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Keaton Parks joins New York City FC on loan from Benfica

New York City FC signed United States defender Keaton Parks (25) on loan from Benfica for 2019. Here, Parks is in action against Bolivia during an international friendly at Talen Energy Stadium. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Keaton Parks, a promising young midfielder with the United States men’s national team, will join New York City FC on a one-year loan from influential Portuguese side Benfica.

The 21-year old Parks will fortify a midfield that will be without Yangel Herrera, whose two-year loan from Manchester City expired at the conclusion of the 2018 season. Herrera has signed with Huesca of La Liga.

“It’s the best decision for me right now,” Parks said in a statement released by the club Saturday. “It’s first division soccer, it’s good competition, it’s good experience and for me it’s the best opportunity for me right now. I’m excited to be able to live in the biggest city in the world and to play with a very well-known Club, a big Club in front of all of our fans. I’m just excited to get started.”

The possibility that Parks would join the Cityzens was first reported by MLSSoccer.com earlier this month.

The trigger for Parks and his agent may have been the irregular opportunities with the first team at Benfica – league champions in four of the last five seasons.  Of his 48 appearances for the club only six have been in the first division – all in the 2017-18 season.

Parks declined an offer to play at Southern Methodist University in 2015 and instead signed with Varzim in Portugal’s second division.

In July of 2017, Parks transferred to Benfica and after performing well for the reserve side, the Plano, Texas native signed a new deal that runs until 2022.

In 29 appearances for Benfica II last season, Parks had seven goals and six assists. He has recorded one assist in his 13 games during the current 2018-19 campaign.

Parks has one cap with the U.S. men’s senior team – a 29-minute reserve appearance in a friendly against Bolivia on May 28, 2018 at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa.

Although invited to a U-20 national camp in 2017, Parks has never competed for a U.S. youth national team.

“Keaton is a young American player that can play at a few different spots in the midfield,” NYCFC coach Dome Torrent said in the statement. “He can play in the six position, but he can always play further up the field as an eight. Even though he’s a young player, he’s played professionally in Europe and that experience will help him as he joins our squad and competes for minute in our midfield.”

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