New York City FC are on the road Tuesday night as they take on New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference semifinal.
Hi Kyle, thanks for speaking with us. How long have you been covering soccer?
I'm approaching two decades now. It's scary to contemplate.
What’s been your favorite moment covering soccer?
It's difficult for me to boil it down to one moment. I have always thought you needed to cover matches in person to really provide readers with a valuable perspective. Fortunately, I have spent a large portion of my career working for editors and outlets willing to back those ambitions. I have covered everything from CONCACAF Champions League finals to MLS Cups to Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup finals to UEFA Champions League finals to U.S. national team games on three continents. More than anything, I remember the people who have shared their perspectives over the years and the people behind the scenes who work remarkably long hours to support them. We are exceedingly fortunate to have coaches, executives, and players in American soccer who are generally willing to share their experiences.
New England enjoyed a strong regular season under Bruce Arena. What do you feel has been central to the team's success under Arena?
Arena -- perhaps better than anyone in the history of this league -- places his players in positions where they can succeed and then trusts them to deliver. This group posted the best regular-season record in MLS history because it received excellent production from its stars and valuable contributions from players all the way through the squad. The starting XI -- the most important group in the postseason -- is particularly strong, but It isn't about just one or two standouts in New England. This success story continues because the collective shares a strong bond and stands atop a firm platform for success.
The two teams have met three times this season. What are your predictions for Tuesday?
I don't really think those three meetings offer much in the way of insight into the game ahead on Tuesday. This is a one-off tie in the playoffs. It is a completely different set of circumstances to those regular season matches.
If you were to identify New England's dangerman, who would that be?
Everything starts with Carles Gil. He's the captain and the presumptive MLS MVP for a reason. He sets the tone for the Revs with his intelligence on the ball and his work rate off of it. He boasts particularly good chemistry with Gustavo Bou, but he continually opens up the game for the Revs when he carves out of an opportunity to do so. NYCFC must find a way to limit his influence on the game in order to have a chance to advance.
Are there any weaknesses you think NYCFC can exploit?
It's difficult to pick out a weakness for the best regular season team in MLS history, but here are a couple of circumstances worth monitoring: (1) New England hasn't played a competitive game since Nov. 7; and (2) this Revs team spent most of this season playing and winning close matches (17 one-goal wins, a new MLS single-season record). In a one-off tie, the prospect of a narrowly decided game with a shortage of match practice creates the potential for one bad bounce or one unexpected moment to determine the outcome.**
And finally, for anyone that may be in the area for the game, are there any attractions you'd suggest they check out?
If supporters are planning to make the trip in a day (and it's a pretty straightforward trek to make if you time the traffic correctly and keep an open mind on the routes through Connecticut), I'd strongly recommend heading straight to Gillette Stadium. Patriot Place has plenty of shops and restaurants to soak up a few hours before kickoff, but there's plenty of room to tailgate in the lots as well. Don't try to head into Boston earlier in the day and then trek out to Foxboro unless you build in a lot of extra time to account for traffic.