Orlando City will limp into Yankee Stadium this weekend, looking to be the first team to take any kind of result away from New York City FC at home. The Lions will have to do it with a cast of walking wounded, especially on the back line, which makes for a daunting task against the red-hot David Villa.
Head Coach Jason Kreis has shown an aptitude for defeating his former employer, however, with this season’s early defeat just the second time in five tries NYCFC has gotten the better of him. A few things have changed since that meeting back in March and Hudson River Blue manager Christian Smith is back again to answer more questions about this weekend’s opponents.
Rumors of Patrick Vieira’s departure continue to persist. How much would his leaving impact NYCFC?
Christian Smith: If I had to take a guess, it would impact NYCFC greatly. The entire team’s identity is based around his meticulously micromanaged system and any change to that system — especially a sudden one — could derail things entirely. Obviously, NYCFC is plentiful in quality talent and that alone could see the club continue to stay in winning form. But I wouldn’t bet on that.
New York City FC is unbeaten and untied at home this season. What has been the key to the club’s dominating success in Yankee Stadium?
CS: The answer is simple: NYCFC has taken advantage of Yankee Stadium’s unique dimensions and has turned it into a fortress. While other teams only play on this pitch once or twice a year, NYCFC play on it for half the season, giving the club a huge home-field advantage. Because of the pitch size, NYCFC is quickly able to snuff out opposing attacks and then spring lethal counter-attacks. The team perfected this formula and has been all the better for it.
On the flip side, David Villa and co. have struggled with consistency as of late with blowout losses to the New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo. How does the team avoid those poor performances?
CS: Despite all the success that Patrick Vieira has brought to NYCFC, he is sometimes too stubborn to shift away from his system, even when things aren’t going as swimmingly as drawn up. Against the Red Bulls, NYCFC came out with no urgency and was dedicated to building from the back, despite NYRB’s prowess with the high press. Because of that, NYCFC fell down two goals early. The same thing happened in Houston. Vieira stubbornly stuck to Plan A, despite there being holes early. What Vieira needs to accept is that there are teams that will completely neutralize our play-from-the-back system. And because of this, it might be best to take unique approaches to a select few teams.
What injuries/suspensions will keep players out this weekend? What is your projected starting lineup and final score prediction?
CS: Maxime Chanot is possible to return from injury quite soon, but Yangel Herrera’s injury sustained during the Dynamo game appears to be quite serious and will keep him out of action for a while. Ronald Matarrita and Rodney Wallace have both joined the Costa Rican national team in preparation for the World Cup. Vieira has blocked the call-ups for both Chanot and Jo Inge Berget due to City’s hectic schedule of three games in eight days.
Lineup right to left: Sean Johnson; Sebastian Ibeagha, Cedric Hountondji, Alex Callens; Anton Tinnerholm, Maxi Moralez, Alex Ring, Ebenezer Ofori, Ben Sweat; David Villa, Jo Inge Berget.
Final score: 2-1 NYCFC. New York has been on fire at home, and I can’t see that changing.
Thanks again to Christian for spending some time to give us the newest info on NYCFC.