NYCFC Notes: Harrison a week away, Lampard sighting, Vieira backs Saunders

IMAGE, DAVE MARTINEZ FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

New York City FC are getting healthier.

Frank Lampard briefly did light conditioning during the beginning of training before returning inside. Head coach Patrick Vieira said he hopes Lampard will do some training with the team this week as well.

Jack Harrison did not train with the team Thursday. Harrison has been in-and-out of training for the past two weeks as he recovers from the pelvis injury that’s sidelined him all year. He shared on Instagram last Saturday that he would be two weeks away from appearing with New York City FC.

Vieira agrees.

“Jack is doing well,” Vieira said. “He is a week away from training with the team.”

Of note: Kwadwo Poku was not with the team in training but trained indoors before meeting with officials about his green card.

Vieira reaffirms support for Saunders

Josh Saunders trained with the first team during full-field scrimmages and will likely start Sunday against DC United. Though Saunders’ error has galvanized those calling for his benching, Vieira is sticking with his first choice goalkeeper.

“Josh has saved us more than he has made mistakes,” Vieira said. “That is the key part for me. I’m with the players everyday and I see how hard they work. I see how dedicated they are every day and the mistakes are not a problem for me.”

Vieira took responsibility for Saunders’ mistakes. He said he asks Saunders to play with the ball at his feet so he can’t fault the goalkeeper for doing what he was asked to do.

RJ Allen questionable vs DC United

R.J. Allen participated in his second training session this week after leaving the April 27th match with an ankle injury. Allen started at right back and scored NYCFC’s lone goal that day. He missed last Saturday’s match against the Vancouver Whitecaps and his status for this Sunday’s is yet to be decided.

“It all depends on how the ankle reacts,” Vieira said. “He worked by himself yesterday and he was fine. Today he did a group session and is fine. We just have to wait and see if the ankle is going to react. If it doesn’t, he will be training with the team again.”

Discussing the road ahead

Sunday’s match is the first of four straight games against teams that made the playoffs last season. The first three are on the road and the fourth is the Hudson River Derby.

The win against the Whitecaps not only ended a seven-game winless streak but was the first win against a playoff team in City’s last six tries, dating back to last season.

Vieira said he is preparing for each game like he has for each of the previous games.

“Playing against a team who made the playoffs is always good because it gives us a good test to see where we are as a team,” Vieira said. “Of course, it’s going to be difficult like any of the games we’ve played but I strongly believe we have good players and a good system that can give them problems as well. It is important for us to improve every game and try to make less mistakes and score more goals.”