New York City FC returns to action on Saturday afternoon with one of the games of the season so far.
Atlanta United are the visitors for this showdown between two of the league’s strongest sides in 2018.
Here are the Major Keys to the Match, presented by Tri-State Ford…
Top Spot Beckons
Just in case this game wasn’t mouthwatering enough already, the victors will go straight to the top of the Supporters’ Shield race, for a few hours at least…
Only Sporting KC would be capable of going ahead of NYCFC this weekend if the Boys in Blue can continue their proud winning home record.
It won’t be easy… Atlanta come into this one on a hot streak, following Wednesday’s 3-0 US Open Cup victory over Charleston Battery and last weekend’s 3-1 win over nine-man Philadelphia.
We were treated to an instant MLS classic when these teams met at the Mercedes Benz Stadium earlier this season.
In a game best-remembered for Alex Ring’s SportCenter-crashing golazo, it finished 2-2 which was a fair result on the balance of play in a breathless, end-to-end clash.
In our short history of games vs. the Five Stripes, entertainment has not been in short supply, with four goals scored in each of the previous three games.
Same again this time around?
NYCFC set a club record for consecutive home league wins with victory over Orlando City last weekend.
Over the course of those six games, City have outscored opponents 18 goals to 2, allowing multiple goals just once over our last 11 at Yankee Stadium.
This will be our toughest test yet though, as we look to extend the winning record to seven, with Atlanta going 4W 1D in their last five on the road.
There was more bad news for the club on the day following our US Open Cup exit in New Jersey.
Yangel Herrera’s injury sustained at Houston two weeks ago has proved to be a season-ender, after the Venezuelan underwent surgery on the ankle damaged by Alejandro Fuenmayor’s challenge.
It’s a real blow to NYCFC and to the 20-year old but who will come in to replace him on Saturday?
Ebenezer Ofori and Tommy McNamara will both be hoping to fill in as like-for-like replacements but Patrick Vieira has shown he is willing to think outside the box when it comes to formations and selections in recent weeks.
We’ll let you know who gets the nod here on NYCFC.com at approximately 11.30am on Saturday.
Maxi x David
Stats back up what NYCFC fan eyes could have told us… Maxi Moralez and David Villa are a dynamite combination.
Since Moralez came to the league in 2017, the pair have proved to be the league’s most creative duo, making 46 chances for one another.
No pair in MLS has been more mutually beneficial for one another in that timespan when it comes to chances created, with FC Dallas pair Michael Barrios and Maximiliano Urruti their nearest rivals with 12 fewer opportunities carved out between them.
Maxi has been NYCFC’s chief architect since the start of 2017, making 118 chances for teammates, 34 clear of Villa, his nearest rival.
Basically, all hail Spidey!