As US men’s national team midfielder Alfredo Morales came to learn during his different Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga stops, transfers are often about timing.
The latest instance was officially announced Wednesday, as the 30-year-old was signed by New York City FC to a three-year contract with a club option for 2024. It takes Morales away from Germany, where he spent his entire professional career first at Hertha BSC, then FC Ingolstadt and most recently Fortuna Düsseldorf.
Both on a personal and professional level, Morales said the transfer made sense as he establishes roots in the New York City metropolitan area. There were “a lot” of other possible MLS moves in past seasons, Morales said, but none quite panned out until discussions began a few weeks ago.
“I had really good conversations with [NYCFC sporting director] David Lee and for me it was a good timing because as a player, my age – not only as a soccer player, also as a person – I always wanted to come to the US and experience life in the US, especially with my wife and my kids,” Morales said. “This was very important for me. I was talking to my wife and we wanted to do it from the first day. It's a big move, especially when you have kids and my kids, they're German basically. They don't speak English, they just know the basic stuff like how are you, strawberry and cat and cow and dog and whatever. It's really exciting and we're really looking forward to it.”
As intense as Morales is on the pitch, he appeared with an affable smile during his introductory Zoom press conference Thursday. Perhaps it’s the emotional high of joining a new project, but he’s clearly impressed with the early training environment head coach Ronny Deila has cultivated.
That outlook also informs the crowded midfield Morales is entering, with NYCFC already boasting one-time USMNT midfielder Keaton Parks, Uruguayan youth international Nicolas Acevedo and the homegrown duo of James Sands and Justin Haak. Further upfield, Maxi Moralez is their orchestrator and final-third magician.
Morales should bring a veteran presence, especially after NYCFC traded away Alex Ring to expansion side Austin FC earlier this offseason. Morales has featured in over 100 matches in both of Germany’s top two divisions.
“We have a great team, really – I experienced it in the last two training sessions over the last two days,” Morales said. “They're young, they can improve and they will improve, but it's good. I like the competition in training, it's really intense and it's hard but this is what I do, what I like. I love competition so I like it when there are a lot of players fighting for one or two spots. It just makes us better everybody individually. Like I said, I just want to help everybody. I'm really open. I will always try to talk to the younger guys also.”
Morales provides versatility to NYCFC’s midfield, with Delia able to utilize him in several different roles. And throughout his early MLS chapters, he wants to show what American fans have watched from afar since his Hertha BSC emergence in the late 2000s.
“For me, it's to give my intensity to the team, my physicality, my aggressiveness, my passion also,” Morales said. “I will do everything, I'm telling you, to win a game. This is what I want to bring.
“Maybe I can light up the spark emotionally for the team to lead the team on this emotional basis. On the pitch, I can play everything. We talked about playing holding midfielder, more as a No. 8. I'm playing professional soccer for more than 10 years now, so I know all the stuff. I just need a job and I will do everything I can to do it.”