trick to sink one of the MLS Cup favorites.
“It’s important to get the points,” said Mitrita after the game. “I was able to score three goals in front of our fans, it’s incredible.”
Each of the goals showcased Mitrita’s unique talent which at times has been dormant throughout stretches of the season. The first was a brilliant display of ball handling. The winger dazzled the defense from the wing, cutting inside and eventually making the opening before taking the shot that beat Brad Guzan in the top corner. The second showed similar skill but with far more accuracy in the shot to hit the near post. The final was an example of being in the right place at the right time, something that the best strikers in MLS learn to be masters of throughout the season.
All of this comes as City is still healing their star striker Heber. The Brazilian did see time later in the game and score a spectacular goal himself. However, Mitrita finding his scoring legs and lifting himself into the double digit goal category, creates another dangerous option for teams to worry about heading into the playoffs. Not just that but the comfortability of playing at Yankee Stadium is now nearly a guaranteed problem for oppositng teams.
“We have very good players,” said head coach Dome Torrent after the game. “I think that we have a certain style of play and we have all bought in, but without the players we couldn’t achieve anything. Bringing the right players allowed us to play different, but it all comes down to the players. Without them we couldn’t have achieved what we have this season.”
City will finish the season with two road games against New England and Philadelphia before returning home to host a playoff game in the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs.