COUNTRY: Costa Rica
CLUB: New York City FC
YEARS PRO: 5
At 22, Ronald Matarrita is already a mainstay in the New York City FC XI and arguably among the best left backs in MLS. The Costa Rican international has been named to MLS Team of the Week four times so far in 2016, his first in the league. Matarrita was brought to NYCFC in January from Alajuelense, where he helped the Costa Rican powerhouse win the winter season title in 2013 and finish as runner-up in the summer championship in 2014 and 2015.
During his four years at Alajuelense, Matarrita established himself as a regular with the Costa Rican national team, for whom he has made 14 appearances and scored one goal. He started all three of Costa Rica's matches at Copa America Centenario. At NYCFC, he's helped stabilize the left side of defense and bombs forward in the attack for a team currently battling for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
What the technical staffers say:
"Explosive going forward, energetic, lively. He's got the physical capacity and the volume to back up defensive backs in their own half. He's offensive-minded, has all the quality of a winger but coming from a deeper position. Some improvement that he has to have in his game is the defensive positioning – if you're thinking offensive first, sometimes you can get in trouble on your positioning, recognizing where maybe you should be five, six yards inside in case we lose it in defensive transition."
"He's very one-footed at this point. If he's in a game where he's pinned back, that's the issue for him – tactically, playing in a low block and how he deals with really clever movement in and around there. He's been very good on the attacking side of the ball as a left back, but they've also conceded a lot of goals. Is it all him? Of course not, but they've got to be better defensively. I'm sure he'll get better at that."
"He's got a lot of pace. They play him really high, almost as a winger, but he's got the fitness levels and pace to get himself all the way back and make some game-saving tackles like he did against Orlando, clearing a ball off the line and whacking himself against the post."