Preview: NYCFC Seek Early Season Revenge Against Orlando City

by Anthony J. Merced

NYCFC look to avenge an opening day loss to Orlando City SC as the Florida side travels to Yankee Stadium on Sunday afternoon. In their previous meeting Orlando escaped with a 1-0 win despite the New York City dominating possession and having the better chances at goal. Patrick Vieira is hoping that his team have moved past their lackluster finishing and can now focus on imposing their will on the Conference.

The defense is still a big question mark for NYCFC. While they did hold on to the shutout in Philadelphia, there were a few tense moments with the back line surrendering opportunities on goal. The team was able to either backtrack or rely on Sean Johnson to make a key save. Still, Andrea Pirlo isn’t providing much protection as Alexander Ring and Maxi Moralez push forward with little to give on the defensive side of the ball. NYCFC is in need of a defensive midfielder but will need to cope until the transfer window in July or make a drastic decision by sitting the Italian legend Pirlo.

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

Worth Noting:

  • David Villa’s amazing goal from nearly 50 yards out is being touted as one of MLS’ most outstanding attempts. The Spaniard has been impressive since joining the league in 2015 but has become one of the most dominant strikers in the league next to Sebastian Giovinco. Villa’s eye for goal has been uncanny and his 90th minute brace was exactly what NYCFC needed to boost morale in their first road win. Expect more of the same from the team captain as the season pushes on.
  • Ronald Matarrita might not be providing much on the defensive side of the ball but he is already well on his way to being far more productive on offense. The Costa Rican international has three assists this season and will surly surpass the five he notched in 2016. His pace on the wing also provides an extra layer in the final third as Rodney Wallace can push up next to Villa and act as a second striker. That alone is enough to excuse his defensive lapses as it often appears as if he leaves the team with three defenders in the back. This may be the strategy moving forward as Ethan White makes the team roster on the right in an attempt to cover for the advancing left back.
  • Jack Harrison isn’t playing like the young prospect anymore. He is now a full-blown offensive threat that teams will have to address week in and week out. Harrison’s game winning goal in the 52nd minute against Philadelphia was his second of the year with the team undoubtedly expecting more to come. His work on the right wing has been exceptional, pulling defenders away from David Villa and Maxi Moralez. Unless team’s adjust drastically, the combination of Harrison and Villa could be one of the more unstoppable tandems in the league this season.