NYCFC Notes: Facey, Iraola out vs. D.C., Kreis preps for storm, praises Saunders, more

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

Few New York City FC players have contributed to the recent success of the club quite like Shay Facey. However, the Manchester City product won’t be there to save them come Friday.

Facey will miss tomorrow’s match against DC United with a knee strain. Head coach Jason Kreis said Facey hurt his knee in what look to be an ‘innocuous’ event during training on Wednesday. Facey participated briefly in training today before walking off with a trainer before team drills began.

Jefferson Mena is the likely candidate to replace Facey at RFK. Chris Wingert stayed at left back during practice and is available for selection after serving a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation last Saturday.

Right back Andoni Iraola remains sidelined with a calf injury.

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Preparing for sloppy conditions

Heavy rain is expected for the Washington area Friday afternoon and evening. Along with 1-2 inches of rain, wind gusts of up to 30 mph are also in the forecast.

New York City cannot afford to drop a result if they hope to advance to the MLS playoffs. Although David Villa said he is unfazed by the potential for torrential rain, Kreis is ready to adapt to it if need be.

“We’ll talk to the guys as the day goes by tomorrow and as we see what the field looks like,” Kreis said. “Of course, you have to think about some adjustments to the way you’re playing and the mentality if the field is going to be really poor and the weather is going to be poor.”

NYCFC will travel to Washington Thursday afternoon. MLS officials will keep an eye on the weather all day leading up to and during the match from its New York offices. It is ultimately up to on-site match officials to decide if the match will go ahead.

Coming together

NYCFC are playing its best soccer at the right time of the season to be doing so. The only problem is that there are three games left in the regular season and winning all three is not enough for them to qualify for the playoffs.

Although Kreis said the team has moved forward over the past weeks, he added that the roster overhaul caused the team to take a step back at first.

“I’m as guilty as anybody else to fool myself into thinking that some players can just walk right in and be fantastic in our league,” Kreis said. “I was hopeful that that would be the case with those two players, with Iraola and Angelino and Jefferson Mena, all those players. The fact is that it just doesn’t happen that way and it takes time.”

Kreis added that if NYCFC had a core group of players who had been together for multiple seasons, adding players to the fold would have been an easier process. Nevertheless, he said the team has settled into its tactical assignments and improved its attitude and work rate since he challenged them after a loss to the Columbus Crew.

Although Villa never felt that the team’s attitude was lacking, the striker said he has felt more comfortable and cohesive in its attack.

For him, the team’s issue has been consistency.

“We have been irregular the whole season, obviously in the beginning we didn’t win 12 or 13 games, which really affected us,” Villa said. “Halfway through the season the team improved but it wasn’t as regular as we wanted, while other teams won several games. This complicated things for us. We just have to win, hoping they lose. It’s just been an irregular year which makes it difficult to be in top positions.”

Kreis: Saunders one of the team’s MVPs

Josh Saunders’ kick save on Robert Earnshaw is nominated for MLS Save of the Week. Though it was an outstanding and critical save made by Saunders, it is not something that has been out of the ordinary for him this season. Saunders leads all goalkeepers with 113 saves and is tenth amongst active, regular starters in save percentage. Kreis said Saunders has to be considered as one of the team’s most valuable players.

“Every game where we’ve gotten a result, he’s been a huge player and a contributor and he’s been a leader for us which I think has been the most important thing for us right now which is something that most people don’t know or don’t see.”

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  • Ali C is my man

    No surprise Saunders leads the league’s goalkeeping stats this season. That is one shitty defense.

  • EnglishRBNY

    Gods gift to MLS haven’t had the stellar inaugural season they thought they deserved and only now are reevaluating their expectations. I hope their baseball stadium doesn’t get contaminated with legionaries. It can really take its toll on the elderly.