New York City FC are back in the groove on Wednesday night when Sporting KC make their biannual visit to Yankee Stadium.
It’s an intriguing matchup for all manner of reasons but where will it be won or lost? Here’s Managing Editor Mark Booth with five Major Keys to the Match…
The timing of this one is far from ideal for NYCFC given the international break.
However, where one doors closes, another one opens… meaning there will be chances for others in Patrick Vieira’s squad to stake their claims for more minutes in the remaining weeks of the season.
The injury which David Villa sustained on international duty will be assessed by NYCFC’s medical team before a prognosis is released but El Guaje seems unlikely to be involved against Sporting KC on Wednesday.
Spain Head Coach Julen Lopetegui told reporters that he wouldn’t be surprised if Villa was fit in time for Saturday’s game against Portland Timbers but, while we wait and see, Sean Ugo Okoli is one candidate to come in and deputize.
Okoli has looked dangerous in his recent cameos from the bench, helping to turn the tide in NYCFC’s favor on more than one occasion.
What could he do with a start? It’s possible we could find out on Wednesday – unless Patrick throws in a curve ball which is also entirely possible!
In the meantime, we’ll have the official word on the extent of David’s injury on Tuesday.
Sands of Time
On the subject of opportunities…
At Patrick Vieira’s Chalk Talk at NYCFC House on Sunday, the Frenchman hinted that NYCFC’s first-ever Homegrown Player James Sands could be named in a matchday squad for the very first time on Wednesday.
Needless to say, if he takes to the field, Sands would be the youngest player to ever play for the club, so those attending could have front row seats to yet another historic moment at Yankee Stadium.
Just another incentive to come along and lend your support!
Heat is On
Chicago Fire managed to trim the space between themselves and NYCFC in second place at the weekend thanks to their 1-0 road win over Montreal Impact.
Now there are just three points between second and third place, although we can double that if we clinch the W on Wednesday night.
We’re entering the final straight of the Regular Season now and that MLS Playoffs picture gets clearer with each passing week.
Toronto are looking invincible at present, so that top spot may prove to be irretrievable but the battle for the second automatic Eastern Conference will be intense.
A win on Wednesday would provide some serious breathing space with the games running out…
Make no mistake, Sporting KC will provide a stiff examination of NYCFC’s credentials.
Peter Vermes’ men are just two points off the top of the Western Conference with multiple games in hand on the two teams above them.
Arriving in the Bronx on the back of a victory over FC Dallas, KC will be full of confidence but it’s also worth keeping in mind that Sporting have only won one of their last nine Regular Season road games (5L – 3D) and NYCFC are unbeaten in nine straight home games (7W-2D), a franchise best home unbeaten streak in a single Regular Season.
Yep, it’s a tough one to call!