What to Watch: NYCFC vs. Red Bulls in the Desert


by Christian Araos

New York City FC will play the New York Red Bulls in a Desert Diamond Cup match that means too much to too many people. Nevertheless, it presents an opportunity for NYCFC to beat the Red Bulls so fans are justified to be excited. The result may bring early-season bragging rights, but it will be City’s performance that is worth paying more attention to.

With that in mind, here ares three things to watch for Wednesday afternoon (4 p.m. Eastern; on the YES Network and Fox Sports Go):

Tipping the Hand

There is nothing abnormal about two MLS teams facing each other in the preseason. The Red Bulls, however, are not the ideal team NYCFC wants to face and vice versa. The three times the two will meet in the regular season will probably have an impact on the playoff picture so it would not make much sense for either team to roll out a full first team with a specific game plan.

The Red Bulls will press high up the field and NYCFC will try to play its way out of the back. Both teams will follow their general principles so it comes down to how much of an understanding there is among both sets of players. For New York City, that means seeing how well the goalkeeper and back line work with one another to move the ball away from pressure. There will be turnovers and it could lead to goals, a result of preseason sloppiness. If City’s players already show an understanding among themselves on how and when to move off the ball under pressure then that’s an encouraging sign for City’s chances against the Red Bulls in the regular season.

Miguel Camargo and Alexander Ring

Miguel Camargo and Alexander Ring are with the team in Arizona and should make their preseason debuts for NYCFC. Camargo is coming off a knee injury so he may see less time in his first preseason action but the attacking midfielder spot is up for grabs. Check to see how Camargo links up with the front three and also how he moves into midfield to help City move the ball into the attacking half of the field.

Ring signed during Germany’s winter break and is also coming off an injury so don’t assume he’s entirely match fit. That’s not a bad thing considering he will have about two months off the field or the standard off-season. Ring should be familiar with the geigenpress from his time in Germany so he should have an understanding of how to help teams counter that. Andoni Iraola’s understanding of space and when and where to move into it to help link defense to midfield was a big part of the team’s success last year. How Ring interprets his surroundings could have a similar impact.

Diskerud in the Shop Window

The awkward saga that has been NYCFC’s efforts to move Mix Diskerud continues in Arizona. There will be much interest from around MLS in Arizona this week even though other league teams have not been interested in trading for the midfielder. That doesn’t mean they’re not interesting in signing him. City put itself in a corner with how it has handled Diskerud and now has less than a month to move him or commit to paying another $750,000, including the allocation funds needed to buy down his budget charge.

Diskerud and NYCFC both cannot afford him not playing in the tournament. He needs to show watching eyes that he can help and City need him to show that as well. That means taking minutes away from someone who could actually play for NYCFC this year. A happy ending for all might happen in Arizona but the saga has to end soon right?