For Mikey Lopez, penning a new deal at New York City FC means the world.
The midfielder, who made 16 appearances in 2016, has extended his stay at NYCFC and is already eager for the new season to roll around.
Lopez also paid tribute to Patrick Vieira and revealed his pride at representing the city following the announcement of the roster options on Monday.
The Texan told NYCFC.com: “It means a lot to me – New York City has been amazing and I just feel proud to represent, not only this club but the city too. To be a part of this for another year makes me feel very proud and excited.
“It was a great experience having Patrick as coach. He really embraced us all from the very beginning and he’s done an amazing job. We’ve all bought into his methods and his way of wanting us to play.”
As a fellow midfielder, Lopez believes he has the perfect mentor and tutor in Vieira as he seeks to improve and take on a greater role in 2017.
Patrick demonstrated his faith in Mikey by fielding him in the club’s first-ever MLS Playoffs game at Toronto last month, which the 23-year old described as a “huge confidence boost” in his young career.
“Having him as a coach, personally, has been amazing for me – he’s helped me a lot in my game,” Lopez reflected.
“Especially as he played kind of the same position as me, he knows it so well – he’s been a tremendous help, enabling me to get better through the season.
“More than that, he’s shown confidence in me which is big for any athlete – everything he’s taught me has really stuck and so I’m really happy and appreciative to have him as a coach for another year so I can learn more over the next 12 months.
“To know that he had the confidence to put me in for such a big game – our very first Playoffs game – jus helped me to get more confidence.
“It was a great feeling knowing that the staff and the Head Coach are willing to field you in big games. It meant so much to me and every time I go out there I try to repay that faith shown in me.”
Going into his second season at NYCFC, Lopez is focused on two areas for improvement.
Although he’s made great strides both technically and tactically, he feels these are two aspects of his game he can further hone in the coming months.
He added: “I feel like technically I’ve gotten better throughout the year but I also have more tactical intelligence – I’m not just running all over the place.
“I’m more settled down and calmer – these are still things I need to keep improving but the coaching staff have really helped me to get better in those two aspects.”