New York City FC are on the road this weekend with a game against Columbus Crew.
Here’s the Keys to the Match, presented by Tri-State Ford…
Learn Your Lesson
New York City FC’s last meeting with Columbus Crew was a frustrating experience for Ronny Deila and his players.
The Boys in Blue were on course for an impressive 1-0 win against the Crew when a set-piece salvo from Lucas Zelarayán turned the game on its head and saw Caleb Porter’s side emerge 2-1 winners.
Prior to that NYCFC had done a solid job of limiting their opponent’s freekick opportunities in dangerous positions, and it’s telling that the two Crew goals game from freekicks earned close to goal in a central position (the xG for the game finished in NYCFC’s favor too).
It will be vital that NYCFC learn from this and limit any opportunities in this area so that Zelarayán has as few opportunities as possible to find the net. The playmaker will likely be playing in a slightly different role in the absence of Gyasi Zardes, as Jacob Myers explained in The Away End.
“With Zardes out for Gold Cup, likely until Aug. 1, and the lack of a reliable striker option right now, I think Zelarayan will play higher up the field and not track back as much defensively like he did against FC Cincinnati,” Myers said. “That was the first game he scored since that sensational performance against NYCFC, but he has continued to play well. He’ll be expected to do more with Zardes out, but he needs help from wingers Pedro Santos and Alex Matan as well.”
Seize The Opportunity
NYCFC will welcome back Alex Callens from international duty this weekend, but they will still be without James Sands and Sean Johnson as they remain with the United States Men’s National Team.
Ronny Deila made a handful of changes against CF Montréal last time out, and he may look to make more this weekend.
The competition for places at NYCFC is always high, and that’s evidenced by the intensity of training. The Club’s head coach has stressed the importance of a deep squad throughout the season, and now there is ample opportunity for those players on the edge of the starting XI to boost their case for more regular minutes.
Ready, Set, Go
One of the major positives of NYCFC’s last meeting with Columbus Crew was how the team started the game.
The Boys in Blue took the lead in the 18th minute through Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, and as Jacob Myers explained in The Away End this week, a fast start could be vital for NYCFC.
“The defense has allowed several goals in the opening 20 minutes of games this year, and the back line will not be at full strength because of a red card against FC Cincinnati, Saad Abdul-Salaam will likely start at right back in place of Harrison Afful," he said. "Center back Vito Wormgoor has struggled in his starts this year as well.”