New York City Football Club are back on the road this weekend as they take on Portland Timbers.
The Boys in Blue travel to Oregon in a 10:30pm ET kick-off at Providence Park, looking to build on a midweek draw against Atlanta United.
Here are the Keys to the Match, presented by Ford…
On the road again…
The Boys in Blue will hardly have had chance to drop their bags before they are heading back to the airport.
This time Nick Cushing’s men travel to Oregon to take on the Portland Timbers. The team from the Rose City will always hold a special fondness for NYCFC as it was against the Timbers that we claimed our maiden MLS Cup title.
Cushing’s focus will firmly be on the present, however, with the team in need of a win to kickstart their road campaign. City came close to claiming that victory midweek against Atlanta United, but for an injury-time header from Nick Firmino, which leveled the scores in the 95th minute.
The Timbers also conceded a late goal during their midweek clash, with Kei Kamara’s header handing Chicago Fire a 2-1 road win. That result saw the Timbers slip below the playoff line and means both teams will be brimming with motivation to snatch all three points when they meet on Saturday night.
Four on Three
A fascinating tactical battle is set to unfold at Providence Park.
Nick Cushing has utilized several different formations while in charge of NYCFC, but lately, he has preferred a back-three system.
His opposite number, Giovanni Savarese, has predominantly used a 4-2-3-1 formation of late, but for a brief experiment with 4-4-2 against the San Jose Earthquakes. These contrasting systems will create numerous tactical matchups and differences, not least of all impacting how both teams build up their attacks.
By using a back three, NYCFC will have the ability to make the pitch wide and create overloads down the flanks. Portland will be keen to stay defensively narrow to avoid creating space in behind or down the side of the central defenders.
Ultimately, the three points may go to the team that finds the most success in exerting their own tactical plan on proceedings, making it a fascinating contest to watch.
The first signing Portland made during the offseason saw playmaker Evander arrive from Danish outfit FC Midtjylland.
The Brazilian was signed as a Designated Player in December after several seasons playing in Europe.
The former Vasco da Gama attacker was tasked with boosting the team’s offense, and he currently leads the Timbers for goal involvements with seven.
Positionally, Evander tends to sit behind the striker in a more traditional number 10 role – either scoring goals himself or creating opportunities for the striker in front of him. NYCFC will need to limit his involvement in the final third if they are to keep a clean sheet with the Brazilian posing an interesting test for the team’s backline.
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