NYCFC hail Heber's personality, influence after latest Hudson River Derby

BRONX, N.Y. — Dome Torrent said he wants his New York City FC team to play with personality, to have confidence and conviction in the attacking third.

Perhaps no player embodies that more than Heber, especially during his Hudson River Derby-winning goal Saturday night against the New York Red Bulls.

The Brazilian showed some of that joga bonito from his homeland with a filthy backheel that nutmegged Luis Robles. It was his second derby goal, but the first that’s led NYCFC to a 2-1 victory.

“Today, like we say in Brazil, is the game for six points because we won, we go up in the table, we go close for the first position,” Heber said. “We need to keep playing in this way because we can finish first in the table.”

Heber said he was “very happy because I score again,” but deflected praise, instead shifting plaudits to Anton Tinnerholm for “a good assist.” The move was no mistake, either, Heber explained.

“In training, we make a lot of these movements,” the 28-year-old said. “After training sometimes [Tinnerholm] calls me and he makes some crosses also.”

Like Heber, Torrent didn’t want to just praise one player. Instead he spoke of the partnership between Heber and Taty Castellanos, both on and off the field, as a driving reason behind both strikers currently being in form.

“Right now, Heber and Taty have a good relationship, not just outside the stadium, the facilities, even in the pitch,” Torrent said. “When that happens it’s much better for the team.”

Torrent also praised Alexandru Mitrita for a performance against the Red Bulls he labeled “unbelievable.”

“I say to them this week, 'We need everybody involved, everybody has to defend. If not it’s impossible to [beat] the Red Bulls.' And they did it,” Torrent said. “The reason why I'm very happy is because I think we deserve to win the game.”

NYCFC’s head coach also declined to tout Heber for MLS Newcomer of the Year, an award won by Zlatan Ibrahimovic a year ago.

“I don't know. I’m very happy with our player,” he said. “I don’t know if this player is better than another player. I don't know, but I'm very happy right now with the whole team.”

Left back Ronald Matarrita, though, had no problem singing Heber’s praises.

“Of course he is one of the best players we have in MLS,” he said. “We have to appreciate him and have to try and bring the best out of him so we can keep on celebrating during the games.

“Heber is an excellent teammate, he's a player who is always there for the team and we are always so proud to have him here,” Matarrita added. “His contributions has brought us many solutions when we are attacking. Now having the combination of him and Taty, we are very happy to have him here on the team. … He’s putting his touch on the league.”