Where does the time go?
It feels like only yesterday we were previewing the Home Opener vs. DC United back in March but here we are, on the MLS Regular Season’s home straight.
With just ten games remaining, New York City FC has everything still to play for in 2017 but let’s dive in to some of the key storylines we’re excited to see play out before the end of October…
Conquerors of NYCFC in the Playoffs last year, Greg Vanney’s men are motivated by their MLS Cup final defeat to Seattle and are deserved leaders in the Supporters’ Shield race after 24 games.
Looking to go one step further this year and lift the trophy for the first time in franchise history, there’s a wave of momentum behind the Canadian outfit who managed to take four points from two meetings with NYCFC this season, winning the series.
Unbeaten since the start of July, the rest of the league will be hoping that Toronto have peaked too early and will suffer a dip by the time the Playoffs roll around in the Fall.
The Final Derby
NYCFC clinched a series victory over Red Bulls for the first time in club history courtesy of the 3-2 comeback win at Yankee Stadium earlier this month.
Will they complete a series whitewash? We don’t have long to wait to find out!
The third and final Hudson River Derby of the Regular Season campaign is set for August 25 at Red Bull Arena – a stadium which hosted a first-ever win for the Boys in Blue in June.
As we saw in the tight Bronx showdown, Red Bulls have improved since that one-sided NYCFC win in New Jersey, so it seems likely to be another heart-stopping affair.
We can’t wait!
Golden Boot Race
Another game, another goal… David Villa continued his proud record of scoring in his every game against LA Galaxy to date at the weekend, extending his lead in the race for the Golden Boot in the process.
Now two goals clear of Nemanja Nikolic with 18 goals, David has consistently fired throughout the season and is only accelerating his scoring rate as the games go by and the stakes get higher.
His first MLS hat-trick came in the derby win over Red Bulls, giving him a shot at the all-time Regular Season scoring record…
With ten games remaining, El Guaje needs nine more to tie the record (27) jointly-held by Roy Lassiter, Chris Wondolowski and Bradley Wright-Phillips.
On current form, you’d be brave to bet against him…
Johnson for USMNT?
Sean Johnson has produced consistently high-level performances throughout his debut campaign in the Big Apple.
A great communicator and a leader on and off the field, Johnson has offered a calming presence between the posts which has transmitted itself across the backline and through the field.
However, ultimately, a goalkeeper is judged by keeping the round thing out of the goal and, by this metric, Johnson has also been an unqualified success, as he showed in his Man of the Match winning displays against FC Dallas and, most recently, LA Galaxy.
Sean was called up for the CONCACAF Gold Cup earlier in the summer but can we expect to see more of him in the Stars & Stripes setup? According to Johnson himself, it’s on him to show that he merits the shot.
He told reporters last weekend: “I spoke to [USMNT goalkeeper coach] Matt Reis after the game. He was here watching.
“I know Bruce and those guys are always watching games, so it’s not just this one, but it feels good to play a good game here in LA in front of those guys. I’m not really looking too far ahead to the national team, but obviously I want to be a part of that group and I got to keep doing what I can to make my case.”
The Next One
As ever, the next one is the most important one.
New England Revolution have got some ground to make up if they want to be in the post-season picture.
However, with three wins in their last four games, there are signs that Jay Heaps’ men have turned a corner, meaning they will arrive at Yankee Stadium aiming to take something back up to Massachusetts with them.
It’s always special hosting New England as it inevitably evokes memories of our Historic Home Opener in 2015 but since that 2-0 win we haven’t managed to defeat them in the Bronx.
Let’s hope that changes on Sunday…