NYCFC Notes: Lampard out, Iraola fit, Mendoza still adapting to MLS

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

Iraola fit, Lampard not, Mena almost

Frank Lampard will not be available for New York City FC in its match against Orlando City SC tomorrow. Lampard is still working individually with the team and his status is being checked daily by NYCFC, head coach Patrick Vieira said.

Andoni Iraola will be available for NYCFC after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury. Iraola is Vieira’s first-choice right back and his recovery should allow him to field the same four-man defense that was used in preseason.

“I’m really pleased that Andoni is fit again because that gives me another solution and another player to choose from,” Vieira said. “He will be involved in the team tomorrow.”

Jefferson Mena is training with the team after missing almost the entire preseason to a sprained ankle. He is not likely to be match fit for selection.

Stopping Cyle Larin

Cyle Larin scored five goals against NYCFC last season. The 2015 Rookie of the Year can match his age (20) in league goals if he scores at Yankee Stadium tomorrow.

Vieira admitted that New York City will have to be at its best defensively in order to keep Larin off the scoresheet.

“He’s a really strong player,” Vieira said. “He’s young, powerful and he can score goals. He will be a different challenge than [Sebastian] Giovinco but he is as dangerous.”

Vieira said he was happy with the progress his defenders have made in communicating with each other. He added that the players are better understanding their duties and what is asked of them. However, he said he is hoping to see better defending from the team as a whole.

4-3-3, W-M or 3-3-4?

Vieira hinted at fielding a 3-3-4 against Orlando on Friday, but said he wanted to see if it would match up well against the club before a decision was made. This comes a week after the decision to field New York City in a W-M formation received universal praise for its unconventional yet effective implementation.

Vieira said he worked with the formation while coaching Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad and experimented with it during NYCFC’s preseason.

“I was really pleased with how the team reacted when I tried it in Sarasota,” Vieira said. “This will be a shape that we will use during the season as well.”

Vieira did not detail the benefits of a 3-3-4 but it would require NYCFC to partner David Villa with another center forward. That would likely be Patrick Mullins. However, Khiry Shelton could move centrally with Ronald Matarrita and Tony Taylor moving to the wings. The midfield trio of Andrea Pirlo, Thomas McNamara and Mix Diskerud would remain the same but the defense is unclear.

Mendoza in the squad but not likely to start

Steven Mendoza did well in his debut against Toronto FC, Vieira said. The Colombian winger joined NYCFC late last week and immediately stretched the play with his pace. Vieira said Mendoza will be in the matchday squad tomorrow but he is not quite ready to start in MLS.

“I’m really happy with the way he’s training and playing,” Vieira said. “I was really pleased with the way he played his 15 minutes against Toronto but I think he will need more time to adapt to MLS. We’ve brought an interesting player who I think is different from what we have and gives me a different option going forward.”