Preview: New York City FC host Philadelphia Union

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

Across the Hudson River, a beloved New York Red Bull folk hero coined the phrase “revenge is coming.”

New York City FC will be borrowing that moniker Thursday night.

The Philadelphia Union handed the expansion NYCFC a crushing defeat, riding a goal in extra time towards victory this weekend, extending New York’s losing streak to two matches (winless in three).

The rare home-and-home regular season encounter now turns to Yankee Stadium where City will look to make a short memory of that painful result.

Here is what you can look for Thursday night:


 

Projected Starting XI:

NYCFC (4-4-2): Saunders; Brovsky, Hernandez, Watson-Siriboe, Wingert; Shelton, Jacobson, Poku, Calle; Villa, Taylor

Union (4-2-3-1): McCarthy; Gaddis, Edu, Vittoria, Fabinho; Carroll, Noguiera; Wenger, Pfeffer, Ayuk, Le Toux

History: Philadelphia leads the series 1-0

Last Encounter: 2-1 Philadelphia Union at PPL Park

Battle To Watch: Villa vs. Edu, Vitoria. David Villa thrives in Yankee Stadium, making for a difficult defensive assignment. Edu and Vitoria will be tested, particularly on short rest, to repel the Spanish striker.

X-Factor: Yankee StadiumThe three-day conversion of the baseball grounds will be tested for the first time this season. Wednesday night’s USMNT, Mexico encounter served to show how difficult such a move can be, particularly as the weather heats up. How the sod will play in it’s first test will be scrutinized heavily.


 

ANALYSIS:

The challenge for head coach Jason Kreis and NYCFC will be the same as it has been for much of the early season; getting off to a fast start.

Their inability to start their match Saturday afternoon on the right foot cost New York a positive road result. At Yankee Stadium, Philadelphia will experience what others teams have already suffered; an adjustment period to the baseball grounds. Add on to that the first three-day field conversion of the season, and the home side will hold a distinct advantage.

Striking early and striking often will be the team’s keys to success. NYCFC have modeled their tactics to maximize the effectiveness of their narrow home grounds, snubbing the diamond midfield which has come to define Kreis for a more practical solution. A fast start and a strong presence down the middle of the field will lead either team towards victory.

Another curveball (no pun intended) will be the starting XI. Both team’s are experiencing a short turnaround from Saturday’s match. NYCFC will welcome Portland on Sunday, meaning player personnel decisions will be under the microscope. With the way the Union exposed NYCFC’s fullbacks, eat is possible that Long Island native Chris Wingert switches back to his natural fullback role, leaving room for a new center back presence in the middle. In the midfield, Poku and Calle were given an extended look by the club in USL play. Expect both to be back in the mix.

Speaking of mix, Diskerud will be out after performing with the National team. With a need for speed on the wings, Kreis may be inclined to lean towards fan-favorite, Khiry Shelton, to enter the fray.

Prediction: 2-1 NYCFC