© Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

NYCFC finds new spark plug in Maxi Morález

This winter, New York City FC lost Frank Lampard, a scorer of more than 300 goals over the course of his career. And yet, the team isn’t worse off.

A new, diminutive No. 10 – the five-foot-three Maxi Morález – has joined the New York midfield this season, and his influence started spreading last Saturday. NYCFC put four goals past D.C. United at Yankee Stadium, with Morález scoring one and assisting two.

He’s just arrived in MLS, but Morález has already caught the attention of players and coaches league-wide – and that includes the Bleu-blanc-noir, which has a date with NYCFC this Saturday at 2pm (TVA Sports, 98,5FM & TSN Radio 690).

“He’s a hard-working midfielder who covers a lot of ground,” said Montreal captain Patrice Bernier. “He’s of small stature, so he’s mobile, he can unbalance and he can change directions swiftly. He tries to contribute to NYCFC’s build-up play. He wants to play with the ball, but he also makes good runs into the box. His goal against D.C. made me think of Lampard, who used to come in as a second forward.

“But he’s more dynamic than Lampard,” added Bernier. “Maybe that was lacking in their midfield last season. He’s always close to David Villa and tries to get the ball often.”

After Nicolás Lodeiro, last weekend, Nacho Piatti will find another familiar foe in fellow Argentinean Morález, who he has crossed paths with in both their home country (one game between Gimnasia de la Plata and Racing Club, as well as two Independiente-Vélez fixtures) and Italy (Lecce v Atalanta in September of 2011).

“Maxi is an excellent player,” Piatti said. “He played in Italy for several years. He’ll bring a lot of quality to New York City’s play. And more than anything, he’ll help David [Villa] a great deal. He’ll play close to him up front and help him score goals. He makes the difference in the opposition half. We have to prepare well before we face him.”