Sean Ugo Okoli leads the line for New York City FC tonight in the Bronx.
The 24-year old's inclusion is one of five changes to the team which started the 1-1 draw at Red Bull Arena before the international break.
Due to a combination of injuries, internationals and suspensions, it’s a much-changed XI which Patrick Vieira selects for tonight’s game versus Sporting KC.
As well as Okoli, who comes in for the injured David Villa, RJ Allen, Tommy McNamara, Andrea Pirlo and Jonathan Lewis come into an NYCFC side looking to preserve a nine-match unbeaten run at Yankee Stadium.
James Sands, the Club’s first-ever Homegrown Player, is named in a matchday squad for the very first time, starting the night on the bench where he’s joined by Kwame Awuah, John Stertzer and Khiry Shelton.
McNamara captains NYCFC in the absence of Villa as part of a midfield also containing Pirlo and Argentine playmaker Maxi Moralez, who scored last time out vs. Red Bulls.
Okoli is flanked by Lewis and Jack Harrison as NYCFC takes on a Sporting KC side who can move to the top of the Western Conference with a victory.
This match came too soon for our newest recruit Andraz Struna, who is awaiting his P1 Visa.
NYCFC XI: Johnson, Sweat, Callens, Brillant, Allen, McNamara (C), Pirlo, Moralez, Harrison, Lewis, Okoli
NYCFC Subs: Johansen, Rawls, Awuah, Sands, Stertzer, Shelton
- This will be the third ever meeting between the two teams. Sporting Kansas City won both of the first two games, including a 1-0 victory in Yankee Stadium on March 28th, 2015, in just the second ever NYCFC home game.
- NYCFC are unbeaten in nine straight home games (7W-2D), a franchise best home unbeaten streak in a single regular season, and approaching the franchise regular season record (11 games between 6/18/2016 and 4/1/2017).
- Sporting have only won once in their last nine MLS regular season road games (5L-3D). They have failed to score in six of these games.
- Maxi Moralez’ goal against the Red Bulls was his second in his last six league appearances after taking 16 games to get his first two MLS goals.
- In the 14 games Dom Dwyer had started for Sporting Kansas City this year, they averaged 1.9 points per game. In the 11 games that SKC has not included Dwyer in their starting lineup this season, that number falls down to 1.3 points per game.
- NYCFC have scored the most goals of any team in the league between the 61st and 75th minute of matches this year (13). Sporting Kansas City have conceded the fewest goals in that segment of matches in the league this year (two).
- Graham Zusi had two assists in Sporting’s 2-0 win over FC Dallas on August 19th. It was his first time in 53 regular season MLS appearances recording multiple assists (last happened on May 29th, 2015, also against FC Dallas).
- NYCFC allowed 21 Red Bull shots in their last game, tied for the fifth most shots they’ve ever faced in a regular season game where they conceded one goal or fewer (49 such games.)
- Jack Harrison (44) and David Villa (40) have each completed more than 40 dribble so far this season, just two of nine MLS players to have done so at this point in the season. There has only been one other instance of an NYCFC player completing 40 or more dribbles in a single MLS season (Kwadwo Poku in 2015).
- Ilie Sanchez has completed 1,437 passes so far this season, the fourth most of any player in MLS.