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New York FC vs DC United Game Preview

NYCFC - (4-2-3-1) - Luis Barraza, Maxime Chanot, Thiago Martins, Brian Cufré, Mitja Ilenič, Keaton Parks, Santiago Rodríguez, James Sands, Gabriel Pereira, Matías Pellegrini, Talles Magno

Subs - Matthew Freese, Kevin O'Toole, Tayvon Gray, Malte Amundsen, Tony Alfaro, Thiago Andrade, Andres Jasson, Alfredo Morales, Gabriel Segal

Captain - Maxime Chanot

DC United - (4-4-2) - Tyler Miller, Ruan, Steve Birnbaum, Derrick Williams, Mo Jeahze, Pedro Santos, Russell Canouse, Mateusz Klich, Chris Durkin, Christian Benteke, Ted Ku-DiPietro

Subs - Alex Bono, Matai Akinmboni, Kristen Fletcher, Jackson Hopkins, Nigel Robertha, Victor Pálsson, Yamil Asad, Jacob Greene

Captain - Steve Birnbaum

New York City FC- Nick Cushing

Beginning his first full season as head coach of the Pigeons, Cushing is still looking to put his full stamp on the team. Brought on as an assistant by former head coach Ronny Deila in January 2020, Cushing was a part of the MLS Cup winning team, and saw the team at its best. Cushing became interim head coach on June 13, 2022 when Deila left for a job in Belgium. It’s been a mixed bag for Cushing, his team having won 11, drawn 6, and lost 10. In his defense, he became the head coach as his team lost its best player in Taty Castellanos. Now he is overseeing a rebuild project as a number of the mainstays who won MLS Cup have moved on.

DC United - Wayne Rooney

Keys to the Match: 

Can DC United’s Defense Keep City Down? NYCFC is playing better than they did in the first game of the season, but scoring is still a problem for the team. NYCFC have logged just two goals in three games, and one of those was an own goal that was deflected into the net by an Inter Miami defender. DC, on the other hand, has given up five goals in three games. The defense for the Black & Red did look better, with its starting Center-Backs playing together, but there was that moment of individual error which led to Orlando’s lone goal. Coach Rooney says the team has to maintain its organization and individuals need to stay focused. If they do that the team can be successful.

Can DC Handle NYCFC’s Press? The Pigeons used a highly effective press on Inter Miami to initiate their attack. They pressed high up the pitch and used the narrow dimensions of their home field to force 18 turnovers. DC did not always handle the pressure well when it played in Columbus, which has reinforced preconceived notions about their ability to play this season. In truth DC has shown a greatly improved ability to control the ball, and to move it forward into the attack. A good showing in the Big Apple could go a long way in changing the perception of the team. A poor one will just reinforce it.

Who Will Score for United? Through three matches, DC has four different goal scorers. This is good that the team has multiple players capable of putting the ball on target, but if it’s to take advantage of this it needs to find consistency. Christian Benteke has shown he can put himself in dangerous positions, now the team has to get him the ball, and he needs to finish. As Benteke makes himself a goal threat, his teammates have to take advantage of chances that will present themselves. In all three games so far, DC United have shown they can create scoring opportunities, now the players have to have the confidence to put the ball on goal, and the calmness to finish.

Things to Watch: 

Offense - DC United will continue to try to build out of the back, but with New York pressing, don’t be surprised if the Black & Red are more direct than usual. Christen Benteke’s ability to hold up the ball will be a key to breaking down the Pigeon’s defense. This is a game where Robertha, Hopkins and Fletcher could be useful in making runs behind the defense. James Sands has returned to NYCFC, and is expected to solidify the defensive midfield, and give cover to their back line, but in the past he has shown he can be rattled if put under pressure. Would expect Rooney to have the team moving without the ball to force Sands and Keaton Parks to follow and move out of position.

Defense - The field at Yankee Stadium is notorious for its size and dimensions. The smaller field has been an advantage that the boys in blue have used to great results. In this regard, DC has never won in Yankee Stadium (last year’s victory over NYCFC took place at Red Bull arena). However this narrower field could be used by DC. The team has shown a good ability to tie up the middle of the field, so could make it very difficult for the Pigeons to have any offensive rhythm. An expectation would be for Rooney to employ a deeper line, and have Birnbaum and Williams reduce the space Talles Magno has to run behind. At the same time expect Russell Canouse to mark and press newly returned DP Santiago Rodríguez. If those two can be contained, DC should be able to continue New York’s dirth of goals.

NYCFC offense ranks 19th in MLS with 2 goals, 0.7 per match.

NYCFC’s Gabriel Pereira has scored the team’s 1 goal (he is 17th in league) this season. The team’s 2nd goal was an own goal by Inter Miami.

NYCFC ranks 15th in MLS in goal differential with 2 goals scored and 3 goals conceded for a -1 goal differential.

DC United’s 4 goals in 3 games rank them 7th in the league.

Mateusz Klich,  Ted Ku-DiPietro, Chris Durkin and Christian Benteke have each scored 1 goal (all tied for 17th in league) this season.

DC United’s Mohanad Jeahze has 2 assists (first in the league).

DC United’s defense ranks 20th in the league with 5 goals allowed, 1.7 per match.

Richard -  1 - 1  

Both teams have found scoring to be problematic, having squandered good opportunities in the first 3 games. Yankee Stadium doesn’t invite open and free play. Both teams will find the back of the net once, but that will be it.

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