In seasons past, criticism for Alex Muyl was in fashion. Many wrote off the Manhattan homegrown for his frantic style and lack of finishing. Former coach Jesse Marsch would defend Muyl repeatedly from the prodding questions of the press corps.
Marsch even went so far as to compare Muyl to Yusuf Poulsen of RB Leipzig, whom he now oversees in the Bundesliga. Current manager Chris Armas repeatedly defended Muyl as well. And now, more than ever, he is living up to the hype. His brace in the home opener opened the floodgates for a 4-1 win against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Since signing a homegrown contract before the 2016 season, Muyl has made 89 appearances. Often coming off the bench, he is credited as a ‘super sub,’ but expectations remained low. Regularly tasked with running interference in the midfield, and doing the majority of his work off the ball. The evidence lies in his number of fouls committed and offside calls. But in two games this season, he has already equaled his rookie season goal total.
Armas reiterated his belief in Muyl’s ability. “What you guys see in moments– you get a treat on game day. We get to see it every day, how much he gives to the team,” he said in the post match press conference. As for Muyl himself, he has learned to go along for the ride with the team, whether that means he starts the game on the field, comes off the bench, or does not make the 18-man roster (as was the case in CONCACAF Champions League second leg against Santos).
In an interview following the match, he simply stated, “I’m just really glad I got an opportunity to do something.”
In its own way, of greatest importance is increasing recognition from fans. It may be time for a new fashion to emerge: one where the kind of player fans have been looking for is the one that has been here the whole time. Homegrown players are lauded as the stars of the future. For Alex Muyl, perhaps, the future has arrived.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography