Take note MLS fans: One of the league’s own is currently taking a star turn at the Under-20 World Cup.
New York City FC midfielder Yangel Herrera has proven excellent as Venezuela’s captain, playing every minute of the Vinotinto’s wins over Germany, Vanuatu, and Mexico to help the country capture the Group B title. He enjoyed his biggest performance yet in the Round of 16, heading home a corner kick in the second period of extra time to give Venezuela a 1-0 win over Japan.
A member of Venezuela’s squad at last summer’s Copa America Centenario, the 19-year-old Herrera was signed by Manchester City from Atletico Venzeuela in February, then immediately loaned to NYCFC. He’s made five appearances in MLS play, starting his final two matches – he bagged a goal in his first start, a 3-2 win at Crew SC – before heading to South Korea for the U-20 World Cup.
Along the way, he’s received plenty of help from a few of NYCFC’s more notable names.
“[Head coach Patrick] Vieira and [Andrea] Pirlo have helped me so much,” he told FIFA.com after Tuesday’s win against Japan. “I’ve learned that the standard is much higher abroad and that I’ve got a lot of improving to do if I want to cement my place here.”
Herrera said Vieira, David Villa and Maxi Moralez all texted to wish him good luck prior to the start of the U-20 World Cup. And now, he'll help Venezuela prep for their quarterfinal matchup on Sunday against the winner of Thursday’s USA-New Zealand match.
“We’ve got a great squad, some fantastic players, and we’re dreaming,” he said. “We have faith and we know we can become the world champions.”