New York City FC kicks off its home opener this Sunday against DC United at Yankee Stadium in what is likely to be less-than-optimal weather (Sunday’s forecast is for a high of 35!)
Will lady victory be giving NYCFC the cold shoulder? We’ll find out; but for now here are some things to watch for:
Buck the Trend:
NYCFC has historically opened the season poorly, though they’ve never lost their opening match until this year. Will City once again need an adjustment period as up to five new starters find their feet? Or will this be the year that City finally strings together a consistent season, start-to-finish?
It’s going to be cold Sunday afternoon, and windy to boot. Yankee Stadium has notorious wind dynamics on the field, and if City maintains a similar strategy to what they did in Orlando, those long crosses into the box are going to carry. Look for Maxi Moralez, Alexander Ring and Jack Harrison to get a lot of touches as they shuttle the ball forward on the ground. Don’t be surprised to see Andrea Pirlo subbed off in the second half, either.
Patrick Mullins didn’t leave NYCFC on bad terms, but something DC has been missing in their matches at Yankee Stadium has been comfort on the smaller pitch (NYCFC hasn’t lost to DC United at home, ever). Mullins brings in experience with both the team and the venue, and he’s been tearing it up since he left. Maxime Chanot and Alexander Callens will have their hands full marking him out. He’s no Cyle Larin, but you can’t sleep on him. Fans will remember that Mullins made it a point to score in NYCFCs inaugural home opener against the team that didn’t protect him – New England Revolution – and kiss the NYCFC badge afterwards. You can bet Mullins already smells blood in the water for this match.
We might be lucky enough to see the debut of two MLS newcomers this weekend. First, NYCFC’s first-round pick Jonathan Lewis is back with the team after spending the preseason and opening weekend with the US U-20s in U20 World Cup Qualifying. He likely won’t start the match, but if we need an attacking threat on the outside to spell the likes of Rodney Wallace, maybe Lewis gets a look.
DC United has a much-awaited debut of their own in Homegrown midfielder Ian Harkes, son of former US National team captain (and until recently, coach of USL side FC Cincinnati) John Harkes.