New York City Football Club are at Yankee Stadium on Sunday to face Colorado Rapids.
Here’s the Keys to the Match, presented by Ford.
The international break has been a welcome opportunity for the majority of players and staff to rest and recharge.
The team’s return to action this Sunday brings with it an excitement. While a good portion of the season is already behind us, there is still so much to aim for, with U.S. Open Cup, Supporters’ Shield, and MLS Cup all still to play for.
That journey begins on Sunday, and it promises to be an exciting one.
Three Is The Magic Number
Interim Head Coach Nick Cushing touched on it briefly during his press conference earlier this week, but Colorado Rapids are a team that pose a unique test.
The Rapids typically set up in a back-three system. Robin Fraser has diverted from that briefly to use a 4-3-3 system, but more often than not his changes occur with the players in front of the defensive three.
Last time out against Nashville SC the team operated in a 3-5-2 and that system may well be their strategy on Sunday. NYCFC are equally comfortable in a back-three system and used it during both legs against Comunicaciones in the Concacaf Champions League.
Cushing and his staff will have a decision to make, with both options providing pros and cons. Regardless, that tactical flexibility is woven into the team for moments like this, and will allow NYCFC to pick the system they feel gives them the best chance of control and ultimately success.
One of the key avenues of attack the Rapids utilize is during transitions.
The team’s roster has undergone some significant changes of late. Head Coach Robin Fraser added U.S. Men’s National Team forward Gyasi Zardes to the roster as a marquee forward. Alongside him is a familiar face to NYCFC fans in Jonathan Lewis.
Their combination of skills blends well. Lewis’ pace and dribbling can not only run in behind, but also open up pockets of space that a poacher like Zardes thrives on. One of the easiest ways for the Rapids to generate those types of opportunities is via exploiting quick transitions and being direct.
NYCFC will need to be aware of this threat on Sunday and manage it carefully if they are to emerge victorious.