New York City FC star Maxi Moralez becomes third MLS player with 20 assists in a season

Maxi Moralez extended his MLS-leading assist total in the first half of New York City FC’s home match Wednesday against Atlanta United, entering some rarified air in the process.

The Argentine maestro, 32, is now on 20 assists for the season, becoming just the third player in league history to reach that mark in a single campaign. The others are Sacha Kljestan, who reached 20 in 2016 with the New York Red Bulls, and Carlos Valderrama, who reached 26 in 2000 with the Tampa Bay Mutiny.

The Moralez assist came on Alexandru Mitrita’s 23rd-minute strike, which helped lead to a 3-0 halftime lead for NYCFC over the Five Stripes. His left-footed, one-touch volley off a Taty Castellanos' layoff reached the Romanian on the far side of the field. Mitrita made no mistake in the second strike of what proved to be a first-half hat trick.

It wasn’t all roses and sunshine for Moralez in the first half, though. He had the chance to make it 4-0 in the 43rd minute on a penalty kick, only to scuff his shot wide left. That makes him 4-of-8 from the penalty spot this season.