What’s this? The first Major Keys of the new Major League Soccer season? We’re back.
Managing Editor Mark Booth cracks that 2018 seal and looks ahead to Sunday’s showdown with Sporting Kansas City…
Here We Go!
And so, we stand on the precipice of our fourth year in MLS with a trip to Children’s Mercy Park to meet the reigning U.S. Open Cup champions.
NYCFC welcomed ten new players into the squad in the offseason, meaning we could be set for a generous helping of debuts when these two teams meet on Sunday night.
It’s been a rough three months but we’re back in the saddle and we couldn’t be any more hyped to say that #MLSisBack!
HOMECOMING: Join the NYCFC Fam in SoHo on March 6
Did Head Coach Patrick Vieira give us a clue as to his thoughts with the XI fielded against Montreal last Saturday?
In our final preseason friendly, the Frenchman named an extremely familiar-looking NYCFC XI, which featured nine men who started regularly for the Boys in Blue in 2017.
Anton Tinnerholm and Jesus Medina (more on him later) were the two new names on that teamsheet but, with a week of training between then and now, who has forced their way into Vieira’s thinking for the big kick off?
You’ll find out first here on NYCFC.com at approximately 6.30pm on Sunday.
If 2017 is anything to go by, this will be one of City’s toughest road assignments of the year.
Kansas lost just one Regular Season home game in the whole of 2017, joining an elite band of just 23 teams with a home record that good since 1996.
That said, NYC possessed one of the best road records in 2017 and finished in style on this front, losing just one of our last six away matches in the Regular Season (W2-D3).
On A Roll?
Following defeats in our first two clashes with KC, we finally beat them in September 2017, thanks to Jack Harrison’s late winning goal.
With Harrison moving on in the offseason, a new hero will be required on Sunday evening as City look to make it two from two vs. the Wizards.
David Villa signposted his intentions for 2018 with two golazos in that final preseason engagement last Saturday.
A trademark scoop over the goalkeeper and an inch perfect freekick were the perfect appetizer for El Guaje’s fourth season leading City into battle.
Villa has unfinished business with Sporting Kansas City too… they are one of just three teams he’s faced in the league that he has yet to score against (see also: Colorado and Dallas).
Matter of time?
A New DP
Sunday could also mark the debut of New York City’s newest Designated Player.
Jesus Medina signed from Club Libertad in the offseason and the 20-year old will be eager to hit the ground running if he’s given the opportunity by his new boss.
South American football expert Tim Vickery described Medina’s main virtue as: “a subtle yet booming left foot, generating surprising power from such a lean frame, capable of whipping in set pieces at pace and of scoring from the edge of the penalty area.”
As with any young, new-to-the-league player, Medina will likely need time to adjust to the rhythms of his new surrounds before he shows his very best form but he’ll be eager to get that first appearance in the books and to demonstrate some of the skills which saw NYCFC come calling in the offseason.
Fresh from his first full preseason with NYCFC, Alex Ring will be hoping to enjoy a second season at least as good as his first.
The Finnish international was the only player in MLS to record at least 100 tackles, 60 interceptions and 40 clearances in 2017 and he looks like being one of the key men again for Vieira and co. this year.
We’re hosting our second annual pub crawl on Sunday, so you can celebrate the start to the season with your NYCFC Fam.