But coach Dome Torrent said the left-footed 28-year-old, who arrives after his contract at Aberdeen expired, has a special quality, and versatility, to be a difference-maker for the rest of this year and beyond.
“He has quality, he can play on both sides, he’s a good player 1-v-1,” Torrent said after training Wednesday. “He’s a fast, fast player and the most important thing he has quality to play in different positions.”
Torrent confirmed he wanted to sign Mackay-Steven in December, but he was still under contract at Aberdeen and NYCFC would have had to pay a transfer fee. Understanding the strong possibility Mackay-Steven, who came up through the youth ranks at Liverpool and Fulham and also played at Dundee United and Celtic, would let his contact expire, the decision was made to wait for the secondary transfer window in July.
“It’s good news for our club and he has quality,” Torrent said. “Our club is always looking for the talent to improvement our squad. He has talent, he has quality and he’ll help us a lot in this season and especially in the future.”
With the Scottish Premiership ending in May, Torrent warned Mackay-Steven will need time to adjust to his new surroundings, and likely the July and August heat and humidity in New York. He cited Heber being in a similar situation when he arrived from HNK Rijeka in Croatia.
But Torrent said Mackay-Steven’s ability to play either wing or even feature as a No. 8 or No. 10 in a 4-3-3 formation gives NYCFC the necessary depth to deal with the fixture congestion in the second half of the season.
“It’s impossible to play [Ismael Tajouri-Shradi], Jesus [Medina], [Alexandru Mitrita] every three days, seven games in a row,” Torrent said. “It’s almost impossible because you risk injury, sometimes the players are really tired.”
Torrent said he believes his team is “really close” right now, which begs the question: Will there be another addition when the window opens?
“Why not,” Torrent said. “The club is always looking for talent, the best player to improve our team. If it’s possible to sign another player because we decide we need another player to finish not just the season even for the next season, why not?”
But Torrent was quick to point out, it wouldn’t be a signing for the sake of a signing.
“If we decide to [sign] another player, it means he has quality because it’s not easy to improve the quality right now of our players,” Torrent said. “I don’t want to sign one player because we need 20 players or 19 players, we need to sign the right players If he’s able to improve our team.”