Preview: New York City FC vs Colorado Rapids

Tony Taylor NYCFC

by JACK HAZZARD

Although NYCFC has embarrassingly lost 7-0 and 4-1 to the New York Red Bulls this season, they still remain atop of the East. However, with the arrival of the Colorado Rapids to Yankee Stadium this weekend, New York may see themselves fall down the table.

Following yet another disappointing loss to the New York Red Bulls last weekend, NYCFC will return home after three away games to take on the Colorado Rapids at Yankee Stadium. New York is set to play with a depleted squad due to last weekend’s suspensions and Thursday night’s MLS All-Star Match, suggesting that Patrick Vieira will have to dig deep into the roster in order to pick an adequate lineup against the second best club in the MLS. The Colorado Rapids will enter Saturday’s match following an underwhelming 1-1 draw against first-place FC Dallas that saw Victor Ulloa tie it late with an absolute wonder-goal. Although Colorado is currently second in the Western Conference, Pablo Mastroeni‘s side has only won one match in their last six, suggesting that the Rapids are encountering the typical Major League Soccer midseason slump.

Can Patrick Vieira put together the right squad in order to take on Pablo Mastroeni’s inform squad or will they have yet another disaster at Yankee Stadium?


Match Information

Saturday, July 30th at Yankee Stadium, 3pm Kickoff

Watch: YES Network, MLS Live

Listen: 660 WFAN, 1280 WADO

Stream: nycfc.com/radio

Referee: Baldomero Toledo

2016 MLS Records:

NYCFC: 33 points (9 wins, 6 draws, 7 losses)

Colorado Rapids: 38 points (10 wins, 8 draws, 2 losses)

Projected Lineups:

NYCFC: Josh Saunders; Jason Hernandez, Frederic Brillant, Jefferson Mena, Ronald Mattarita; Jack Harrison, Andoni Iraola, Frank Lampard; Khiry Shelton, Tony Taylor, Thomas McNamara

Colorado Rapids: Tim Howard; Mekeil Williams, Jared Watts, Axel Sjoberg, Marc Burch; Jermaine Jones, Sam Cronin, Marlon Hairston, Dillon Powers, Shkelzen Gashi, Kevin Doyle


The NYCFC Attack v the Rapids’ Defence

Tony Taylor and Khiry Shelton vs. Marc Burch, Axel Sjoberg, Jared Watts, and Mekeil Williams (and Tim Howard)

Due to yellow card accumulation, NYCFC captain David Villa will miss Saturday’s match, leaving Patrick Vieira with the chance to start younger talents such as Tony Taylor and Khiry Shelton. Earlier comments from Vieira during the week have suggested that he is looking to give game time to forwards further down the pecking order. Both Taylor and Shelton have seen a minimum amount of minutes this season due to injury and Villa’s electric season, however, with the match against Colorado this weekend, they will have a chance to show their manager what they can do. Even though fighting for a starting spot in this year’s NYCFC squad was difficult enough for Taylor and Shelton, the worst has yet to come. The two American forwards will now have to face one of the best defenses in Major Leauge Soccer. Although it took a while, the Colorado Rapids have finally found a consistent back four who aren’t unfamiliar with shutting out a team away from home. On top of their stellar back four, NYCFC must prepare for an even more difficult challenge as they take on USA legend Tim Howard, who has been playing phenomenally since joining the Rapids earlier in the Summer.

Advantage: Colorado Rapids


The Rapids’ front line v the NYCFC back line

Kevin Doyle, Shkelzen Gashi, and Marlon Hairston vs. Jason Hernandez, Frederic Brillant, Jefferson Mena, and Ronald Matarrita (and Josh Saunders)

David Villa and Andrea Pirlo aren’t the only important players missing this weekend for NYCFC. Reliable and dependable defenders Ethan White and R.J. Allen will miss Saturday’s match due to suspensions. Allen will miss because of yellow card accumulation while White will miss due to a late red card in last weekend’s Derby match. Although NYCFC will play without these two defenders, Vieira will narrowly be able to add replacements with inconsistent Jason Hernandez at right-back and recovering Ronald Matarrita at left-back. Thankfully, New York will be able to go into this weekend with a well-rested defence, however, it may not be enough as they take on an inform Colorado Rapids offense. All three Colorado attackers including Doyle, Gashi, and Hairston have been putting in a plethora of goals as of late, but, with USMNT international Jermaine Jones set to appear following an injury spell, the Rapid’s may return to their deadly early season form.

Advantage: Colorado Rapids


Midfielders

Jack Harrison, Frank Lampard, Thomas McNamara, Andoni Iraola vs. Sam Cronin, Jermaine Jones, and Dillon Powers

Although NYCFC will lack in the defensive and offensive departments this weekend, they can try their best to compensate in the midfield. As it stands, many expect Andrea Pirlo to sit out Saturday’s match due to his brief appearance in Thursday night’s MLS All-Star game against Arsenal. If so, Vieira will most likely have to reorganize his midfield in order to address his other concerns. The French manager may look to play four midfield, setting up a flat three consisting of McNamara, Lampard, and Harrison (from left to right) with defensive midfielder Andoni Iraoloa following them behind. This way, they may be able to clog a strong Colorado Rapids midfield consisting of tough-minded Sam Cronin, Jermaine Jones, and Dillon Powers. If Vieira is able to rework his midfield the right way, NYCFC may have a chance at slipping by Colorado.

Advantage: Even


The Coaches

Patrick Vieira vs. Pablo Mastroeni

Both Patrick Vieira and Pablo Mastroeni have exceeded expectations this year by defying all odds. Both NYCFC and the Colorado Rapids were coming off of underwhelming seasons, hoping that 2016 would be a much better year. NYCFC elected to get rid of current coach Jason Kries at the time and replaced him with Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira, something fans and critics were unsure about. Colorado elected to keep Pablo Mastroeni after an embarrassing year as the Rapids manager, resulting in fans and critics to be skeptical. However, with all of the doubt pundits gave the two coaches, both Vieira and Mastroeni proved them to be wrong. As of now, New York currently holds the top spot in the Eastern Conference while Colorado claims second in the West. If it wasn’t for the two coaches’ intuitive tactics and changes, both clubs could potentially be in worse condition.

Advantage: Even


Intangibles

NYCFC will be entering this game with a depleted squad. They will miss their top scorer, top assister, and most dependable defender. Colorado will travel to Yankee Stadium with a fully rested squad as well as a recovered Jermaine Jones, who is looking to still prove his worth in Colorado. NYCFC has been prone to collapsing at home with recent memories of the New York Red Bulls still looming over, meaning that the Colorado Rapids have a great chance to grab a win away from home in order to keep their hopes alive to claim the Western Conference title.

Advantage: Colorado Rapids


Prediction

Hopefully, Patrick Vieira will give youngsters the chance to shine this weekend. A loss already seems imminent for the boys in blue, however, NYCFC may be lucky enough to uncover a hidden gem in their roster that will help the team propel into the playoffs. With the Colorado Rapids being fully rested as well as the tough-minded Jermaine Jones returning to the roster, it is hard to see NYCFC come out with a win. NYCFC will lose 2-1 to the Colorado Rapids.


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