Andraz Struna will make his first start as NYCFC entertain Houston Dynamo at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.
Elsewhere, Alex Ring is back in the XI after recovering from the injury he sustained during the international break and Villa leads the line with Jack Harrison, Maxi Moralez and Tommy McNamara in supporting roles.
On the bench, Ronald Matarrita returns for the first time since NYCFC’s 3-1 win over Minnesota and he’s joined by James Sands, who is named in a matchday squad for the final time before he joins up with U.S U-17s for the World Cup.
NYCFC can close the gap on Toronto FC with a victory and put some distance between themselves and Chicago who play later this weekend.
It is also possible for the Boys in Blue to clinch a Playoffs place this weekend with a victory but they will need results in tomorrow’s games involving Montreal Impact and/or Red Bulls to go in their favor.
Dynamo can move back into an MLS Playoffs berth with a victory in this 3pm kick-off in Connecticut.
NYCFC XI: Johnson, Struna, Brillant, Callens, Sweat, Pirlo, Ring, McNamara, Moralez, Harrison, Villa (C)
NYCFC Subs: Johansen, Allen, Matarrita, Sands, Wallace, Shelton, Okoli
- NYCFC has yet to lose to Houston since joining the league in 2015 (1W-1D). They drew with the Dynamo in their only previous meeting in New York on May 30, 2015.
- A loss to Portland in their last home game snapped a 10-game home unbeaten streak for NYCFC (8W-2D).
- Houston has lost nine of their 15 road matches this regular season (1W-5D). Their 0.5 points per road game this year is the third worst in the entire league.
- Oscar Boniek Garcia had nine tackles for Houston last weekend, the most he’s ever had in a single MLS appearance for Houston (150 games, including playoffs). It is just the fourth time a Dynamo player has had nine tackles in a game since the start of the 2010 season.
- NYCFC average 2.5 points per game when Yangel Herrera starts (11 games) and 1.3 points per game when he does not (18 games).
- Houston is tied with Portland for the second-most first half goals this year, with 27. NYCFC is second to Toronto in second half goals this year, with 32.
- In 957 minutes with Dylan Remick on the field this season, Houston averages 1.9 goals per 90 minutes. In 1,737 minutes played without him this year, that number falls down to 1.3 goals per 90 minutes played.
- Jack Harrison is fifth in the league with 50 dribbles completed this season.
- Adolfo Machado leads the league with 179 clearances this season.