New York City FC begin their postseason run with a Round One visit from Atlanta United.
Here’s the Keys to the Match, presented by Tri-State Ford…
Make Some Noise
One of the important conclusions of Decision Day for NYCFC was securing a home fixture in Round One of the Playoffs.
The team’s record at Yankee Stadium is formidable – losing just six times in 70 games played. One of the major factors behind that successful return is the atmosphere generated by supporters. Sunday will be another opportunity to show why that is, with Ronny Deila delighted that he gets to renew acquaintances with NYCFC fans.
The team’s meeting with Atlanta United is a major first step for a team with big aspirations, and a raucous home crowd would be the perfect advantage to unsettle our visitors as they venture north.
Exploit The Space
Gonzalo Pineda has been somewhat flexible with his choice of system since taking over at Atlanta United, but one consistent theme has been the use of a back three.
In front of that, Pineda has rotated between wingbacks and wide midfielders depending on the opponent. While that affords Pineda many benefits, one of the potential frailties is represented in the space behind those wide players.
NYCFC are blessed with a number of dangerous attacking options down the flanks, and if they can inhabit those spaces, behind Pineda’s wide players, and isolate themselves against Atlanta’s defenders in wide areas it could be a perfect opportunity to exploit.
The Front Three
There is no argument that Atlanta’s biggest strength rests in their attack. In Josef Martinez they have one of the league’s best strikers, while new signing Luiz Araújo has added creativity and trickery in the final third. Joining them is Ezequiel Barco, another promising young player.
What unites Atlanta’s attacking options is speed of thought and movement. The last time the two sides met, the Five Stripes goal came via a turnover and quick counter-attack. That will be something NYCFC must watch on Sunday as they try to strike a balance between defensive solidity and attacking intent.