It's been a busy week on and off the pitch for New York City FC.
Here's what's been making headlines in NYCFC-land over the past seven days...
We begin with a piece from The Athletic's Kristian Dyer, who gave readers an insight into what the International break means for the younger players in the NYCFC first-team.
Dyer writes: "Two years ago, a 14-year-old NYCFC academy player named Joe Scally received an email. Scally initially read it as an invite for him him to come watch the NYCFC first team train — not out of the ordinary, considering Scally was one of the more promising names to emerge in NYCFC’s nascent academy. Upon second reading, though, the email’s real meaning became clear. Scally, not yet old enough to drive, was being requested to train…with the first team.
"The tables have turned in the two years since. In the past week, the now-16-year-old Scally trained alongside a number of academy players who were called into first-team sessions, mostly as a way to make up numbers while 10 members of the NYCFC first team were away on international duty.
"It is a vision that was initiated by sporting director Claudio Reyna to begin fully integrating a deep pipeline of talent available to the team. But the first big step in that pipeline happens far away from the bright lights of professional fields. It starts with a simple call-up.
"A call-up is not only a reward to the players, but also provides the first team staff an introduction to the talent that is emerging at different levels of the club."
Another young NYCFC player that's catching the attention of the media is Keaton Parks, the midfielder on loan from S.L. Benfica for the 2019 season.
ESPN's Noah Davis had a chance to sit down with Parks and reflect on the steps that ultimately landed him with the Boys in Blue.
Davis scribes: "On Sept. 4, 2016, recently turned 19-year-old Keaton Parks did something he'd done thousands of times before: He ran onto a soccer field. This time, two things were different: One, Parks was officially a professional. And two, he was far from home. So very far.
"Success came quickly: two goals in his first two starts, a starting role and then a move to powerhouse Benfica in the summer of 2017. He made four appearances for the first team and 42 for Benfica B, scoring seven goals. The 36-time Primeira Liga winners liked what they saw, signing him through 2022.
"In the offseason, he took another leap: returning stateside on loan to New York City FC.
"The 6-foot-3 central midfielder cited the opportunity to learn from the coaching staff, both NYCFC manager Dome Torrent and Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, as a major reason for his decision. While he arrived to find a crowded midfield featuring Alex Ring, Maxi Moralez, Ebenezer Ofori, James Sands, Justin Haak and Juan Pablo Torres, only managing two minutes of game time in the young Major League Soccer season so far, Parks isn't the type of player to shy away from a challenge. Plus, the move is designed to further his career, not end it."
Parks' time in Portugal came in handy not only for his career, but for his first meeting with NYCFC's newly acquired striker Héber, who landed in New York and trained with the team on Saturday at the team's training facility for the first time.
When the two met, Parks welcomed Héber in Portuguese which shocked the striker, he was taken aback but he also felt more comfortable - making a deal with Parks, that he would speak to him in Portuguese moving forward.
Héber's arrival to his new home was full of excitement, as the team and staff welcomed him with open arms, Hudson River Blue's Christian A. Smith describes Héber's arrival as a christening: "The wait is over. Héber — New York City FC’s newest signing — has reported to his first training session with the club and has begun to acclimate to his new club.
"Earlier today, NYCFC released a video showing Héber arriving to the club’s training facility. The documentation shows the Brazilian meeting club director Claudio Reyna, manager Domé Torrent, his new teammates, and even engaging in some Portuguese with Keaton Parks.
"The video also reveals something else: the kit number he will be wearing this season. Any guess as to what that number might be? You guessed it..."
Héber's arrival came the day after NYCFC's tough loss to Toronto FC at BMO Field on Friday night. Of course, the result was not one the team was hoping for, but Head Coach Dome Torrent took ownership for the loss.
Pro Soccer USA's Glen Crooks reported Dome as saying: “We started to play really well early in the second half – the first 10 minutes but it’s my opinion that after the penalty – and it was a penalty – that finished the game.
“It’s my fault because I didn’t read the game,” Torrent said. “ It’s not about the players.
“Sometimes you have to recognize and I didn’t read the game. Maybe I don’t convince my players the best way to play – sometimes it happens.
“We have to improve the next game and we have to win the game,” Torrent continued, "We need to win the game right now because if not, we are in trouble. We have three points out of 12 and if we want to play the playoff, we need to react quickly.”
Now that the team is back home, the focus shifts from Toronto FC to Montreal Impact but the goal remains the same - to get those first three points of the season.
A more positive highlight from this weekend came in the shape of the 2019 eMLS Cup Series Three in Boston, in which NYCFC's Chris Holly reached the tournament's Eastern Conference Final. MLSsoccer.com has the highlight's from the cutthroat competition here.
Holly went head-to-head with Philadelphia Union's Cormac Dooley, who had won the previous two eMLS series meetups. Dooley and Holly traded golazos over a wild 120' of FIFA action before the Union man edged it on PKs but the matchup will forever go down in eMLS history, and the Beast will be back, #BeastUp!
That's all for this week, check back in next week after the showdown between NYCFC and Montreal Impact in the Bronx, until then don't miss out on a chance to see your Boys in Blue at home - buy your tickets now!