NYCFC's Heber adjusting to "American style" of play, hoping for more goals

ORANGEBURG, N.Y. — Heber made two substitute appearances, but for all intents and purposes, Sunday was his first game since December. 

A goal and an assist in a 2-0 win over D.C. United was about as good as gets for the Brazilian forward in his first New York City FC start. 

“It’s the best feeling because a striker lives about the goals and my first goal here, I’m very happy, but I’m more happy for the three points because the last games we played very well, but didn’t win,” Heber told after training Tuesday. “But this game we played well and won, it’s the most important.”

Heber, who played 63 minutes Sunday, is still working his way to full fitness. He said he played in some friendlies in January with HNK Rijeka, but it’s not the same as a regular season game. Prior to his arrival in New York, he last saw action in one of those in December. 

That’s just part of his acclimation to a new team, new tactical style, a new league and a new country. 

“It’s very difficult to change the style of the game, style of the tactical coach, you need to turn off the Croatia side and turn on the American style,” Heber said. “But here my teammates are very good guys, very welcoming and they helped me a lot to get acclimated with the team.”

Sunday’s match was also the first time Heber was able to play with Maxi Moralez and Alexandru Mitrita in the attacking third, making his first MLS start even easier. 

“When you play with players with quality, it’s easy,” Heber said. “Maxi and Mitrita are amazing players and they have a lot of quality. I know if I make the movement, they will give the ball. The last game, we created good chances and I hope that we continue like that.”

However, Heber stopped short of saying Sunday’s performance was the blueprint of what’s to come for the Cityzens. 

“I cannot say to you because every game is different,” he said. “Some game you need to run more, it’s harder. You need to feel in the game your situation. I hope in the next few games I’ll be fit to help my team.”

The goal isn’t the only thing that makes Heber feel more comfortable in his new surroundings. He’s moved out of a hotel and into his own home near some of his teammates, who he said have been very welcoming. 

Heber said his initial impressions about MLS from conversations he had with FC DallasMarquinhos Pedroso, a Brazilian compatriot, and Real Salt Lake’s Damir Kreilach, a former teammate in Croatia, have been reaffirmed in his first three weeks here. 

“Before I came I asked them about the league and they told me amazing things,” he said. 

Although he already feels relief for scoring his first goal for his new club, Heber said his mentality needs to be the same as it was before Sunday’s tally. 

“You must keep in your head to be ready for one chance and you must be ready to score,” Heber said. “Thank God I don’t have to wait too much to score my first goal. Now, I broke this ice and I hope more goals come.”