HOUSTON, TX – It’s certainly been a week of off-the-field developments (and non-developments) for Patrick Vieira and his New York City FC side. Outwardly, the club has been surrounded by uncertainty but players and manager alike were all-business training this week. For everyone, it will be refreshing to get back to the business of just playing soccer.
Speaking of refreshment
BREAKING: NYCFC Nation is hosting a happy hour at @ryansdaughterny for the upcoming match against Houston on Friday. Free beer and food starts at 7PM. Free Jameson shot for anyone who purchases our scarf too! #NYCFC pic.twitter.com/XYNvcCx7n5
— NYCFC Nation (@NYCFCNation) May 23, 2018
Houston Dynamo (15 pts; 4W-3L-3D; 6th in the West)
The Dynamo should be a better team than they are. After blowing out Atlanta 4-0 in the season opener, Wilmer Cabrera‘s squad set lofty expectations for their fan base. The Orange and White went winless in their next four matches, but all were against stiff competition and they held their own. Houston had a combined -3 goal differential in that stretch before emphatically downing a full-rotation Toronto squad 5-1. Since that match Houston has been inconsistent, with a 2W-1L-1D record.
The results have to be frustrating for the Houston faithful, who have been dazzled on a seemingly weekly basis by the attacking midfield duo of Alberth Ellis and Romell Quioto. The Honduran pair have accounted for 9 of Houston’s 23 goals. Colombian striker Mauro Manotas is also doing his part with 5 goals this season, though he’s been quiet of late with only a single goal since the end of April. And don’t sleep on ageless wonder DeMarcus Beasely – Houston’s attack in the first half of last week’s match against Chicago went almost exclusively through him up the left side. He can still make people look foolish.
The Dynamo’s style is one of creating turnovers in the midfield and immediately turning up field to Ellis, Quioto or Manotas. Each is lightning quick, technically sound, and lethal within 20 yards. The battles to watch will certainly be the NYCFC fullbacks against the Hondurans.
New York City FC (24 pts; 7W-2L-3D; 2nd in the East)
City is coming off a morale-boosting 4-0 drubbing of the Colorado Rapids. In a week where training was clouded by rumors of Patrick Vieira’s possible departure, the NYCFC boss will be happy to shift the story back to his club’s play on the field. Despite the result, Vieira seemed disappointed in the Pigeons’ play last weekend.
“I was really annoyed and really frustrated at halftime because we had some opportunities to play together but at times made some selfish decisions. Our collective game was much better in the second half and that allowed us to score those goals.”
The eye test over the last few matches bears out Vieira’s frustrations, with players – including David Villa – maybe trying to do too much individually in some cases. Oddly enough, in years past I’ve criticized City forwards for not being selfish enough in many situations, opting to make an extra pass instead of taking the shot. It seems the opposite has been occasionally true this season, with forwards and midfielders alike taking ill-advised shots on goal.
NYCFC’s midfield and centerbacks will have to be on high alert against Houston as they try to poke the ball away and create that breakaway situation. Careless passing will be taken advantage of, and centerback positioning will be key in mitigating chances created from possession changes.
Both Alex Ring and Yangel Herrera are one yellow card away from an accumulation suspension. However, Ring is one clean match away from having his total reduced, thanks to the Good Behavior Incentive. The rule reduces a player’s card total by one for five consecutive matches without receiving discipline. Herrera received his most recent card two weeks ago against LAFC and is not yet eligible for reduction.
Houston Dynamo (4-2-3-1): Willis; Wenger, Machado, Fuenmayor, Beasley; Garcia, Alexander; Ellis, Martinez, Quioto; Manotas
New York City FC (4-3-3): Johnson; Tinnerholm, Ibeagha, Callens, Sweat; Moralez, Ring, Herrera; Medina, Villa, Berget