New York City FC return to the Bronx for their home opener of the 2021 MLS season against FC Cincinnati.

Here are the Keys to the Match, presented by Tri-State Ford…

577 Days Later

While the result was tough to take last weekend, it was beautiful to hear the action soundtracked by a real crowd. Yankee Stadium is set to have fans in attendance for an NYCFC game on Saturday for the first time in 577 days, and that alone will make it a wonderful event. You can bet the fans in attendance will make it a special occasion for the players, who will feed off that energy.

Technology can do a lot of things, but it cannot reproduce the feeling that a live crowd gives you.

A Test of Character

It was clear from the moment Sean Johnson sat down for his post-match press conference following the opening day defeat to D.C. United he was unhappy. The 31-year-old did not want his tenure as club captain to begin like this, and there was an assertiveness in his voice that conveyed his frustration. Those sentiments were shared by Head Coach Ronny Deila as the pair avoided any chance to make excuses for the performance.

Hernan Losada talked down his side’s chances in the build-up to the game, but the fact he had already tested his side against NYCFC certainly gave him a slight advantage. An impressive first-strike followed by a well-worked second from Russell Canouse left a bitter taste in the mouth of the Boys in Blue, and they’ll be itching to make it right at home.

A lot was made of the positive atmosphere in the camp during preseason, and this is a great opportunity to show that togetherness in full effect.

Brenner Watch

FC Cincinnati’s big move in this offseason was the signing of Brazilian attacker Brenner. The 21-year-old from Cuiabá scored his first goal for Cincy last week against Nashville SC after joining alongside their other major signing, Luciano Acosta. The pair are expected to revamp Cincy’s attack, and as journalist Laurel Pfhaler explained to us, they’re still building up fluency on the pitch.

“With some time, they should be able to sort that out,” she said. “The two already are close off the pitch, and Acosta has been instrumental in helping Brenner adapt in a foreign country for the first time in his young career. Acosta is the lone player that speaks Portuguese, so that is helpful for Brenner having his No. 10 be that guy he can really communicate with well.”

Jaap Stam will hope the former São Paulo striker can be a difference-maker this weekend, and it’ll be up to NYCFC’s backline to make sure that doesn’t happen.

NYCFC’s home opener takes place on Saturday, April 24 against FC Cincinnati at Yankee Stadium. The game kicks off at 1:00PM EST on the YES Network. Get your tickets by hitting the link below.

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