Show the Foe: NYCFC
After tying against the dialed in New England Revolution on Wednesday, the Union travel to Yankee Stadium to take on NYCFC. Yankee Stadium is the same location where the Union saw their 2018 season end, so the blue and gold are looking to get their revenge on Saturday against the other New York rival.
NYCFC’s Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): GK Brad Stuver- D Ben Sweat, D Seabastien Ibeagha, D Max Chanot, D Anton Tinnerholm- M Jesus Medina, M Alex Ring ©, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, – F Alexander Mitrita, F Maxi Moralez, F Valentin Castellanos
Player to watch: Forward, Valentin Castellanos
Lineup Analysis: This is the best guess for a NYCFC lineup, as they are known to shift a lot of guys around. Not to mention through international call-ups and injuries, NYCFC is missing about six starters for this contest. Among the notable names are goalkeeper Sean Johnson, mainstay center back Alex Callens, and leading scorer Heber. For NYCFC, the depth will be tested as it is a next man up mentality for this match. With a bunch of notable names out of the lineup including their leading scorer, I expect NYCFC to go back to an old approach and have their play-maker Maxi Moralez in a holding forward role up top. Dynamic midfielder and desginated player Jesus Medina should take Moralez’s usual midfield spot. NYCFC experimented with Moralez up top earlier in the season before Heber was signed. Alex Mitrita and Valentin Castellanos will be able to run of Moralez and cause chaos for the Union back-line. Mitrita is a newer version of former MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco, and can beat defenders one on one and bury shots from left and right. Castellanos is a speed threat who also has the ability of beating defenders one on one. If the Union push up they need to keep an eye on Castellanos who has the ability to get behind defenses and score on the break away.
Union’s Projected Starting XI (4-1-2-1-2): GK Matt Freese- D Kai Wagner, D Auston Trusty, D Jack Elliott, Raymon Gaddis- M Haris Medunjanin, M Jamiro Monteiro, M Alejandro Bedoya ©, M Brendan Aaronson- F Kacper Przybylko, F Sergio Santos
Player to Watch: Midfielder, Ilsinho
Lineup Analysis: Not much should change with the lineup that just played in New England on Wednesday. The only notable absence is goalkeeper and 2019 MLS All-Star Andre Blake, who is playing with his native Jamaica in the Gold Cup. The diamond midfield will have to be sharp technically, as NYCFC does have the very narrow field. Expect Przybylko to see a lot of crosses in the box, as it is tough to play Sergio Santos behind the backline on a smaller field. The player to watch on Saturday is in fact super sub Ilsinho. If there was a “Six Man” award in the MLS, Ilsinho would run away with it. With his ability to beat defenders one on one as well as his technical passing ability, Ilsinho could be lethal on a smaller field. I could see him attracting numerous defenders thus causing Union forwards to free up in the box. Expect the Union to go to Ilsinho heavy and often in order to try and get some dangerous scoring chances.
Last Contest between the clubs: Halloween was not an enjoyable holiday for the Union in 2018, as the Union lost in the first round of the playoffs to NYCFC at Yankee Stadium. Former NYCFC legend David Villa ran wild in that game as he helped assist the opening goal from Tajouri-Shradi, as well put one in the back of the net to give NYCFC a 2-0 lead. NYFC went on to win 3-1 in what was a sloppy and disappointing game from the Union.
Match Preview: NYCFC is without six starters. But beating them in New York is easier said than done. If the Union want to win they’re going to have to out-shoot this New York team. They’re going to need to put pressure on a back four that hasn’t played together much. Brad Stuver quite simply isn’t Sean Johnson so the more shots and pressure on him, the more the Union may put one in the back of the net. Defensively although it is a small field, the Union’s back four cannot get caught cheating up as NYCFC is dangerous on the long ball on such a small field. Castellanos and Mitrita like to get behind the line, so Gaddis and Wagner have to be careful moving up the flanks. Overall, I feel the game will be won in the midfield since everything is so tight and compact on Yankee Stadium’s field. Monteiro, Bedoya, and Medunjanin have to be on the same page and make sure they win the ball to help the Union win in the possession battle. I feel both teams will be able to score but I believe the blue and gold can steal three points and win this one 2-1.
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Mandatory Credit: Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports