The Debutant Ballers | Nine Scoring Starts

Mounsef Celly

What better way to start your time at a new team than with a goal on your full debut? 

Heading into this week’s match, NYCFC had eight players that had found the net when starting their first game in blue.

That select group gained a ninth member when Mounsef Bakrar – who was poetically wearing the number nine – found the net against Toronto FC.

To mark the occasion, we looked back at all nine fabulous debut strikes (h/t @SoupInNYC27).

Mix Diskerud vs. Orlando City SC 3/8/15

An important chapter in NYCFC history was written in Orlando, Florida, when the Boys in Blue took on Orlando City SC in the inaugural match for both teams. 

It was a day of firsts for both teams, and that allowed Mix Diskerud to seize the moment and etch his name in history forever. The Norwegian-born U.S. international collected the ball on the edge of the box in the 76th minute and opened his body before curling the ball into the bottom right corner. 

A euphoric moment for everyone connected to the Club, it was also a great way for Diskerud to introduce himself to fans of NYCFC & MLS. 

Tommy McNamara vs. Philadelphia Union 6/6/15

The former Chivas USA midfielder arrived in New York as part of the 2015 Expansion Draft. 

McNamara was no stranger to New York, having grown up in West Nyack, and he made an unforgettable impact during his first start for the Club against Philadelphia Union. 

City were down a goal on the road when McNamara won the ball back in midfield. Playing a one-two with cult hero Kwadwo Poku, McNamara got the ball out of his feet before curling in a wonderful strike from 30 yards out. 

The goal typified McNamara’s blend of grit and quality and set NYCFC enroute to a memorable 2-1 victory against the Union at Subaru Park.

Tommy Celly

Jack Harrison vs. Real Salt Lake 6/2/16

The SuperDraft Selection had a chaotic entry into MLS after being selected by the Chicago Fire and then promptly traded to NYCFC. A hip injury forced him to miss the first ten games of the season, but he made up for lost time during his first start against Real Salt Lake in June.

A slaloming run past several players saw Harrison engineer the space for a shot. A dash of good fortune saw his effort deflect off the inside of Justen Glad’s leg and land in the back of the net. 

The first of many for Harrison as a City player, it was an early insight into why the Club were so keen to secure him and an exciting demonstration of what was to come with Leeds United post-NYCFC. 

Jesús Medina vs. Sporting Kansas City 3/4/18

Announced on New Year’s Eve 2017, Jesús Medina joined NYCFC from Libertad in his native Paraguay. The tricky and dynamic winger arrived with a glowing reputation, and it took him only 53 minutes to show City fans what he was all about against Sporting Kansas City. 

A fast breakaway saw Ben Sweat rampaging down the left flank. He spotted his new teammate in space and promptly crossed it in. After taking a touch to settle the ball, the future MLS Cup champion poked it past the onrushing goalkeeper to secure a first strike in City blue. 

Ismael Tajouri-Shradi vs. Orlando City SC 3/17/18

The second player on this list to find debut success against Orlando City, Tajouri-Shradi’s strike came in March 2018. 

The Boys in Blue were locked in a stalemate with the Lions when Tajouri-Shradi pounced on a poor clearance by Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik. Still with work to do, the forward shifted the ball inside before passing it into the back of the net. 

Maxi Moralez would add a second late on, giving Tajouri-Shradi a decisive, winning goal on his first start for NYCFC. 

Taty Castellanos vs. Vancouver Whitecaps 8/4/18

The forward relocated to the Five Boroughs in the summer of 2018, and didn’t take long to show fans why the Club were so excited to secure his services from sister club, Montevideo City Torque.

A trip to Vancouver would serve as the perfect opportunity for Castellanos to find the net, and he did just that moments into the second half against the Whitecaps. 

Found after some great work from Jo Inge Berget, Castellanos took a touch to bring the ball under control before firing the ball low and across Stefan Marinovic and into the bottom left corner. 

The first of many well-taken goals from the striker, his debut goal was an early indicator of the player the Club had acquired.


Héber vs. D.C. United 4/21/2019 

The Brazilian forward brought a big smile and a big hunger for goals to New York, and he wasted no time in breaking his duck.

NYCFC were on the road in our nation’s capital when Héber suited up for his first start with NYCFC under Domè Torrent. The Brazilian registered an assist on Alex Mitriță’s goal to put the Boys in Blue ahead, but he wasn’t finished there.

In the 56th minute, Ronald Matarrita found Héber in space on the left-hand side of the penalty area. Without hesitation, he struck through the bouncing ball as it flew through the legs of Bill Hamid.

His now trademark celebration earned its first airing, and NYCFC had their new number nine.

Keaton Parks vs. North Carolina FC 6/12/19

The Texan native arrived in the Five Boroughs initially on loan from Portuguese giants Benfica in January 2019.

An exciting young player, his first start for the Boys in Blue would come in the U.S. Open Cup against North Carolina FC at Belson Stadium. A strong showing from NYCFC had the team up 2-0 by halftime, and that’s when Parks added the icing to the cake with a brace.

His first goal saw him tower above everyone in the box to head home a cross from Juan Pablo Torres, before a well-taken finish from just inside the box gave NYCFC a fourth goal.

Mounsef Bakrar vs. Toronto FC 7/26/23

The latest entrant to the first-start goalscoring club, Bakrar made an emphatic impression with his first goal in City colors.

The striker had shown flashes of the danger he can represent in a bench cameo vs. Atlas FC, and then went one step further against Toronto FC in Leagues Cup.

Pouncing on a rebound inside the penalty area, he produced a brilliant half-volley that flew past Sean Johnson in the Toronto goal. That helped NYCFC on their way to a 5-0 victory and qualification for the knockout stages of Leagues Cup.

So there you have it, no.9 makes it 9 For The City. Stay tuned for more Leagues Cup action next week when NYCFC will take on New England Revolution, Red Bulls, or Atletico San Luis.

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