The opening match of the season could have been better for NYCFC. The ongoing negative streak of negative results away from home and the poor chemistry level were enough to have the fanbase asking questions.
All valid, in my opinion, but knowing that there are about 8 months of the regular season to play should give the team time to find the winning formula. The upcoming match against Chicago Fire is another challenge in the long road ahead. It can also be viewed as an opportunity to fix the mistakes made. Especially knowing that the rival opens the season a week late.
- NYCFC eyeing playoff appearance, but Inter Miami stands in their path
- Talles Magno keeps NYCFC in the playoff race
- NYCFC wins in the Bronx and continues the playoff push
What to look for from NYCFC:
The match itself is a double-edged sword for the Boys In Blue. The rival hasn’t shown material to be analyzed, so anything should be based on performances from last season. This alone has the team on alert because they can either be an improved side that drags yet another defeat or they allow NYCFC to return home in good spirits for their home opening match. However, we’re forgetting that the weather will be a determining factor in the match if the snow forecast stands. Pointless remark? For some, yes. For others, not so much, but I rather take every possibility into account for future references. For the time being, I predict a 1-0 win or a 2-2 draw, for some strange reason, I don’t see NYCFC losing this match.
In terms of lineups, I keep the XI from Nashville untouched. I believe that the team displayed a good level of control at times and firmly believe that the group should be given one more chance to take the field. Should the result not be positive, the home opener is the match to switch things around.
Despite this, there will be one variation that is certain, Tayvon Gray will be missing the match due to an injury. “We don’t want to rush his recovery, he continues to work separately but will evaluate him before the match,” said Head coach Nick Cushing at the pre-match press conference.
The reason I’m confident that he misses the game is that he hasn’t trained with the group, and we’re only a few hours away from the match. I mean, look at what happened to Alfredo Morales, injured last minute with the injury report clean. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mitja Ilenic in his place, but even Kevin O’Toole could be in the mix.
Secret weapons for the immediate future:
When the team announced James Sands’ return from the Rangers, it was an automatic booster for the team. His chemistry with most of the players in the current squad increased the chances of more confident transitions within his areas of strength, the midfield, and defense.
Within those areas, he grew up alongside Barraza, Keaton Parks, Justin Haak, and Maxime Chanot. So adding that connection to Sands’ experience from abroad can result in interesting combinations down the line. The team must give Cufre continuity, he showed interesting glimpses of his attacking abilities when the opportunities took place, so at least in that aspect, he can become the Callens replacement we didn’t know we had.
Last but not least, Santiago Rodriguez is the missing connection in midfield. I know I’ve talked about him already, but upon his return, he could become a mentor to Pellegrini. The youngster has the talent but perhaps needs some guidance to define his playing style. It’s not too crazy to hope for a Santi appearance in the home opener against Inter Miami. One way or another, this team has great potential and can go far this season once everyone arrives. In the meantime, all eyes are on Chicago Fire.