Preview: New York City FC vs D.C. United

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by JACK HAZZARD

Only having three days of rest following their Sunday night match against Orlando City SC, New York City FC will return home to Yankee Stadium to take on fellow Eastern Conference club, D.C. United.

Due to New York’s most recent loss at the hands of the Lions Sunday night, the Citizens have fallen further away from the Eastern Conference’s top spot, currently resting two points behind first place Toronto FC. If New York wishes to achieve their club’s first ever first place finish only two years into their existence, they need to return to their winning ways by defeating fellow East coast side D.C. United.

However, defeating D.C. United is no easy task. Throughout the month of August, United never lost a match, having a successful record consisting of two wins and three draws. In addition to NYCFC’s difficult task this week, Thursday night will also see the return of former New York striker Patrick Mullins at Yankee Stadium. In Mullins’ last match for United, he scored a 74 minute hat-trick against the Chicago Fire, which puts him in terrific form heading into a match against his former team.

Will New York be able to return to winning form or will former striker Partick Mullins make New York regret selling him in the first place?

Match Information

Thursday, September 1st at Yankee Stadium, 7:00pm ET Kickoff

Watch: YES Network, MLS Live

Listen: 660 WFAN, 1280 WADO

Stream: nycfc.com/radio

Referee: CHRIS PENSO
AR1: Brian Dunn
AR2: Danny Thornberry
4TH: Jaime Herrera

2016 MLS Records:

NYCFC: 41 points (11 wins, 8 draws, 8 losses)

DC United: 32 points (7 wins, 11 draws, 8 losses)

Projected Lineups:

NYCFC: Josh Saunders; Jason Hernandez, Frederic Brillant, Jefferson Mena, R.J. Allen; Andrea Pirlo, Andoni Iraola, Frank Lampard; Steven Mendoza, David Villa, Thomas McNamara

DC United: Bill Hamid; Sean Franklin, Kofi Opare, Bobby Boswell, Taylor Kemp; Marcelo Sarvas, Luciano Acosta, Rob Vincent; Lloyd Sam, Patrick Nyarko, Patrick Mullins


The NYCFC Attack v United’s Defense

Steven Mendoza, David Villa, and Thomas McNamara vs. Sean Franklin, Kofi Opare, Bobby Boswell, and Taylor Kemp (and Bill Hamid)

At this point in time, it’s safe to say scoring is not a problem for NYCFC. They possess numerous amounts of skillful and offensive minded players that are not unfamiliar with finding the back of the net. In a way, NYCFC fans have been lucky enough to see such an enjoyable style of soccer. Currently, New York is the third-highest scoring club in Major League Soccer, only two goals behind first placed Philidelphia. The club’s top scorer, David Villa, has scored a total of 16 goals this season, a stat that sees the Spaniard sit tied for first in the Golden Boot race with Sebastian Giovinco and Bradley Wright-Phillips. As the stats permit, NYCFC is essentially one of the league’s top scoring clubs. However, they are facing the second best defense in the Eastern Conference this Thursday as they take on D.C. United. Under Ben Olsen’s leadership this season, United have only conceded a total of 33 goals, which calculates to around 1.3 goals per game. This impressive stat reveals the main core of D.C. United — their defense. With the powerful defensive capability of United States International Steve Birnbaum and Bobby Boswell, D.C. have created a solid wall in the back. Birnbaum, however will be with the USMNT, likely to be replaced by Opare — a capable replacement. Throw in the impeccable goalkeeping ability of Bill Hamid and it is difficult to toss this Ben Olsen defense to the side. Overall, NYCFC will continue to perform, scoring a few goals here and there, but no one will be surprised when D.C. United travel into Yankee Stadium and shutout the citizens.

Advantage: Even


DC United’s front line v the NYCFC back line

Lloyd Sam, Patrick Nyarko, and Patrick Mullins vs. R.J. Allen, Frederic Brillant, Jefferson Mena, and Jason Hernandez (and Josh Saunders)

Coming off of an amazing six-goal match over the weekend, it’s difficult to predict that D.C. United will not grab a few goals Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. Former NYCFC striker Patrick Mullins put on an absolute scoring clinic against the Chicago Fire last Saturday, recording a hat-trick within 74 minutes. Since being traded to United in late July, Mullins has proven to be more than just a glamorous backup, resulting in D.C.’s head coach Ben Olsen to give minutes to the Maryland alumni. After riding the bench for most of the 2016 season under Patrick Vieira, Mullins will definitely be looking to enact revenge on his former side. As for New York’s defence, they will once again miss out on newly center Luxembourg international center back Maxime Chanot due to international play and Ronald Matarrita. NYCFC are coming off of a shaky performance against Orlando. As it currently stands, New York City FC statistically has the second worse defense in Major League Soccer, conceding an appalling total of 45 goals in 27 matches, which averages to about 1.6 goals per game. Although New York will have home-field advantage Thursday night, the impressive offensive form that D.C. United currently has will prove to be way too much for this weakened NYCFC defense.

Advantage: DC United


Midfielders

Andrea Pirlo, Andoni Iraola, and Frank Lampard vs. Marcelo Sarvas, Luciano Acosta, and Rob Vincent

Heading into Thursday night’s match, it’s difficult to ignore the midfield battle that is preparing to commence. As usual, NYCFC will bring their star-studded midfield, which includes Pirlo, Lampard, and Iraola. On the other hand, D.C. United will bring their under-the-radar dark horses, Acosta, Vincent, and Sarvas. Jared Jeffreys will be out of this one due to yellow card accumulation. Although many would take one look at the two sides’ midfield and classify NYCFC as the clear victor, they would be utterly mistaken. Yes, it is true that United’s midfield does not have the global fame that NYCFC does. However, these D.C. midfielders are gritty and determined. Having always been dark horses throughout the careers, United’s midfield will want to prove something this Thursday night, showing that big paychecks mean nothing.

Advantage: Even


The Coaches

Patrick Vieira vs. Ben Olsen

As of now, Ben Olsen and his D.C. United side is barely hanging onto the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference, remaining only one point ahead of seventh place Orlando City SC. Nevertheless, United’s struggles do not conclude that they are a bad team. Although they have hit somewhat of a slump, DC United are a well managed and professional side that knows how to grind out wins. Under Olsen, United have found themselves an identity — something that most MLS clubs still struggle to find. Overall, Olsen has been a pivotal leader in this traditional D.C. United squad. However, if United inevitably miss the playoffs this year, Olsen’s leadership may be called into question.

Advantage: NYCFC


Intangibles

Heading into the match, both clubs will have experienced little-to-no rest between the weekend and Thursday night. D.C. United played earlier Saturday and NYCFC played late Sunday, suggesting that United will be a bit more rested than the Pigeons. Nevertheless, rest will not be the only factor going into this game. With the return of Patrick Mullins to New York, NYCFC will need to be cautious of a striker who will be determined to implement on his former club who thought of him as a backup.

Advantage: D.C. United


Prediction

Thursday night’s match will be an enjoyable spectacle to watch. Rain will effect the match and create an added dimension of difficulty and unpredictability. No matter what the result will be, fans will experience a hard-fought classy contest that sees loads of goals scored by both sides. Fans at Yankee Stadium better prepare for a high scoring match because this Thursday will result in a 3-3 draw.