David Villa will miss the showdown with Columbus Crew SC through illness.
The 35-year old is omitted from the squad for the first time since he was suspended in June 2016, meaning reigning USL MVP Sean Okoli makes his first NYCFC start.
Villa travelled to Columbus despite his illness and came close to making the 18 but narrowly missed out and will stay in the team hotel to continue his recovery.
Head Coach Patrick Vieira explained: "He didn't train at all, all week. He had a small session yesterday by himself with one of the coaches and he was feeling good.
"We brought him with us to see how he's going to get but this morning he wasn't feeling well enough to depart for the game.
"Rodney is very important for us up front and Ben has been doing very well in training lately. There's no reason why I wouldn't start him today - he's ready to play and I think that will give me good information about him. On preseason, he played some games where he played well, so to see him in a competitive game is going to be good."
That’s one of three changes to the NYCFC lineup which went down 2-1 to Orlando at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, as Yangel Herrera comes in for his first start and Ben Sweat debuts in place of the injured Ronald Matarrita.
It looks as though NYCFC will play in their traditional 4-3-3 formation, with Herrera and Alex Ring anchoring midfield behind Maxi Moralez, Jack Harrison, Rodney Wallace and Okoli.
NYCFC XI: Johnson, White, Chanot (C), Callens, Sweat, Ring, Herrera, Moralez, Harrison, Wallace, Okoli
NYCFC Subs: Johansen, Allen, Brillant, Camargo, Pirlo, Stertzer, McNamara