New York City FC hosts Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference semifinal second leg at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.
Looking to overturn a 4-1 first leg deficit, the Boys in Blue have their backs against the wall but will not go quietly into the good night.
Here’s Managing Editor Mark Booth with the Major Keys to the Match, presented by Tri-State Ford.
You only have to go back to 2016’s Decision Day for the perfect illustration of what’s required on Sunday.
Routing Columbus Crew 4-1, NYCFC went into their first Playoffs campaign on the crest of a wave, thanks in-no-small-part to three goals in 15 second half minutes.
Demonstrating the full weight of City’s attacking potential, Jack Harrison, Khiry Shelton and David Villa all netted between 75’ and 90’ to give us a result which would be enough to take the tie to extra-time on Sunday.
NYCFC know they have to score at least three goals to progress but they’ve done that on six occasions in 2017, meaning that anything is possible and we could yet find ourselves in the Conference final on the back of a strong performance and a fair wind.
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For students of the beautiful game, it’s an interesting tactical conundrum Patrick finds himself in when selecting his lineup and tactical approach.
Does the Frenchman go for the shock and awe approach and try to blow Columbus away straight out of the gate or does he play on the break and try to control the game, relying on the pace and power of our front six?
The temptation could be to throw the kitchen sink at The Crew to try and get the early goal to take the roof off Yankee Stadium but, inspired by the afore-mentioned late, late show in 2016, could Vieira opt for a more cautious approach this time to stay in the tie for as long as possible?
Last year, Toronto’s eighth-minute goal in the second leg effectively killed the tie and secured their progress… what lessons will those remaining members of the squad have learned from that experience? It’s going to be fascinating to see how it plays out.
If there’s one man in MLS capable of putting all of the pressure on himself and staying cool when others would flounder, it’s David Villa Sanchez.
In season-defining home wins over Chicago and Red Bulls, it was as if El Guaje simply decided that his team was ending the day victorious as he produced inhumanly epic performances, not just scoring, but covering every blade of grass – leading by example.
His record against Columbus was improved even further with his vital road goal on Tuesday, taking his tally vs. Major League Soccer’s first team to seven strikes in eight matches.
If anyone can, it’s David.
We know that Alexander Callens will not continue his record of starting every competitive game for NYCFC and in Five Things We Learned we speculated on his replacement but who else will get handed the jerseys?
Will we see Rookie Jonathan Lewis in the XI? Does Maxime Chanot have any shot of returning from injury? Does Ronald Matarrita come back in? We’ll let you know first here on NYCFC.com at approximately 4pm ET on Sunday.
Make sure to be one of the first 15,000 fans in attendance to receive a CrowdSync bracelet and be a part of our one of a kind pre-game show, courtesy of AT&T.
It’ll be the first display of its kind in Major League Soccer and, trust us, you’ll want to be part of it!
Let’s create an absolute cauldron of noise and roar our boys onto victory – it’s turnaround time!