NEW YORK — Tayvon Gray used to go to Valley Park near his home in the Bronx for kick-arounds with his father, Kevin — a former professional player in England — and other older men. The setting was informal and was a critical component in his growth as a player.
Gray, a New York City FC Academy product, signed a Homegrown contract Nov. 26. He is the fourth Homegrown for NYCFC and the first from the Bronx. Gray will join the team full-time for the opening of preseason Jan. 11.
“When I came here, I could handle anything,” Gray told Pro Soccer USA’s Glenn Crooks during his On Frame interview.
“When you watch Tayvon play, whether it’s here or with the national team, it’s quite evident to see his joy of being on the field,” NYCFC academy director Sam Pugsley said. “He’s always smiling and that transfers to everyone else in the Academy.”
Gray is primarily a central defender and will compete against NYCFC’s Maxime Chanot, Alexander Callens and Sebastien Ibeagha. Sporting Director David Lee suggested anything could happen for the 2020 starting lineup.
“Last season, I don’t know if the coaches felt that James Sands would be in the starting lineup on opening day,” Lee told PSUSA. “We never want to put a time on it.”