Through Josh’s Eyes: Youness Mokhtar

YOUNESS MOKHTAR
Age at MLS Cup: 29
Hometown: Utrecht, Netherlands

ALL COMPETITIONS IN 2020:
Games: 19
Starts: 10
Minutes: 805
Goals: 3
Assists: 1

After signing with the Crew in the summer of 2019, Youness gave the Crew another skillful winger who liked to cut inside, much in the way that Pedro Santos does. In 2020, the Crew offset that pair of pocket wingers with a pair of speedsters in Luis Diaz and Derrick Etienne Jr. It was a formidable quartet. Mokhtar shined during the resumption of MLS play in the Orlando bubble, scoring against Cincinnati and Atlanta. He played a big role in launching the Crew off to a good start when the season picked back up, thereby putting the club on a championship trajectory.

THROUGH JOSH’S EYES

“Youness is one of the funniest guys on the team. He’s a riot, man. He’s so funny. He’s got this European sense of humor to him. Sometimes he’ll ask what’s the word for this? He doesn’t quite know how to pull off the joke, but once he knows the word, you can see it add up. I wish I remember the exact joke, but during the CBA negotiations he had something about us bowling and going on strike. He didn’t know the term, so he asked, and then he put it in the group chat and how he worded it was just hilarious. Just a great locker room guy. He’s a guy on the team thread who’s always putting in a joke.

“He’s had a lot of experience playing in Europe and Saudi Arabia. He’s played all over the world. On the field, I think he was different from some of the wingers we had. He wasn’t a guy who was going to get behind with speed. He was more of a pocket player. There were days where he would get the ball and you just couldn’t take it from him. He had some of the best foot skills on the team. He has incredible dribbling ability. And then in front of the goal, he’d give you a couple big goals a year. He was big in the MLS is Back Tournament.

“He caught the injury bug and I think that threw off his timing and rhythm a little bit toward the latter half of the season. I feel like at that point, we kind of had a set lineup and ran with it. He got a little bit of the short end of the stick there because he’s a talent. If Pedro, Luis, Derrick and those guys weren’t playing at such a high level, he’s someone you’d want coming into any game. He’s the type of player who can change a game with one play. By the time he got back, we were clicking on all cylinders. It’s unfortunate in a way, because I’ve been there before where you have the talent to be in games, but if the guys in your position are playing well and the team is winning games, not a lot of coaches are going to change things around, no matter who you are. So in that sense, it was unfortunate for him because he has a crazy amount of natural talent.

“It was a pleasure to be around him. Another good teammate. He kept guys laughing a lot.”

[NOTE: To see a clickable list of earlier installments of this Josh Williams series or other MLS Cup related posts, please click HERE.]

******

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