New York City FC are on their travels this week as they face Chicago Fire on Wednesday night.
Here’s the Keys to the Match, presented by Tri-State Ford…
On the surface, Chicago Fire may not seem like the most dangerous attacking side. The team currently has 18 goals for the season, the fourth-lowest in the Eastern Conference (joint fifth overall).
When you delve deeper, however, you start to realize that the Fire have been somewhat unlucky this season. Ronny Deila acknowledged that fact in his pre-match press conference.
“Chicago has been the team that beside ourselves has gotten too little out of how they have performed and the chances they’ve had,” he said.
This is best evidenced during the team’s 2-1 defeat to Toronto FC late last month. The Fire had an impressive 31 attempts at goal compared to TFC’s 8, clocking up an xG of 3.6 to TFC’s 0.6. They lost the game 2-1.
As we saw with NYCFC earlier this season, a team producing good chances will score goals, and for that reason, the Boys in Blue should not take their opponents lightly on Wednesday night.
The Boys Are Back
One of the many impressive things about NYCFC’s recent run of form is that they’ve done it without James Sands and Sean Johnson available.
The duo are key players, both on and off the field, but they will now return to the fold after celebrating a momentous Gold Cup victory over Mexico on Sunday night in Las Vegas. Ronny Deila has understandably been coy on what level of involvement they will have on Wednesday.
Regardless, adding those two voices back to the group can only be seen as a benefit, and with games coming thick and fast it will be a great opportunity to further boost the team’s depth.
The victory against Columbus Crew is certainly one of NYCFC’s more impressive results this season. To beat the defending MLS Cup champions so convincingly was an important moment for a team that has shown such early promise.
The game also saw a first MLS goal for Santíago Rodriguez, and Ronny Deila has certainly been encouraged by the play of the Uruguayan along with other new faces.
Having a squad pushing for starts and challenging each other is great in terms of maintaining a high-standard, and one of Deila’s many weapons is his ability to rotate and not see a drop in quality.
"Santi is a player who is ready for the level," Deila said. "He’s coming into games now and doing better and better. He’s not long away from a start – maybe on Wednesday, we’ll see. He’s a very similar to Maxi Moralez, he’s very good between the lines, has a good understanding of the game, and can press to win balls with good legs. He’s very difficult to handle in the last third of the pitch."