Welcome to Major League Soccer, Heber.
The Brazlian striker made his presence well known in his first-ever start for New York City FC, rifling home a left-footed shot in the 56th minute against D.C. United in Week 8. That made it 2-0, building off an already strong day for the 27-year-old.
Heber, signed from Croatian side HNK Rijeka on March 21 with Targeted Allocation Money, had already assisted on the go-ahead strike from Alexandru Mitrita in the first half. This was the striker’s first extended run since arriving stateside, having come off the bench in NYCFC’s last two matches.
The breakout performance is a welcome sight for NYCFC, which has sought to replace legendary Spanish striker David Villa after he departed following 2018. Across four seasons in the Big Apple, Villa had 80 goals and 26 assists spanning both the regular season and playoffs. It’s likely too tall a task for Heber, a No. 9, to solely fill Villa’s shoes, but the D.C. showing is encouraging nonetheless.
His play offered a vertical threat that’s otherwise been missing all season, making NYCFC’s attack less predictable. He was substituted off in the 63rd minute, bringing to a close a day that could have swelled to even greater heights.