Mikey Lopez has had various roles in his first year with New York City FC and he’s embraced each one.
Of late, the young midfielder has been asked to be a closer, to come off the bench late to seal a victory.
And once again, Lopez has thrived.
“You have to fight the whole time, regardless if it’s 10 minutes or 90 minutes. You have to keep playing and keep fighting until the very end,” Lopez said. “When I come in, it’s my job to secure the win.”
That has been the case in each of NYCFC’s franchise-best four consecutive wins that has helped the Club move atop the table in the Eastern Conference.
“Always having the confidence from the coaching staff and the players is a great feeling,” Lopez said. “Thankfully they have that confidence in me and have given me the opportunity to keep playing. Regardless of how many minutes it is, as long as I’m stepping on the field, I feel I can contribute to the team and it’s a good feeling for me.”
Lopez has been a solid addition for NYCFC where he’s made a career-high six starts and 12 appearances.
“I’m very happy here,” Lopez said. “I’m so thankful that they gave me the opportunity to come here and it’s a dream playing with this team, in this city and playing with a lot of players here, these legends here and being coached by a legend. It’s a great experience for me so far.”
While he said learning under Patrick Vieira and playing alongside Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard and Andoni Iraola has been massive, Lopez said a huge help in his development has been NYCFC assistant coach Christian Lattanzio.
“He’s always on me,” Lopez said. “He believes in me and he’s working with me, cleaning up my touches and getting better on the ball and being smarter, not being so impulsive and making rash decisions and knowing when its my time to step and not time to step.”
Lopez arrived in New York City after three years at Sporting Kansas City, who selected him 14th overall in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. Lopez will get his first chance to return to Kansas City this weekend as NYCFC takes on SKC Sunday night at Children’s Mercy Park.
“The toughest part was leaving friends and a comfort zone I built in three years. But I needed to leave and when I saw the opportunity I took it,” Lopez said. “I needed to leave for my own good and for my development. It’s always tough to leave an old team because of all the relationships you make with other players and staff.”