Preview: NYCFC Look for Consistency Against Columbus

by Anthony J. Merced

NYCFC have been the soccer equivalent of a yo-yo in 2017 but they hope to be on the up swing against the Columbus Crew this Saturday at MAPFRE Stadium. A stinging loss to Orlando City and Patrick Vieira’s questionable roster decisions have left the team looking for answers to questions they thought they had solved in the off season. Opposing them is a Crew team that has also had issues with consistency, losing two of their last three games. They still maintain an undefeated home record and hope to rely on that against a visiting New York City.

Injuries have plagued Patrick Vieira in his time with NYCFC but his management of the team through those hardships has been a sticking point. Last week we took one of his more effective forwards, Rodney Wallace, and transitioned him to the back line in place of Ronald Matarrita. It effectively took the threat of Wallace’s pressure out of the mix while slotting Tommy McNamara into the left wing position where he hasn’t played this season. The results were not productive to say the least. More than likely Vieira will continue with his experiment as his persistence has been a key part of his tenure as head coach. How the team compensates for this drastic change may be what decides the game.

Projected Starting XI: Johnson; White, Chanot, Callens, Wallace; Pirlo, Ring, Moralez; Harrison, Villa, McNamara

Worth Noting:

  • David Villa has been the most effective part of NYCFC’s offense this season. The 35-year old continues to defy time after an MVP season in 2016. He already has five goals and three assists this season. Villa’s presence in the game draws defenders and opens up spaces for the likes of Harrison and now McNamara. The responsibility will be on the rest of his team to convert their chances or give Villa the space to make magic happen like he did against Philadelphia two weeks ago.
  • The schedule won’t get any easier. New York City will play Columbus this Saturday and then play Atlanta, Dallas, Salt Lake and Orlando with three of those fixtures being on the road. The team will need to grab as many road points as possible, making this game against Columbus a must for a positive result. Head coach Patrick Vieira has spoken about his frustrations with the MLS schedule in the past but the long travel is a part of the league and something that his players need to prepare for when playing a game like this in Columbus.
  • Injuries are mounting for NYCFC. Ronald Matarrita’s ankle injury will keep him out for four to six weeks but he isn’t the only player feeling the sting. Khiry Shelton is out for a similar stretch of time with a hamstring injury and David Villa is feeling the effects of an illness. He is listed as questionable but will more than likely play given the need for NYCFC to grab road points before a brutal May schedule.