This Saturday, Philly’s boys in blue will try to beat their newest rivals from New York. NYCFC was an expansion team last year, and played the Union three times. The Union’s all time record against NYCFC is 1-1-1. But with a new season comes new challenges.This New York team is an interesting one. From the start, NYCFC has had a quintessential superstar on their team. Their first signing was the Spanish international, and world cup winner, David Villa. They also have the second most international players in MLS, notably aging superstars Andrea Pirlo, and Frank Lampard. NYCFC has yet to really convert their amount of star power to consistent winning in the league.
This week’s fixture is important for both clubs. As the Both teams look to get back on the right track after tough road losses last weekend. The Union have had a hot start at home this season winning both games,and have obtained a goal differential of plus four. They have played good high pressure in their home games and have had also had heroic efforts from individual players like CJ Sapong, Tranquillo Barnetta, and of course Andre Blake. This is encouraging as NYCFC come to town.
Since winning their first game of the season, NYCFC have drawn twice, and lost three times. They can’t seem to find ways to clinch three points at the moment. They have blown leads, and have lacked the creative spark to find a winning goal in a tied game. This favors the Union, and their counter-attacking style of play.
The Union will look to high press NYCFC, as the visitors have featured a lineup that only has three players in the back, and five in the midfield. The crowded midfield, and the lack of defenders to cover a break, means the Union attackers will likely have chances to press, and get forward down the wings, and whip crosses into the box. New York did change their lineup to a 4-3-3 last weekend, but if they do this again this weekend, then Philly will press even higher to put pressure on the defensive four.
New York is desperate for a win and their only win this season did come on the road at Chicago, so expect NYCFC to start the game guns blazing. If The Union can successfully press the New York defenders, and midfielders into making mistakes then the game will present many opportunities for the Union to create scoring chances through the possession based style of counter attack that draws an already lacking Defensive line forward.
The Union have had some injury concerns as of late however which could haunt them this weekend. First year defender Ken Tribbett picked up a mid week injury last week and was sidelined during the Union’s loss to Seattle as a consequence. Brazilian sensation Ilshino has not played in the past two matches due to dealing with a leg injury, however coach Jim Curtin has claimed that he looks good enough to be in the eighteen this week.
On the other side of the coin however, players who were injured earlier this season for the Union look to be back to full strength, as midfielder Vincent Nogueira played all ninety minutes at Seattle and had his best game of the season so far. Tranquillo Barnetta has consistently made an impact off the bench in the past two matches and with Roland Alberg not being available for this weeks match, look for Barnetta to get his first start of the season. The Union’s lineup will likely look like this for this weeks matchup:
Blake, Fabinho, Marquez, Yaro, Rosenberry, Creavalle, Nogueira, Pontius, Barnetta, Le Toux, Sapong.
The Union will look to catch New York out on the counterattack by pressing higher than usual. The lineup and style implemented this offseason should allow them to do this successfully. The back line will likely retain the same shape as we saw last week and is going to have to be up to the task of stoping World class players like Villa and Pirlo. If the Union can successfully stifle New York’s chances, and hit them hard on the counter attack, then this game should result in Philly getting all three points and NYCFC going home winless in it’s last six games.
Photo credit: Reuters
Philadelphia Union Editor of Soccer Content
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