(Sean Johnson – @NYCFC)
New York City FC today announced that Alex Callens, Sean Johnson and Alex Ring have all agreed to new long-term contracts with the Club. The trio will remain in New York City for 2019 and beyond after agreeing to terms on multi-year deals.
All three players, key figures in the NYCFC locker room, joined the Club ahead of the 2017 MLS season and have since gone on to make a combined 190 appearances across all competitions.
The signings are a critical development in continuing to create a foundation for the future, according to Sporting Director Claudio Reyna, who said, “All three are entering the prime years of their careers, so it’s fantastic to keep consistency and stability within the team. It’s exciting news for all of us to tie them down to long-term deals.”
Callens, Johnson and Ring are vital components to the spine of the team and have played pivotal roles in City’s successful spell the past two seasons.
“They’re leaders off the field and they’ve been top professionals from the first day they arrived,” said Reyna. “They’ve elevated our Club with their professionalism and determination to make themselves, this Club and this team better and better.”
Known amongst fans as “NYCFC’s Iron Man,” Callens began his NYCFC career showing off his metal. Beginning March 5, 2017, the Peruvian went on a a remarkable run of 3,585 consecutive minutes played in MLS regular season matches. During that span, Callens helped anchor a defense which kept 10 clean sheets.
Callens has also contributed at the other end of the pitch throughout his time in New York. In 65 matches with the Club, the central defender has found the back of the net three times, most recently to earn a 1-1 draw with Atlanta United on June 9.
His stellar play recently earned him an opportunity to represent Peru once again at the international level.
Callens said, “I am very happy, very happy that the Club has confidence in me and I think the only way to repay that is to work at 100% and give it my all. The fans have always supported me, they’re always cheering us on, in the bad times and the good, they are always there supporting. That gives us confidence, and when we go out on the field we hope to give them joy.”
Sean Johnson has seen his career elevate since joining City in 2017. Johnson matched a career high in shutouts in his first season with seven, something the U.S. international hadn’t done since 2011 with the Chicago Fire. The shot-stopper’s form in the first half of 2017 saw him return to the U.S. Men’s National Team for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Johnson’s 2018 campaign has built off his 2017 success. For the first time in his career, Johnson has kept double-digit clean sheets (10). In July, Johnson broke Club records by going 396 consecutive minutes without conceding a goal which included four shutouts.
Johnson said, “I knew that once I played my first game with the club, it was somewhere I wanted to be for a very long time. Everybody from the organizational side has made me feel at home: the fans, the front office and my teammates. For me, the commitment, with us three going forward, the expectations is always to lift trophies. I think us three kind of embody that and we want to spread that. Hopefully, we are here for a very long time and we are able to instill those things in anybody that comes into the Club from here on out.”
Alex Ring became the fifth NYCFC player to be selected to an MLS All-Star team in 2018. Known league-wide for solidifying the spine of the City squad, the Finnish midefielder has shown his versatility by playing as a make-shift center back at times as well as scoring two goals playing in more forward positions.
Ring’s two goals in City blue have come in crucial moments in their respective matches. Trailing by a goal in hostile confines at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ring sent a rocket past Brad Guzan as City came from behind to earn a point against Atlanta United. His second goal turned out to be the one that clinched City’s spot in the 2018 playoffs.
Ring said, “I am very happy with the way the Club and the fans have taken care of me and my family. The way they have embraced us – it wasn’t a big decision for me to continue here and sign with this great club. Just like I said once I signed here for the first time, I don’t do a lot of talking outside of the pitch, I try to do it on the field and I try to represent my Club the best I can and I think that’s what they also appreciate. I am maybe not the most technical guy, but they know I’m going to play my heart out on the pitch. I just want to thank the fans for acknowledging that and always pushing me and the team.”
Reyna added about how these three will continue to help him create the organization he wants to build, “Not just in MLS, players generally are moving clubs more and more, so being able to keep consistency in the spine of our roster is huge. To be able to keep these three players allows us to keep consistent voices in the locker room, players who know what this Club is about and the culture that we’ve built. When new players arrive to the club, they’ll know we have three leaders and top quality professionals to listen to and to follow.”
Johnson and Ring will be supporting Soccer Day in New York City on Monday October 15, when 10 more New York City Soccer Initiative mini-soccer pitches come online across the five boroughs, as part of the partnership between NYCFC, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Etihad Airways and adidas.