Our 2017 Home Opener is almost here but where will the game be won and lost?
Here are five keys to the match against DC United…
1. Tactical Flexibility
Speaking at NYCFC’s media day in Midtown on Thursday afternoon, Patrick Vieira hinted that we would see the team line up with three at the back at times again this season.
Whether or not that will be on Sunday or not remains to be seen, but he certainly has the players at his disposal to be able to pull it off.
NYCFC’s recruitment strategy appears to have focused on bringing in multifunctional players with the tactical flexibility to play in a number of different roles.
Speaking on the subject of Ugo Okoli’s promising cameo in Orlando, Vieira mentioned that playing with this system would allow him to play both Villa and Okoli up front, giving him more firepower in tight games against teams with defensive low block strategies.
One to watch this season…
2. Bouncing Back
Nobody in the NYCFC camp was too disheartened following our opening night defeat in Orlando.
Vieira’s team played the better soccer in Florida, dominating all of our key statistical metrics, aside from goals.
No doubt that will have been the focus in the week leading to this clash with DC as NYCFC look to avoid slipping to back-to-back scoreless Regular Season games for the first time since April 2015.
3. More Debuts?
We saw six NYCFC debuts on the opening night in Orlando but will we see any more on Sunday?
The likes of Kwame Awuah, Miguel Camargo, Yangel Herrera, Jonathan Lewis, John Stertzer and Ben Sweat are all waiting for their first minutes.
Due to the positive nature of the performance in Florida, it’d be surprising to see more than a couple of alterations, but Vieira is a coach who thinks outside of the box, meaning all eyes will be on the team news which we’ll reveal here on NYCFC.com at around 1pm on gameday.
4. Good Record
It’s an admittedly small sample size but all of the numbers and past precedents suggest that there is reason for optimism going into our first home game.
NYCFC have won every Yankee Stadium meeting with DC United and there are normally goals too!
The meeting with Ben Olsen’s men last year gave us one of the moments of the season, when Frank Lampard netted twice late on to wrestle a 3-2 victory for his side.
The meeting in our inaugural season ended in a 3-1 win for NYCFC courtesy of goals from Poku, David Villa and Tommy McNamara.
We’re unbeaten in our two Home Openers to date, too – a record which will hopefully still be intact on Sunday evening!
5. Bring the Noise
That’s how long it’s been since we all congregated together at Yankee Stadium to support our boys in blue.
The players can count on the full backing of our incredible support on Sunday, creating the perfect environment for another memorable Home Opener.
Vieira spoke of the role the fans have to play this week.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to seeing our fans again – we want to start really well at home and the support will be massively important for us. It will be tough and they will have a huge part to play.”
Let’s do this…