His impact on the match was instantaneous.
So, can Yangel Herrera’s full-time return sufficiently buttress the slumping New York City FC, which has gained one victory in the last nine matches?
In Herrera’s first appearance since sustaining a severe ankle injury May 25 against the Houston Dynamo, the 20-year-old logged 18 minutes as a reserve in the 3-1 loss at D.C. United on Sunday.
The Venezuelan international assisted on David Villa’s 13th goal of the season in the 78th minute.
“Herrera was amazing,” NYCFC coach Dome Torrent said. “The first pass, we scored a goal. The first three passes were clever passes. He recovered three or four balls in the first five minutes. That is Yangel. This is good news for us. We play much better with him – it’s not a secret.”
One of Herrera’s midfield mates was also enthusiastic about the return of the Venezuelan international.
“We’ve been missing his energy,” Alex Ring said. “I think the timing is good right before the playoffs start. He’s physical. That’s what we need in the midfield. We all know that we can play good with the ball but sometimes we just need the brutal force and physicality to take over a game and that’s a quality that he has.”
As part of his preparation, Herrera had a 45-minute workout when NYCFC scrimmaged its academy under-19 team last week.
“I spoke with him and asked if it was better for him to go 45 minutes (against D.C. United),” Torrent said. “He was very, very tired. He told me, ‘No, 20-25 is good for me.’
There was an additional factor for Torrent to consider while planning Herrera’s entrance.
“I spoke to him that he has to be careful because he has four yellow cards,” Torrent told Pro Soccer USA in a pregame briefing. “That is soccer – he needs the minutes.”
Herrera had a clean shift to avoid the suspension for yellow card accumulation, and barring a physical setback will be under strong consideration for a start on MLS Decision Day against the Philadelphia Union.
“I think he’s ready to start in the XI the next game and maybe play 60 minutes,” Torrent said. “We’ll have to talk to him about that.”