NYCFC return to MLS action on Saturday afternoon when Seattle Sounders hit the Bronx.
To get you pumped, Managing Editor Mark Booth picks out six Major Keys to the Match…
Picking Ourselves Up
It’s not how hard you fall, but how fast you get up.
That’s the message Patrick Vieira will be delivering to his players following a disappointing defeat at Red Bull Arena.
Thankfully, NYCFC have an opportunity to flush that US Open Cup exit right out of the collective system when Seattle Sounders come to town on Saturday afternoon.
Yankee Stadium has become something of a fortress for NYCFC in the last 12 months, with the home team losing just one Regular Season game in the last 15 in the Bronx (11W 3D).
Back in the comforts of home, we hope that a return to winning ways is on the cards, as well as a cathartic release of midweek frustrations.
Ring of Power
One of few men in sky blue to leave Red Bull Arena with his reputation enhanced, Alex Ring continues to blow minds in his first season at NYCFC.
The Finland international midfielder was one of the best players on the field in New Jersey, winning the ball back countless times for his team, his lungbusting energy influential in the attempts to turn the tide.
Ring leads MLS in tackles (59), as well as tackles won (42), so the numbers certainly seem to back up what our eyes have seen anecdotally over his first 15 games for the club.
If NYCFC are to inflict a defeat on Seattle, it’s likely that Alex will have had a big say in this mouthwatering clash.
The Two Maxi’s
Vieira pointed to Maxi Moralez’s enforced withdrawal as the turning point in the defeat to Red Bulls.
Without the diminutive Argentine playmaker who left the field after sustaining an injury, the away team struggled to play through the lines and push back the Red Bulls press.
Maxime Chanot has also been a key contributor in the early months of the season, so it was no surprise that the Luxembourgian was a big miss for the boys in blue as a hamstring injury sustained on international duty ruled him out.
We’ll have an update on the likelihood of both players taking to the field on Saturday in our Injury Report feature posted here on NYCFC.com on Friday afternoon.
Back in the Fold
If neither make it for Saturday, NYCFC should at least be boosted by the return of six players who missed the midweek defeat for varying reasons.
International duty with Costa Rica meant that Ronald Matarrita and Rodney Wallace both missed out, while Yangel Herrera is also back in town after captaining Venezuela to the final of the U20 World Cup.
Andrea Pirlo is back in contention after his knee injury and Miguel Camargo is also in with a good chance of making the 18 after following his return from Panama.
Suddenly that depth chart looks a whole lot healthier…
Champions in Town
Seattle’s MLS Cup defense may not have gotten off to the perfect start but the reigning champions have rediscovered their swagger in recent weeks.
Brian Schmetzer’s men have won four of their last five games going into this Yankee Stadium showdown, defeating Houston Dynamo and Portland Timbers in their last two.
NYCFC will do well to be prepared for an aerial assault on Saturday – 39% of Seattle’s goals have come via set pieces, including four from corners, while six of their total goals have come directly from headers.
Sounders won 3-1 on their only previous visit to the Bronx but much has changed since that 2015 meeting…
Of course we’re marking Pride Day on Saturday with a celebration of equality, inclusivity and respect.
Every ticket sold via this Pride link will see a $5 donation to support the Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) and CITC initiative.
HMI provides young members of the LGBTQ with a supportive community that fosters positive youth development with pioneering programs that promote physical health and mental well-being, emotional resilience, academic achievement, job readiness, and artistic/cultural creativity.
An auction will be held following the match to support the HMI-led workshops, including NYCFC first team gear and jerseys, as well as the rainbow colored corner flags which will be on display at the stadium.
We’ll also be selling a special limited edition Pride-themed scarf at our stores, so arrive early at the stadium to make sure you get yours!