Match #31 – New York City FC
Date & Time: August 31st, 7:00 pm
Location: BC Place, Vancouver
TV: TSN 1/4
Radio/Stream (iHeartRadio): TSN 1040 (pre-match at 6:00 pm)
Streaming: MLS Live on ESPN+ (US)
New York City FC
Left back Ronald Matarrita picked up a red card in the final minutes of their match last weekend against rival New York Red Bulls, thanks to VAR. As a result, he will miss the match. This is a big blow to NYCFC’s defense as he has been a staple at that left back position for the second half of the season. It could be a benefit for Nerwinski though, as it might allow him to play in a more advanced role.
Making that left side of the defense even weaker, central defender James Sands (1,480 minutes) is unlikely to play in this match, while midfielder Ebenezer Ofori (1,117) and depth forward Isamael Tajouri-Shradi (681) are also out.
However, NYCFC have won their last three matches and six of their past eight. Even with injuries this club is dangerous and could easily pick up the victory in Vancouver.
The Whitecaps are relatively healthy right now with Eric Godoy’s calf tightness being the only notable absence. We will see if he comes back into the lineup against NYCFC, but don’t be surprised if he doesn’t as Henry and Cornelius have been playing well together, so there is no rush to insert Godoy back in. In addition, the Caps might want to see what they have with the Canadian center back duo, to see whether they should sign Godoy after his loan expires.
It was revealed after the Montreal Impact match that Ali Adnan is carrying an injury. This is not too surprising as he looked gassed several times during the match, and failed to track back several times. See, it isn’t just lazy defending! The more rational decision would be to let Adnan rest, to avoid serious injury, however, there are not many options behind him at left back. MDS doesn’t seem to favor Levis and PC is out with back spasms. Unless MDS goes with three-at-the-back, and plays a returning Godoy (risking injury there) or Rose (almost useless), we should see Adnan start again.
Who to Watch?
New York City FC
With David Villa leaving, NYCFC had to find a goal-scoring replacement. Instead of one, they found two in Heber and Castellanos. Combined, they have 23 goals (13 and 10 respectively). Heber is on a bit of a hot streak, scoring four goals in his past four matches, while Castellanos has five in his past five in his past five, including two from a 32-minute substitution appearance. The duo have proven themselves to be dangerous, especially with MLS assist leading (18) Maxi Moralez pulling the strings behind them.
Three games in seven days meant that Jon Erice finally started a match on Wednesday. As a result, the Caps went with a 4-1-4-1 lineup, putting Hwang In-Beom in a more advanced position. His offensive numbers were similar to those when he was playing at the defensive midfield position, so it will be interesting to see whether In-Beom plays up the park or sits deep. With the power of New York’s attacking players, don’t be surprised if we see a return to the 4-3-2-1 formation.
Newcomers Tosaint Ricketts and Michaell Chirinos both started their first matches for Vancouver on Wednesday and looked dynamic. With Montero’s poor play of late (all season?) it will be interesting to see if Ricketts gets the start.
Given his performance on Wednesday it will be very surprising if Chirinos is not back in the Starting XI for Saturday evening. The only reason I could see him not starting is due to fatigue, however, that seems unlikely.
Who’s Going to Win?
There are reasons to suddenly be hopeful that the Caps can pull out a win here. However, New York City FC is one of, if not, the top team in the Eastern Conference. They are on a winning streak while the Whitecaps are already looking towards next season. As the adage goes, this is a banana skin game for NYCFC, but I don’t expect them to slip. This could get ugly or the Caps could keep it tight. Either way, I expect a New York victory.
What about you though? Are you more optimistic? Let us know your thoughts and don’t forget to make your prediction in our Starting XI and Final Score contest.