New York City Football Club continue their run of home games by welcoming Sporting Kansas City to Citi Field
Here’s the Keys to the Match, presented by Tri-State Ford…
When it was clear that NYCFC would enjoy five consecutive home games in a row it was vital the team used that to their advantage.
After wins against Real Salt Lake, Toronto FC and San Jose Earthquakes the team have climbed up past the playoff line and into fifth place. The Boys in Blue also have a game in hand on the three teams below them, and as they move into the next phase of this run it’s important their momentum does not slow down.
Sporting KC have had a mixed start to the campaign and arrive in New York off the back of a 2-2 draw with FC Dallas. Saturday’s game at Citi Field represents another opportunity for three points provided the team can approach the match with the same quality and intensity that have defined the previous games in this run.
One of the major themes to emerge from NYCFC’s three-game winning run is how well the team have done in the final third.
That efficiency in front of goal speaks to the team’s attacking quality but also the depth. Head Coach Ronny Deila has a wealth of options to choose from, and that was firmly on show against Toronto and San Jose with the second half introduction of Gabriel Pereira and Maxi Moralez from the bench.
In the case of Moralez, the playmaker is returning to the fold after a spell out with injury and his presence offers Deila the kind of selection headaches most coaches dream of. NYCFC’s attacking options are varied in their approach and that affords Deila versatility when constructing his match plan. The same will be true on Saturday night against Sporting KC.
Being able to change the pattern of a game, or adjust your team’s strategy can often be contingent on the substitutes at your disposal, and for NYCFC the options are there, making them a constant threat.
Keep It Clean
While NYCFC have shown no shyness in front of goal what will also have impressed Deila of late is the team’s improved defensive record.
When the team has been able to name a natural back four of late they have looked defensively strong, recording clean sheets against RSL and San Jose. While a clean sheet is the consequence of the entire team’s effort defensively, special mention should go to those at the back for providing a solid foundation.
Club Captain Sean Johnson has stood up well when called upon, while Thiago Martins is growing into his role alongside the ever-imperious Alex Callens. Tayvon Gray and Malte Amundsen have also found reliability on both sides of the ball, and all five will be hoping for another clean sheet on Saturday. Sporting KC have only managed to score more than one goal in a game once this season and currently sit as the second-lowest scoring side in MLS in 2022.
If NYCFC can stifle those attacking endeavors further it will not only push them towards a victory but also further cement the team’s defensive momentum as they pursue a spot atop the Eastern Conference.