FIFA dates are a lightning-rod topic when it comes to Major League Soccer. The league is possibly the only one in the world that plays through international dates, and its constituent squads sometimes suffer for it. Don Garber has noted in the past that it falls to the teams themselves to decide whether they want to play on FIFA dates or not, but New York City FC is in an awkward position of already having to schedule home matches around the New York Yankees, so having to stipulate further is likely not feasible. With that in mind, City actually have an off-week after this weekend’s match against Montreal, and more than a few NYC players will be stretching their legs globally. Let’s take a look.
In a report from Luxemburger Wort and according to team manager Luc Holtz, defender Maxime Chanot will be called up to play for Luxembourg in their World Cup Qualifying match against France on March 25. Luxembourg are currently in last place in their UEFA Group A, with only one point from an October 10 draw with Belarus. It’s safe to say that Luxembourg will not be advancing. The Red Lions will also play a friendly against Cape Verde on March 28.
In a Tweet from the Finnish Association (Huuhkajat) it was revealed that Alexander Ring will be called up for his country’s qualifier against Turkey on March 24, and a later friendly against Austria on March 28. Finland currently sit second from the bottom in UEFA Group I, with their loan point coming in a draw from their opening match with Kosovo.
La Federación Venezolana de Fútbol announced Yangel Herrera will be joining the Venezuelan senior squad in their matches against Peru (March 25) and Chile (March 28). While he’s been successful with the Venezuelan U-20s, the senior squad sits in last place in CONMEBOL qualifying with only five points in twelve matches including a draw with Peru, an impressive draw with Argentina, and a 5-0 trouncing of Bolivia.
La Federación Panameña de Fútbol announced City midfielder Miguel Camargo will join the national team in its qualifiers against Trinidad & Tobago (March 24) and the United States (March 28). Camargo, on loan from Chorillo Football Club in Panama, has yet to make a league appearance in Blue and White, but City faithful will hopefully get a taste of what he’s capable of in these matches. He was injured when joining NYCFC, but the call-up should mean he’s ready to make an impact.
Not yet announced but surely to be sooner or later, Ronald Matarrita will likely be getting a call once again for his native Costa Rica. La Sele will take on Mexico (March 24) and Honduras (March 28). Costa Rica are leading “the Hex” with two wins in two matches played, including a dominant 4-0 thrashing of the United States. Also worth noting: Rodney Wallace rarely gets to play for Costa Rica, but he does tend to get the call for his nation.
What does this all mean for New York City? It means a lot of travel for guys that get first-team minutes with the club. We don’t have any matches scheduled for the week in question, but everyone listed has a match on March 28th, only four days before City’s next match against San Jose. With the 29th likely being a travel day for the players, that leaves only one or two days of training to prepare. The likely absence of Matarrita and Wallace, combined with that of Camargo leaves City woefully thin on the left side of the pitch. However, this opens up some opportunity for the depth guys like Kwame Awuah, Ben Sweat, and John Stertzer. It also opens up a slot for cult-hero Tommy McNamara to perhaps reassert himself as a starter in the eyes of Patrick Vieira.