Player to Watch: New York City FC Sign Justin Haak
Not even able to vote or drink, 17-year-old Justin Haak has signed his first professional contract with the New York City FC. A defender on the U.S. Boys U16 and U18 Men’s National Team, Haak is clearly a player to watch.
Dreams really do come true, at least for those with talent and the discipline to work to reach their goals.
There are millions of youth soccer players in the USA. Tens of thousands of them, if not more, dream big dreams of lacing up their cleats one day, wearing a professional jersey and walking out on the pitch with a pro team and playing in a packed stadium.
Today, more of these dreams are coming true for top players at MLS academies across the USA. While these talented teenagers may not be stepping on the pitch right away and earning minutes in a match, they are one step closer to being the pro they have always dreamed of — and, the MLS Academies are happy because signing their Academy players is proof of a job well done.
Everyone’s goal is signing homegrown talent
Just recently, this dream came happened for 17-year-old New York City native Justin Haak who became New York City FC’s third-ever Homegrown Player to graduate from the Academy to the first team squad, following James Sands and Joe Scally.
Born in the East Village of New York City, Haak response to joining the ranks of pro was clear joy.
“It’s hard to describe,” Haak said about signing a professional contract for NYCFC.
“You dream about it almost your whole life and then what it actually comes – you almost can’t believe it.”
“When NYCFC was first announced, I knew I wanted to play for the professional team in my own city that I’ve grown up in. It was an amazing chance for me and I just wanted to be a part of it.”
Haak began with the Club’s first ever Academy side, the U-14s in 2015, and progressed through the entire pathway, ultimately helping win the Generation adidas Cup in 2017 and the USDA National Championship in 2018.
One of the players called up by Shaun Tsakiris to U.S. U-16 Boys National Team camp, Haak has been a consistent player making his mark on the pitch.
“NYCFC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna broke the news to me – we were getting something to eat and he just told me, ‘We’re going to offer you a Homegrown contract.’ I just didn’t know what to say – but I was just crazy happy.”
“Justin is an amazing and smart kid whose story is a special one for New York City FC,” Reyna said. “He is one of the original Academy members who joined our U-14s in 2015 and as a Brooklyn native, he’s our Club’s first ever signing from the five boroughs.”
“When I personally shared the news of his Homegrown contract to him over lunch, I’ll never forget the look on his face. Justin is a talented player and an incredible person, and I’m thrilled to see him sign his first professional contract with us and look forward to seeing his continued growth with NYCFC throughout the coming years.”
He’s been capped at the international level with the U.S. U18s and helped them win the International Youth Tournament of Vaclav Jezek in the Czech Republic last August.
NYCFC head coach Doménec Torrent said, “This is an incredible opportunity for Justin. He trained with us in the first team last season and performed very well. Graduating from our youth academy is a great achievement. Homegrown talent is so important to a football club. We are excited to have Justin join the first team and we’re ready to help him develop his game at the next level.”
One interesting fact is that Haak only focused on soccer after he broke his arm practicing gymnastics. As a yong youth player, Haak played for six years for the Chelsea Piers Soccer Club of the Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League (CJSL) and was reconized for his talent even on his U8 team by his coach Ron Restrepo, who is now the CJSL President.
Now ten years older that those days as a U18, the Met-Oval product attended NYCFC pre-season camp last year, and impressed in friendly matches vs. LA Galaxy and Atlético San Luis.
Name: Justin Haak
Weight: 165 lbs
Date of Birth: 09/12/2001
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Citizenship: United States
How Acquired: Homegrown contract from NYCFC Academy
New York City Football Club was announced as the League’s 20th franchise on May 21, 2013, and is the first and only MLS Club located within the five boroughs of New York City.
Majority owned by City Football Group (CFG), New York City FC plays its home games at Yankee Stadium, which is also home to minority owner, the New York Yankees.