Preview: NYCFC Look for Consistency Against Union

USA Today

by Anthony J. Merced

Patrick Vieira and NYCFC hope to turn around their defensive inconsistencies as they travel to Talen Energy Stadium to play the lowly Philadelphia Union on Friday night. The Union do not have a win in 2017 and present an opportunity for New York to hit the reset button in many aspects of their game. Anything less than a win could set the team back even further after a recent run of positive results.

NYCFC has yet to grab a point on the road. Not only have they had defensive lapses, which have led to surrendering sloppy goals, but they have also been unable to score with only one goal across games against DC United and Orlando City SC. Philadelphia is far more prone to giving up chances, tied for the worst goals against in the Eastern Conference. This means that Villa, Harrison and Wallace will have their chances but they will need to make them count if NYCFC hopes to get their first road win of the season.

PROJECTED STARTING XI: Johnson; Matarrita, Chanot, Callens, White; McNamara, Moralez, Ring; Wallace, Villa, Harrison

Worth Noting:

  • Tommy McNamara has quietly made a case to start over Andrea Pirlo. The Italian legend has been less than spectacular in five games this season with no assists in five starts. He has also been a defensive liability, surrendering the ball in key areas that have led to chances for the opposition. Conversely, McNamara has been a “Super-Sub” with a goal and an assist in just 100 minutes played. The West Nyack native has been platooned as a midfielder and forward under Vieira but may find a home next to Moralez and Ring should he continue to be effective.
  • David Villa continues to be the most potent weapon in the NYCFC arsenal. His goal against DC United marked his third of the season and nearly gave his team a glimmer of hope late in the contest. He has also been an important assist man with three in the campaign thus far. His back-heel pass to Jack Harrison against San Jose was a highlight reel moment in his 2017.
  • Chanot and Callens need support defensively. Matarrita Moralez and Ring have been impressive moving forward but the defense is constantly under pressure when the ball is surrendered in the midfield. Matarrita, who also benefits the offense, provides little in the way of tracking ability and the best Vieira has offered is Ethan White converted to a right back. NYCFC will continue to bleed goals if they do not address their defensive lapses. It may the be the big difference when it comes to finishing with home field advantage in the playoffs.