Major Keys New England

Ten games to go…


New York City FC returns to action on home turf when the New England Revolution provide the opposition on Sunday evening in the Bronx.


Here’s Managing Editor Mark Booth with five things to look out for at Yankee Stadium…


Selection Dilemmas


We saw Rodney Wallace make his long-awaited return to action in La La Land last weekend following the adductor strain the Costa Rican suffered on international duty at the Gold Cup.


After another week of training, Wallace will be hoping to get the start on Sunday but that leaves Patrick Vieira with a dilemma to negotiate.


Positionally, Jonathan Lewis seems like the most obvious player Rodney would replace if he did return to the XI but the Rookie scored his first pro goal in that win at the StubHub Center and has seemingly grown in confidence every time we’ve seen him.


Alternatively, Wallace has played at left-back in the past and, with Ethan White out suspended, Ben Sweat could move out to the right side to fill in if Patrick decides to go down that route.


READ: Nine Reasons to Attend NYCFC vs. New England

Ring Replacements?


Patrick will be without the services of two players who have made big contributions so far in 2017.


As well as the afore-mentioned White, Alex Ring is also suspended for this game due to yellow card accumulation, meaning there will be at least two changes to the lineup on Sunday.


Mikey Lopez and Andrea Pirlo could be two potential replacements for Ring but with Maxi Moralez available again after serving his ban, could there be a reshuffle in the middle third?

Dangerous Opponent


Vieira and his team won’t place too much stoke on New England’s place in the standings (10th) or their recent struggles on the road because New England have proven to be something of a bogey team in recent times.


Only Red Bulls and Orlando have defeated NYCFC more than the three times Jay Heaps’ men have inflicted an L on the Boys in Blue in the last seven meetings.


A frustrating 2-2 tie in May will still rankle with the squad as it had seemed as though we were cruising to victory until Xavier Kouassi scored late on to deny NYCFC the full points quota.


Although New England are winless in their last 13 road games (10 L-3D), the team will not take this one lightly.


PHOTOS: NYCFC vs. New England – A Photo History

In Form


Last Saturday’s 2-0 victory over LA Galaxy was NYCFC’s 12th road win under Vieira, the most of any team since Patrick came into the league at the start of 2016.


Fortunately, our home form has been equally strong in recent times going into this one…


NYCFC are unbeaten in eight games in the Bronx – a run which stretches back as far as April – and this game follows arguably two of our greatest-ever games at Yankee Stadium.


That gutsy ten-man win over Chicago and the Hudson River Derby victory over Red Bulls were genuine “I was there” moments for those fans who attended – what will this clash with New England serve up?

Elsewhere…


Chicago’s defeat to Montreal on Wednesday has given NYCFC a little more breathing space in second place in the Eastern Conference and there could be an opportunity to look up the league this weekend…


Leaders Toronto travel to the Windy City on Saturday for a first vs. third clash at Toyota Park which could lead to there being just a one-point gap at the top by the end of MLS Week 24.


It could be a decisive win in the MLS Playoffs race but NYCFC will just concentrate on their own affairs and channel all focus on getting the W on Sunday night…


READ: In the News – Johnson and Lewis Shine vs. LA Galaxy

Major Keys: Who Replaces Ring in the Midfield? -