Since it’s inception in 2015, New York City FC’s quest to find a suitable back-up to David Villa has been laden with disappointment.
Adam Nemec could not manage a goal. Patrick Mullins showed promise but was traded away to D.C. United. Sean “Ugo” Okoli was the United Soccer League MVP after leading the second-tier league in goals with FC Cincinnati, but was not up to the task in MLS.
Jo Inge Berget was exalted upon his arrival at NYCFC preseason camp in the third week of January. He and NYCFC fullback Anton Tinnerholm were teammates at Malmö FF and helped lead the Swedish club to their second consecutive Allsvenskan title in 2017. Berget had a team-high 10 goals.
However, Berget failed to appear in any of NYCFC’s six preseason competitions, and Pro Soccer USA has learned the Norwegian suffered a pulled right quad muscle while training in Los Angeles and will be sidelined for up to three weeks.
While a quad strain should not lead to a prolonged absence, Berget struggled technically in the initial sessions with his new team and will likely need additional work to gain fitness and the trust of head coach Patrick Vieira following his recovery.
Berget made his professional mark at two clubs. He tallied 17 goals in 63 appearances for the two-time Norwegian champions while producing 25 scores in 77 matches for Malmö FF. The 27-year old has 20 caps and scored his second goal for country in a 2-0 win over NYCFC midfielder Alex Ring and Finland in a March, 2016 friendly.
Top SuperDraft Pick Signed
NYCFC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna spotted University of Virginia goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell while watching his alma mater play this fall. Caldwell was a two-time All-ACC performer and Reyna noticed a high comfort level with his feet – a necessary tool in Vieira’s system. Vieira was convinced after evaluating Caldwell at the MLS Combine.
“From the combine, he was our first option,” said Vieira.
On Wednesday, the 19th overall selection in the MLS SuperDraft signed his first professional contract with NYCFC. Caldwell is the club’s 10th off-season acquisition and NYCFC now has four goalkeepers on their roster.
NYCFC opens the regular season on Sunday at Sporting KC.