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NYCFC Sends Four to World Cup Qualifying

Four NYCFC players will be representing their countries during this upcoming international break in crucial FIFA World Cup Qualifying matches across three confederations. 

Here's what to look out for.

David Villa, Spain

Sept. 2 vs. Italy, 2:45PM ET (Fox Sports 2)

Sept. 5 vs. Lichtenstein, 2:45PM ET (ESPN 3)

David Villa is making his long-awaited return to the national team after a three year absence. His incredible performances with NYCFC have been enough to catch the eye of Julen Lopetegui, who has his side sitting on top of UEFA Qualifying group G by way of goal differential.

READ: Villa: Recall is a Dream Come True

In the first of their two upcoming matches, Villa and Spain will face Italy, who are tied on points for the group lead. Spain may need to rely on their all-time leading scorer to break down a notoriously organized and stingy Italy side who came so close to winning the UEFA Euro title just a summer ago. 

Next, they'll square off against Lichtenstein, who are in a quite different position. Bottom of the group with zero points through six matches, Lichtenstein will certainly be the underdogs when they face Villa's Spain. 

READ: Vieira: Villa's Spain Call Speaks Volumes

The last time that Villa scored in World Cup Qualifying, it was against Belgium all the way back in 2009. Now, seven years later, Spain's No. 7 has the chance to add to his all-time leading goal tally. 

Alexander Ring, Finland

Sept. 2 vs. Iceland, 2:45PM ET 

Sept. 5 vs. Kosovo, 2:45PM ET

With just one point and a -6 goal differential through six matches, it's safe to say that Finland has some hard work to do in their next two matches. It will be Alexander Ring's job to add some muscle to a defense that has allowed its fair share of goals, and his presence might be the missing piece of the puzzle as the Finnish head into two matches from which they'll be confident they can get a result.

Iceland shares the lead at the top of the group with Croatia with 13 points, but they're not known for flashy play and could be a managable opponent for Ring's side. Kosovo, meanwhile, sits in last place in the group. They've earned one point, but are struggling with a -15 goal differential through six matches.

It's crunch time for Finland, and with Alexander Ring in the picture, they might have just enough muscle to get the job done. 

Yangel Herrera, Venezuela

Aug. 31 vs. Colombia, 5:00PM ET

Sept. 5 vs. Argentina, 7:30PM ET

Another struggling squad, another NYCFC midfielder sent to the rescue. With Venezuela rooted to the bottom of the CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying table through 14 games played, Yangel Herrera's quality and consistent performances for City have earned him a chance to be the difference maker for his country.

After a strong U-20 World Cup this summer, during which he captained Venezuela to the finals, this will be Herrera's first World Cup Qualifying action since last Novemeber, when he was an unused sub in a 3-0 defeat against Ecuador. 

With just four matches remaining, Venezuela's World Cup Qualifying journey is all but over, but Herrera's inclusion in Rafael Dudamel's latest squad is a signifier that he will play a central role in La Vinotinto's incredibly promising next generation.

Rodney Wallace, Costa Rica

Sept. 1 vs. USA, 6:55PM ET (ESPN)

Sept. 5 vs. Mexico, 10:00PM ET

Everything is coming down to the wire in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying. Just four fixture dates remain to determine who will be making the trip to Russia and who will miss out. 

Right now, the pressure is firmly on Costa Rica to determine their own destiny. Through six matches in the final stage of their Qualifying campaign, Los Ticos sit second in the Hex with 11 points—just three below Mexico. Nipping at their heels are the United States, who they'll face in their first match of this round of Qualifiers. Without a top class performance, Costa Rica could see their three point cushion evaporate against the U.S., and it will be up to Rodney Wallace to help fire his country past the Americans. 

These two sides last faced off in the CONCACAF Gold Cup earlier this Summer, with the USA winning 2-0 in the semifinal round of the tournament. For the Costa Ricans to have a shot at locking down a spot in next summer's World Cup, they'll have to exact their revenge against a team that proved too hot to handle last time out. 

After that, it doesn't get any easier for Wallace and his side. They face first-placed Mexico on September 5th, but if they do well enough against the Americans, they could find themselves with a chance at first place in the table with a win. 

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