New York City Football Club take on Orlando City SC on Sunday.
Here are the Keys to the Match, presented by Ford.
Back On Track
Nick Cushing’s side returned to winning ways last Sunday night with a hard-fought victory over Chicago Fire, thanks to a Gabriel Pereira rocket and Santiago Rodríguez strike.
The victory ended a four-game winless run and restored some much-needed confidence for the Boys in Blue heading into the final stretch of the season.
Defensively solid and threatening on the attack with Justin Haak and Nicolás Acevedo starring in Midfield, the squad claimed a deserved victory and having surrendered leads in their previous two trips on the road, pleasingly were able to see out the game relatively comfortably.
Addressing the squad on Tuesday before training, Interim Head Coach Cushing spoke of the ‘hard work togetherness, intensity, grit and determination' that put the team back on track and called upon every single player to maintain the same level of ‘focus and application on and off the pitch’ from now to the end of the season.
NYCFC could well look back on this August period as a decisive turning point in what has been a season of change. Now it’s time to build some momentum…
Tale of Two Cities
This weekend’s fixture sees third and fifth place in the MLS standings go head-to-head at the Exploria Stadium.
New York sit nine points clear of Orlando (45/36) with a far superior goal difference (18/-7) but the Lions have won their last two successive games, defeating Red Bulls and Charlotte FC on the road.
Oscar Pareja’s men left it late to snatch three points last time out, as Tesho Akindele scored an 89th-minute winner to lift his side into the play-off places.
This will be the first meeting of the season for the two teams, though the Boys in Blue enjoyed the 2021 encounters with a 1-1 away draw and 5-0 home rout.
We have locked horns on 20 occasions competitively and are unbeaten in 12, including our last two, having registered some memorable victories along the way, in particular our 5-0 and 5-3 triumphs.
Despite mixed fortunes in 2022 MLS, Pareja has guided Orlando to the US Open Cup Final, where they will face Sacramento Republic in September.
If New York are to emerge victorious on Sunday, we will have to do so without the help of Santiago Rodríguez, who is suspended for the game due to yellow card accumulation.
The Uruguayan, who earned a bench spot in the MLS Team of the Week and Honorable Mention in their Best Young Performers shortlist, picked up a booking in the 72nd minute of our win over Chicago, meaning he will miss this game along with Orlando’s Mauricio Pereyra.
Orlando who have won 10, lost 10 and drawn six MLS games so far this season and have favored a 4-2-3-1 formation in their last five matches, will also be without influential Forward Alexandre Pato, who is set to undergo knee surgery, while Robin Jansson missed their win against Charlotte with a foot injury.
New Kid On The Block
Our new recruit arrived off waivers until the end of the season and his arrival could provide a timely boost as we enter the home stretch.
The Midfielder describes his playing style as a left or right winger who can also play inside. A team player who ‘always gives 100%’, he hopes to settle in quickly in a bid to make an impact and aid our playoff hopes.
He told NYCFC.com: “It’s true, I am arriving towards the end of the season.
“My goals are to adapt to the team as quickly as possible, to respond and give the coaching staff what they ask of me and to help this team qualify and then throughout the playoffs.
“I’m very excited to play. I’m always going to give my all for this jersey.”