COUNTRY: Costa Rica
CLUB: New York City FC
YEARS PRO: 6
24 under 24 | #16 Ronald Matarrita
Though he has been out injured for much of the year, Ronald Matarrita is still considered one of the brightest defensive prospects in the league. On top of being quick enough to stymie even the most talented wingers, the left back's ability to jump into the attack and combine with teammates or whip in crosses provides New York City FC another dangerous weapon.
In addition to his envious skill set, Matarrita also boasts a good bit of experience for his age. He has made 18 appearances for Costa Rica, including in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers, and scored twice. His international performances combined with the strong 34 outings he has made for NYCFC since joining the club in 2016 has made him a rumored target of interest from European clubs. Whether he eventually makes the jump overseas is unknown, but for now NYCFC can continue to enjoy his two-way play and efforts while opposing teams have to be wary of them.
What the technical staffers say:
"Certainly up there among the very best left backs in the league … great technique, will overlap, good passer, does his job and knows his role … everyone is looking for solid outside backs … has built a reputation in the league … if you can close him quickly and take away first option, can be exploited as NYCFC play out of the back … he’s today’s fullback. What you’re looking for in a fullback, he checks a lot of boxes. … He’s got the volume, got the energy, can support the attack but at the same time can stop a cross or defend the back post … pretty decent left foot … can get in trouble if he doesn’t process the information quickly enough and you use the sideline as a defender against him – can give up the ball … can get past you with a pass or a dribble … athletic enough that when you do beat him 1v1 or get in behind, he catches up, so you not only have to beat him but also make a decision quickly because of that recovery athleticism … intelligent wingback but he does rely on his ability to catch up with his speed … is he always facing the right way, is he anticipating the ball over the top or in the pocket? … knows he can usually make up that ground, but he’ll learn that doesn’t always work against intelligent wingers who put you in doubt, and hurt you if you’re not in the right position … has improved since he came in the league."