New York City Midfielder Justin Haak says he is grateful for the chance of more regular game time and is learning a lot from the experience.
The Brooklyn-born starlet has enjoyed increased exposure to the first team this season, making 15 appearances for the boys in Blue this season and registering 760 minutes.
Interim Head Coach Nick Cushing has long established a reputation for putting trust into young players, instilling a belief that if you are good enough, you’re old enough.
Haak says he is grateful for the opportunity to have his chance to shine and is thriving from the responsibility.
“It does mean a lot to be given this amount of gametime,” he said.
“Under Ronny [Deila], I never really got a chance to show myself – whether that was his preference or because we have a very big squad with a lot of talented people – but there has been opportunities through injuries and then maybe Nick’s preference.
“That gave me an opportunity. I’ve been able to build off that and look to continue to get better.”
Haak's rise has been a positive story during what has been at times a testing period for City. When navigating those tricky moments Haak highlighted the importance of leadership within the squad and the senior players available for him to learn from.
Of those characters, the New York native declared he has been impressed with the way certain members of the team have stepped up during this period, pulling everyone together and also sharing the benefits of their experience with the younger players.
“Two people who have really helped me a lot are Maxime Chanot and Thiago Martins,” he explained.
“When I first started playing, Thiago was usually one of the guys behind me so he helped me a lot and Maxime has always been there, guiding me. It’s about listening to the leaders in the group.”