Game Preview: NYCFC v. Columbus (7/14)

By Nick Fiorino (@stretch_fio)

On Saturday, NYCFC will look to win their third match of the week in the Bronx against the Columbus Crew. A victory would place the boys in blue tied atop the Eastern Conference and level on points with Atlanta United in the chase for the Supporters’ Shield heading into a twelve-day break.

Lineup Prediction

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Although three key players for NYCFC are listed as questionable on Saturday, I believe it is best to rest Jo Inge Berget, David Villa, and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, especially with a twelve day break on the horizon. That leaves Jesus Medina, Rodney Wallace, and Ronald Matarrita to man the attack alongside Maxi Moralez. The front four will likely be fluid throughout the match, with each dropping into the midfield at times to facilitate possession. Matarrita deserves the start after making a positive impact off the bench in each of the last two matches, highlighted by his goal on Wednesday night. Maxime Chanot should reclaim his starting spot in the back alongside Alexander Callens. The full-backs should remain the same, as well as the midfield defensive two. Do not be surprised, however, to see Tommy McNamara grab his second start of the week in the attack or the midfield.

Recent Form

NYCFC: DWLWW

NYCFC’s red hot form continues, winning four of the last six matches and staying undefeated at home. City’s nine home victories are an MLS best, with no other club tallying more than six.

Columbus: DLLWL

The Crew have won just one of their last seven matches, and are coming off a 4-0 defeat against the LA Galaxy. Still fourth in the Eastern Conference, however, the Crew could jump into the top three with a win on Saturday night.

Previous Meeting

The last meeting between these two clubs is tough for City fans to forget, as it was the second leg of last season’s playoff disappointment. Headed into the home leg trailing 4-1, NYCFC had a huge hill to climb, and almost did. Rodney Wallace won a penalty in the 14’, which David Villa converted. An Andraz Struna shot in the 52’ was deflected and hit the back of the net, creating a 4-3 aggregate scoreline. The rest of the match was defined by City misses, Zack Steffen saves, and both posts, as NYCFC was again eliminated in the first round.

Head to Head Record: 3-3-3

Standings

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Player Spotlight

NYCFC: Maxi Moralez

The unsung hero of the first half of the season, Maxi Moralez has played in all but 14 minutes this season for City. His ten assists are tied for most in the league, and his seven goals are only one behind the team lead. Even more impressively, Moralez ranks sixth in MLS in expected goals plus assists, placing him in elite company. While NYCFC’s stars have been injured, El Frasquito has shouldered the load for City, and is arguably the team’s MVP through the first half of the 2018 campaign.

Columbus: Gyasi Zardes

Many may not realize it, but USMNT Forward Gyasi Zardes has revitalized his club career in Columbus. Tied for second in goals scored and alone in second place in expected goals in the league, Zardes is the key to the Crew’s attack. His eleven goals are the second most he has scored in any MLS season. On top of those accolades, Zardes has played the second most minutes in MLS this season, showcasing a durability that few goal scorers possess. Columbus’ recent acquisition of Patrick Mullins will only take some pressure off Zardes, who is the new centerpiece of the Crew attack.

Player Stats

NYCFC

Goals: David Villa (8), Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (8), Maxi Moralez (7)

Assists: Maxi Moralez (10), Jesus Medina (7), David Villa (4)

Home Goals: David Villa (5), Maxi Moralez (5)

Columbus

Goals: Gyasi Zardes (11), Federico Higuain (4),7 Players (1)

Assists: Federico Higuain (7), Pedro Santos (4), 4 Players (2)

Away Goals: Federico Higuain and Gyasi Zardes (1)

 

Follow Nick Fiorino on Twitter at @stretch_fio and The Third Rail at @ThirdRailSC. Interested in learning more about the Third Rail? Visit our website at thirdrail.nyc for merchandise, weekly game previews and more. Interested in joining? Click here.

Watch NYCFC v Columbus on YES Network at 7:00  ET or Listen on WNYE 91.5 FM

Game Preview: NYCFC v. Montreal (7/11)

By Nick Fiorino (@stretch_fio)

On the tail end of the Hudson River Derby, City’s most impressive win of the season and a tactical masterpiece by Domè, NYCFC will look to continue their incredible home form (8-0-1) against the red hot Montreal Impact. The quick turnaround will certainly be difficult, while also looking ahead to Saturday’s match against Columbus in only three days as well.

Lineup Prediction

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With three games in a seven day span and injuries to several key starters, City’s lineup will be difficult to predict. After a solid thirty minutes off the bench on Sunday, I believe that Ronald Matarrita will get the start, giving Ben Sweat rest. Fresh off an injury of his own, Maxime Chanot should get the night off after earning MLS team of the week honors, allowing Sebastien Ibeagha to reclaim his starting spot, if only just for a game. NYCFC Player of the Month Anton Tinnerholm should remain in the lineup, but do not be surprised for Saad Abdul-Salaam to get the nod. Jonathan Lewis deserves the start, and should get it with Ismael Tajouri-Shradi’s injury on Sunday. Lastly, I believe that Tommy McNamara will get a game under his belt after a solid Derby performance by Ebenezer Ofori.

Recent Form

NYCFC: WDWLW

As we have been saying all season, City’s form depends heavily on where a match is played. Winless in their last six road matches, Domè needs to bring a consistency to the team regardless of venue. Luckily, City’s next two matches are in the Bronx, and all three points seem necessary to keep pace with Atlanta United.

Montreal: LWWWW

After a poor run of form to begin of the season, the Impact are one of the hottest teams in the league since June. Winners of four in a row and five out of six, including four clean sheets, Montreal come to the Bronx will loads of confidence.

Previous Meeting

Last September, NYCFC traveled across the border to grab all three points against the Montreal Impact, winning 1-0. City was all over Montreal for most of the night, with Jack Harrison scoring an outside of the foot wonder-goal from a one-two with Rodney Wallace. NYCFC were unlucky to score only once, with Wallace missing golden chances and David Villa hitting the crossbar late.

Standings

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Six points behind Atlanta United with two games in hand, NYCFC have two must-win games this week to keep pace. The Impact are currently holding the final playoff position by one point, and are the only team in MLS yet to draw a match this season.

Player Spotlight

NYCFC: Jonathan Lewis

NYCFC fans know how great Jonathan Lewis has been this season, and hopefully Domè now knows as well. Even with the riches of depth that City hold on the wing, Lewis should be playing week in, week out. When Lewis sees the pitch, NYCFC simply have a more dynamic attack. His pace and ability to beat defenders one-on-one is unrivaled by any other player on this roster. Jonathan Lewis is the future of the City attack, and deserves ninety minutes to further prove so in the Bronx on Wednesday night.

Montreal: Ignacio Piatti

Ignacio Piatti is one of the most dangerous players in MLS, and he will look to showcase why on Wednesday. His efficiency on goal is incredible, scoring nine times on only fifteen shots on target. He is one of only ten players this season with over 10 expected goals plus assists, and is in the top three in key passes for forwards. Piatti has scored four times during Montreal’s four game winning streak, and is as important to the Impact as any player is to any team in the league.

Player Stats

NYCFC

Goals: David Villa (8), Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (8), Maxi Moralez (7)

Assists: Maxi Moralez (8), Jesus Medina (6), , David Villa (4)

Home Goals: David Villa (5), Maxi Moralez (5)

Montreal

Goals: Ignacio Piatti (9), Jeisson Vargas (4), Saphir Taider (3)

Assists: Ignacio Piatti (7), Alejandro Silva (5), 3 Players (3)

Away Goals: Ignacio Piatti (2)

 

Follow Nick Fiorino on Twitter at @stretch_fio and The Third Rail at @ThirdRailSC. Interested in learning more about the Third Rail? Visit our website at thirdrail.nyc for merchandise, weekly game previews and more. Interested in joining? Click here.

Watch NYCFC v Montreal on the Fox Sports Go app at 7:00  ET or Listen on WNYE 91.5 FM

Game Preview: NYCFC v. Red Bulls (7/8)

By Nick Fiorino (@stretch_fio)

Featuring:  @nycfctactics

On Sunday, NYCFC embark on a seven day, three game homestand beginning with the Bronx Edition of the 2018 Hudson River Derby. With David Villa unlikely to suit up due to injury, City’s supporting cast with face their biggest test of the season. Luckily, the boys in blue have been the best team in MLS at home this season, going undefeated (7-0-1) and conceding only 4 goals in 8 games, creating a +17 goal differential in the process. The pressure will be on for Domènec Torrent’s first New York Derby, as tactical changes must be made to beat the Red Bull press. NYCFC have responded to the pressure by making incredibly impressive hires to Torrent’s coaching staff, adding four former Barcelona assistants and trainers. With news also coming Friday that Red Bull Manager Jesse Marsch has departed the Red Bulls for Europe, the pressure will be on interim manager Chris Armas as well. We’re going to learn a lot about Domè, our club, and the rest of our season’s prospects this weekend in City’s most important match thus far.

Recent Form

NYCFC: LWDWL

Last Saturday, NYCFC traveled to Toyota Park in Chicago and blew a 2-1 lead, losing 3-2 to the Fire. Chicago winger Aleksandar Katai torched City for two goals in a five minute span, capitalizing on two mistakes by Ben Sweat. If there was any bright side to the loss, NYCFC have not suffered back-to-back losses in over two seasons, a streak dating back to April of 2016. Although losing both contests to the Red Bulls thus far in 2018, the all-time series at Yankee Stadium is tied 2-2-0.

NYRB: LDWWW

The recent form of our cross river rivals has been undeniably fantastic. They have lost only one of their last ten matches, tallying four clean sheets. Averaging two points per game, the Red Bulls rank first in the Eastern Conference, showcasing their incredibly strong start to the season.

Predicted Lineups - @NYCFCTactics

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NYCFC

NYCFC, under Domé, has been coming out in a 4-3-3 with Ring and Maxi having far more freedom than Ofori. This is putting a lot of trust in Ebenezer as a sole pivot, but with Ring at CM it’ll be easy to drop into a double pivot if the game calls for it. The back four of Sweat - Callens - Ibeagha - Anton seem to have the new gaffer’s trust, but don’t be surprised if Chanot comes in for Ibeagha.

Playing Isi on the left as an inverted winger and Lewis on the right will be great outlets over the top of the Red Bull's press. With Villa out for the foreseeable future, Berget gets a crack at being the man in the middle. Having a true targetman is a card the Blues have rarely played.  

The front four of Maxi - Isi - Berget - Lewis all have the positional flexibility to fill multiple roles. Expect Maxi to look to overload on the wings to encourage underlaps by Isi, Lewis, Sweat, and Anton, while also being an outlet in build up play from the back. Ring, with new positional freedom, will look to alleviate Maxi’s large list of responsibilities.  

NYRB

Even with Jesse Marsch officially leaving the club on Friday, assistant Chris Armas will stick to their tried and true system of 4-2-3-1 with high levels of pressing at every turn. The partnership of Parker and Long has solidified the back. Kemar Lawrence, coming off a great game, will get a go, but if Murillo is back expect Lade to sit.

The American midfield duo of Adams and Davis is amazing at setting a good base for the front three of Valot, Muyl and BWP to take risks pressing. Valot likes to sink into the midfield to playmake and alleviate pressure. Muyl (or Royer) will play opposite as a true winger. Kaku will float centrally and create pressure via passing and pressing of Ofori.

Up top, Wright-Phillips is still the focal point of the attack. Expect him to be a threat aerially running off defender’s back shoulders and beginning the press by dividing the field down the middle between NYCFC’s two centerbacks.

Why Jonathan Lewis?

After looking over NYCFC’s record against NYRB, a pattern emerged around how starting a speedster and dribbler on the wing is a good counter to the Red Bull press.

Since 2015, NYCFC is 3-1-8 in all competitions against the Reds across the river. In all four of the games where points have been earned for City, Jack Harrison started on the right wing. He was a dynamic outlet and singular chance creator that helped relieve seemingly relentless pressure. Domé needs to field a player in that mold for continued success.

That is why starting Jonathan Lewis, a player with similar attributes, will provide the highest return. He will also drive back NYRB’s opposing fullback Kemar Lawrence, potentially neutralizing the dynamic fullback. There currently is not a player on the roster that possesses the pace and the technical ability, Medina being a close second, that can deliver more bang for the buck against a high pressing opponent like the former MetroStars.

Defeating the Press

Building out the back is a principle that Patrick Vieira brought to NYCFC and has become a calling card of the club. So far, Domé hasn’t deviated drastically from this philosophy, which is shared by his role model, Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola. When facing a well executed and coordinated press like the Red Bulls, failure to clear the zone can lead to embarrassing goals against. Domé will hopefully look to offer different outlets for the Hudson River Derby. On goal kicks specifically, NYCFC has the most clear cut challenge against the Redbulls to its historical building out the back philosophy. Here are a couple of ways Domé could tackle this upcoming problem.

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All three solutions face drawbacks as there is no plan that has no risk associated with it. That being said, pragmatism and philosophical stubbornness are tools needed by managers to achieve the desired result. So let’s assess what would be the best course of action for Sunday’s night game.

The English Solution of going Route 1 goes against the philosophy of City Group’s Godking Pep, our former headman Vieira and current manager Domé. That being said, this solution does a good job of utilizing a skill, targetman, of Jo Inge Berget that David Villa does not possess. With Villa out, this is more feasible than ever before, but seems an unlikely choice by Domé.

The Vieira Solution of doing the same action time and time again, playing short and building out the back, when executed well lends itself to high levels of possession and dominance that has made NYCFC a top five club since adopting the philosophy. When this approach goes bad, however, it feels like the world is falling apart. Scorelines end up out of hand and all team momentum is crushed. This pure philosophical tactic seems unlikely from Domé, as he’s seen too much not to be pragmatic.

Lastly, the Hybrid Solution is one that combines both of these approaches. It allows for pragmatism and philosophy to coexist, triggered by reads of Sean Johnson. Just like a Run-Pass Option for a Quarterback in football, these reads are all about seeing where the defense is located and reacting accordingly. With the inclusion of Berget at center forward, the Route 1 approach is far more viable than ever before, but the DNA of the team should not be compromised so easily. The inclusion of an additional speedster in Jonathan Lewis paired with Isi on the wing allows for the ultimate release of a press, a long ball into space towards the opposition’s goal. Just like in basketball, if there is an over aggressive press, sometimes the easiest way to relieve pressure is to lead a man into space. That’s why having Jack Harrison on the field in 2017 was so important to having a positive series record, and why Jonathan Lewis may be the key to NYCFC dominance on Sunday.

Player Spotlight

NYCFC: Maxi Moralez

El Frasquito has been a revelation for NYCFC this season and will be central to City’s gameplan Sunday night. In the last league meeting between the two sides, Red Bull’s Tyler Adams man-marked Moralez for the entirety of the match, causing City trouble all afternoon. Domè will be aware of this, and surely use his tactical judgement to create time and space for Moralez on Sunday. Maxi is second in MLS among qualified players in Key Passes with 53, and is tied for second in the league with 8 assists. Looking at advanced individual statistics, Moralez ranks eighth in the league in expected goals plus assists with 10.41, placing himself in elite company. NYCFC forwards rarely get credit on the defensive end, but Jesus Medina, David Villa, and Maxi Moralez have been fantastic on both sides of the ball for a majority of the season. Maxi ranks in the top fifteen in total tackles and tackles per game among midfielders. For NYCFC to get all three points, Moralez will be key.

NYRB: Luis Robles

The Red Bull keeper has been one of the league’s all-time best, and he isn’t going away anytime soon. Already top ten in MLS history in wins and holding the league record for consecutive games played, Robles has been a thorn in City’s side from the beginning. According to American Soccer Analysis, Robles is sixth in Goals Allowed minus expected, a stat that tracks goals saved from keepers. The Red Bull keeper will certainly be key, as City’s dynamic attack at home always seems to create chances on net. Although missing some time this season, Robles has held clean sheets in back to back games, (193 consecutive minutes) and will look to do the same on Sunday.

Standings

With Atlanta United losing on Wednesday night, an NYCFC win would place them within three points of the Eastern Conference lead, with a game still in hand over Atlanta. A loss would be incredibly costly for City, however, creating a four point buffer between second and third place in the standings.

Player Stats

NYCFC

Goals: David Villa (8), Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (8), Maxi Moralez (6)

Assists: Maxi Moralez (8), Jesus Medina (6), , David Villa (4)

Home Goals: David Villa (5)

NYRB

Goals: Bradley Wright-Phillips (11), Daniel Royer (4), 3 Players (3)

Assists: Alejandro Gamarra (10), Sean Davis (6), Bradley Wright-Phillips (5)

Away Goals: Bradley Wright-Phillips and Daniel Royer (3)

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Follow Nick Fiorino on Twitter at @stretch_fio and The Third Rail at @ThirdRailSC. Interested in learning more about the Third Rail? Visit our website at thirdrail.nyc for merchandise, weekly game previews and more. Interested in joining? Click here.

Watch NYCFC v Red Bulls on FS1 at 7:00  ET or Listen on WNYE 91.5 FM

#NYISBLUE

Game Preview: NYCFC v. Chicago (6/30)

By Nick Fiorino (@stretch_fio)

On Saturday, NYCFC and Domènic Torrent, or Domè as he prefers to be called, travel to Chicago to overcome a winless road streak of 5 games (0-3-2). Luckily, Chicago are a great team to help change the run of poor away form, as City are unbeaten in their last six against the Fire (3-0-3). While Saturday’s match is incredibly important for the Eastern Conference standings, it is also the last chance for Domè to see the boys in action before arguably the most important game of the season next Sunday against our cross-river rivals, the Red Bulls.

Lineup Prediction

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David Villa has been ruled out for Saturday's match, so expect Jo Inge Berget to replace him as the number 9 up front, with Medina slotting in on the left. At halftime of last week’s match, Domè made some tactical adjustments that really turned the tides for City. He stressed that fullbacks Ben Sweat and Anton Tinnerholm stay central upon losing possession, allowing Alexander Ring to free roam at the head of the midfield. In the attack, Tinnerholm bombed forward as usual, forcing wingers Medina and Tajouri-Shradi to stay wide, forcing Toronto defenders to make decisions in space. The fluidity of the front four helped take pressure off the midfield, leading to a dominant second half. 

Recent Form

NYCFC: WLWDW

City’s home and away form are drastically different; Domè looks to finally bring about a consistency that can change that. Coming off three impressive home performances against solid Eastern conference competition, however, a road win would be the perfect result before the Bronx edition of this years’ Hudson River Derby next Sunday night.

Chicago Fire: LWDDD

Drawing their last three matches and only one point out from a playoff position, Chicago need results soon. The Fire know that NYCFC are a different team away from home with a losing record of 2-3-3, so Saturday is as good a chance as any to pick up the three points at Toyota Park.

Previous Meeting

Last September, NYCFC traveled to Toyota Park in Chicago and drew 1-1. In the 19’, Maxi Moralez was caught looking for a pass in the back, practically handing Nemanja Nikolic and the Chicago Fire the first goal of the match. Moralez made up for his mistake in the 42’, sending David Villa through on a beautifully weighted chip, cutting open the Chicago defense. Villa calmly rounded the keeper and finished, tying the match at one into halftime. NYCFC clearly was the better of the two teams in the second half, leading in possession and chances, but nothing came to fruition, and the match finished 1-1.

Match Recap and Highlights

Standings

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Player Spotlight

NYCFC: Jo Inge Berget

Many supporters have become increasingly critical of Jo Inge Berget’s performances in recent weeks, and he responded in a big way against Toronto. Scoring two goals and completing five key passes, Berget accomplished what only three other players have in a single match in the last two seasons. With a new manager in town, there is not a better time for the Norwegian forward to break out of his shell. After the match, Berget said “It feels better when I score a couple of goals instead of missing chances.” Hopefully, last week’s match was a turning point for Jo Inge, and his run of good form continues. With David Villa potentially missing the match with his groin injury, Berget will certainly have the chance.

Chicago Fire: Aleksandar Katai

Although Nemanja Nikolic has scored five of his six goals this season at Toyota Park, I believe that Aleksandar Katai is the real threat on Saturday. With three goals and one  assist in his last four games, none of which the Fire have lost, Katai is essential to Chicago’s success. The Serbian can line up on the wing, or play centrally, adding to his dynamic style of attack. On loan from Spanish club Deportivo Alavés, Katai is making his mark in MLS.

Player Stats

NYCFC:

Goals: David Villa (8), Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (7), Maxi Moralez (6)

Assists: Maxi Moralez (7), Jesus Medina (6), , David Villa (4)

Away Goals: David Villa (3), Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (3)

Chicago Fire:

Goals: Nemanja Nikolic (6), Aleksandar Katai (6), Alan Gordon (4)

Assists: Bastian Schweinsteiger (5), Brandt Bronico (6), 3 Players (3)

Home Goals: Nemanja Nikolic (5)

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Follow Nick Fiorino on Twitter at @stretch_fio and The Third Rail at @ThirdRailSC. Interested in learning more about the Third Rail? Visit our website at thirdrail.nyc for merchandise, weekly game previews and more. Interested in joining? Click here.

Watch NYCFC v Chicago on YES Network at 8:00  ET or Listen on WNYE 91.5 FM

Game Preview: NYCFC v. Toronto FC

By Nick Fiorino (@stretch_fio)

On Sunday, NYCFC returns to action in the Bronx after the international break and face Eastern Conference foe Toronto FC. Sunday will be City’s first match since Patrick Vieira’s departure to Nice, giving us our first look at new manager Domenec Torrent at the helm. Midseason managerial changes are known to ignite talented sides in world football, and NYCFC will look to do just that in front of its home supporters on Sunday.

Lineup Prediction

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I believe that the departure of Patrick Vieira will be coupled with a departure of Jo Inge Berget from the Starting XI. There is certainly a chance that NYCFC decides to line up in the 3-5-2 that caused serious problems for Atlanta United before the break, but I believe they will revert back to the 4-3-3 of old. With Jo Inge Berget hitting the bench, Jesus Medina should start on the left, allowing him to cause serious problems with his strong left foot. Jonathan Lewis may also start after a great performance against Atlanta, and with a new chance to crack the weekly team sheet. With two weeks to nurse his injury, I also believe that Maxime Chanot will reclaim his starting spot next to defensive partner Alexander Callens.

Recent Form

NYCFC: DWWWD

Unbeaten in their last five league matches and in their last seven at home (6-0-1), NYCFC will look to prove to the fans that they are a team that can overcome coaching adversity and make a run for the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup.

Toronto FC: LLDWD

An incredibly disappointing start to the season, which included just two goals scored in their first five matches, has placed Toronto in a position where every point counts. Toronto has begun to turn back to their usual ways in their last three matches however, including a 2-0 win against Philadelphia and a 4-4 draw against DC United.  

Previous Meeting

The last time these clubs met was just under a year ago in Toronto, which ended in a thrashing of NYCFC 4-0. Instead of recapping that contest, I will look to just eleven days prior, where NYCFC and Toronto drew 2-2 in the Bronx. Toronto opened the scoring in the eleventh minute, and Sean Johnson stood on his head for the remainder of the first half, allowing David Villa to score an outside of the foot equalizer from just outside the eighteen yard box just before halftime. Maxi Moralez scored in the 55’ after beautiful service from David Villa, giving NYCFC the 2-1 lead. Heartbreak ensued for your boys in blue, however, when RJ Allen gave away a penalty in extra time, which was slotted away by Victor Vazquez, ending the match 2-2.

Game Highlights and Recap

Standings

Player Spotlight

NYCFC: Alex Ring

Whether lining up as a sweeper in the back, a defensive rock in the midfield, or a box to box, fans have come to expect nothing less than amazing performances week in and week out from Alexander Ring. The Finnish midfielder knows how to deal with a coaching change, after seeing five coaches in a five year span while playing in Germany. His presence on and off the pitch will be instrumental in not only organization for the boys in blue, but motivation as well. Last Week, Ring was excellent, putting together a performance that deserved Man of the Match Honors.

Toronto FC: Sebastian Giovinco

Who else could the spotlight be on? Sebastian Giovinco has scored 7 goals in 5 matches at Yankee Stadium, including a playoff hat-trick in 2016. Although having a down year thus far, Giovinco still ranks fifth in MLS with 10.59 xG+xA this season, sitting just above David Villa. Fourth in the league in shots on target, Seba is a great candidate to raise his goal tally from only three and propel TFC back to the playoffs.

Player Stats

NYCFC:

Goals: David Villa (8), Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (7), Maxi Moralez (6)

Assists: Maxi Moralez (6), Jesus Medina (5), , David Villa (4)

Home Goals: David Villa (5)

Toronto FC:

Goals: Jonathan Osorio (5), Victor Vazquez (4), Sebastian Giovinco (3)

Assists: Sebastian Giovinco (7), Victor Vazquez (6), Jonathan Osorio and Michael Bradley (2)

Away Goals: Sebastian Giovinco (2)

 

Follow Nick Fiorino on Twitter at @stretch_fio and The Third Rail at @ThirdRailSC. Interested in learning more about the Third Rail? Visit our website at thirdrail.nyc for merchandise, weekly game previews and more. Interested in joining? Click here.

Watch NYCFC v Toronto on YES Network at 5:00  ET or Listen on WNYE 91.5 FM

Official Statement on the Departure of Patrick Vieira

The Third Rail would like to wish Patrick Vieira the best of luck in his new position at Nice. While we are disappointed to see him leave mid-season, Patrick’s impact over the past two and a half years has been undeniable. During his tenure, Patrick immediately improved on NYCFC’s first year performances, presiding over two winning seasons, and bringing our club to its first playoff appearances. Patrick leaves behind a team competing at the top of the league with mid-season hopes of making a deep playoff run. Patrick will always have a home here in New York City.

Looking forward, we expect NYCFC to be ambitious with the selection of our next manager. NYCFC supporters deserve a manager who builds on Patrick’s work, takes our club to new heights, and aspires to deliver NYCFC its first trophies. We look forward to welcoming the new manager in the coming days and expect the strong start to the season to continue into summer.

Game Preview: NYCFC v. Atlanta United (6/09)

By Nick Fiorino (@stretch_fio)

On Saturday, June 9th NYCFC will host Atlanta United to fight for first place in the Eastern Conference and the Supporters’ Shield race. City’s most important game of the season will also potentially be Patrick Vieira’s last, with multiple sources reporting he will be headed to OGC Nice after the weekend. Coming off a second 4-0 loss to our cross-state rivals in the Cup, and news that midfielder Yangel Herrera will miss the rest of the season due to an ankle injury, NYCFC will be forced to turn the tide. Fortunately, there is no better place to do just that than in the Bronx, where City is 6-0-0 on the season, outscoring opponents 18 to 2.

Lineup Prediction

While there is a chance that NYCFC line up in a 3-5-2, most fans will be rooting for the mainstay 4-3-3 before the team sheet is released on Saturday. The proof lies in City’s last game in the Bronx, last week against Orlando. Although taking a 1-0 lead to the locker room at halftime, the boys in blue were outplayed in the first half rather thoroughly. The second half began with a substitution of Ben Sweat, reverting to our usual back four, and city never took their foot off the gas, cruising to a 3-0 victory.

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While I would not personally choose Jo Inge Berget to start, I believe that Patrick Vieira will, as he has countless times this season. David Villa, Maxi Moralez, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Alex Ring, and Anton Tinnerholm should all start after being rested on Wednesday. The absence of Yangel Herrera should allow Ebenezer Ofori to start, with the real lineup decisions coming at the back. With Maxime Chanot now healthy and with 90’ under his belt on Wednesday, I believe that NYCFC will give him the start again on Saturday, alongside defensive partner Alexander Callens, slotting Ben Sweat at fullback. Do not be surprised, however, to see both Centre Backs and Sebastien Ibeagha get the start, allowing freedom for Anton Tinnerholm to get forward on the right.

Recent Form

NYCFC: LDWLW

In league play, NYCFC’s form has been erratic due to formation changes in recent weeks. Coming off a 3-0 victory at home against Orlando, however, City look to finally get a win against a formidable Eastern Conference opponent.

Atlanta: LWLDW

Defeating a 9-man Philadelphia Union side 3-1 in their last league match, Atlanta United and the big three of Josef Martinez, Miguel Almirón, and Ezequiel Barco look to prove themselves and justify their sky-high reputation across MLS.

Previous Meeting

Earlier this season on April 15th, NYCFC and Atlanta United drew 2-2 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in front of a sell-out crowd of 45,000+ fans. The hype around the game was justified, with both teams playing positive football and moving as a unit up and down the pitch. Greg Garza opened the scoring on a rebounded shot off Sean Johnson, but NYCFC responded with a David Villa penalty, won by Jo Inge Berget. A header from Chris McCann broke the deadlock in minute 56’, before Alex Ring scored the goal of the season for NYCFC thus far with a strike from about 25 yards out. The match ended with a rightful score line of 2-2.

Game Highlights

Standings

Atlanta United and NYCFC sit first and second place in the Eastern Conference respectively. Both sides look to be the first club in Major League Soccer in 2018 to reach 30 points, and NYCFC will attempt to continue their perfect form at home thus far through six contests.

Player Spotlight

NYCFC: Ismael Tajouri-Shradi

With seven goals on only eight shots on target, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi has been the most efficient player in MLS this season. His production is all the more impressive because he has only played 554 minutes this season, almost 300 less than teammate Jo Inge Berget. For the last two seasons, NYCFC supporters have been looking for a forward to consistently score alongside David Villa, and it seems as though we may have finally found him in the 24-year-old Winger.

Atlanta United: Miguel Almirón

While Josef Martinez has been receiving the majority of the spotlight this season, Miguel Almirón has been the team MVP of Atlanta United. First in the league in shots with 72 and second in shots on goal with 24, Almirón makes Atlanta the attacking powerhouse neutrals love to watch. Taking a look at Advanced Statistics, Almirón is first in Major League Soccer with 15.37 expected goals plus assists. Atlanta United run on Miguel Almirón, and stopping him will be priority number one in Patrick Vieira’s game plan.

Player Stats

NYCFC:

Goals: David Villa (8), Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (7), Maxi Moralez (6)

Assists: Jesus Medina (5), Maxi Moralez (5), David Villa (3)

Home Goals: David Villa (5)

Atlanta United:

Goals: Josef Martínez (12), Miguel Almirón (6), Ezequiel Barco (3)

Assists: Miguel Almirón (6), Julian Gressel (4), Greg Garza and Darlington Nagbe (3)

Away Goals: Josef Martinez (4)

 

Follow Nick Fiorino on Twitter at @stretch_fio and The Third Rail at @ThirdRailSC. Interested in learning more about the Third Rail? Visit our website at thirdrail.nyc for merchandise, weekly game previews and more. Interested in joining? Click here.

Watch NYCFC v Atlanta on YES Network at 12:30 ET or Listen on WNYE 91.5 FM

Game Preview: NYCFC v. Red Bulls (US Open Cup)

By Nick Fiorino (@stretch_fio)

NYCFC and the Red Bulls will face off for the twelfth time in only three years on Wednesday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, this time in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Our Boys in Blue have traditionally struggled at Red Bull Arena and in Cup competition, but the atmosphere will certainly be a main focus for both fan bases, with last year’s Open Cup match drawing only 11,000 fans to the stadium. Both managers will be hard-pressed to fight for the win, while also resting key starters for important matches on the weekend.

Lineup Prediction

NYCFC prepares for an Eastern Conference showdown against Atlanta United on Saturday, so lineup selections for Patrick Vieira will be very difficult. The Cup’s limit on five international players will also be tough to work though for Vieira, setting up a potentially interesting lineup from City.

Lineup 6-6.png

I predict that NYCFC will return to the 4-3-3 and rest some starters, while allowing others to fight for their place on the weekly team sheet. Maxime Chanot, who does not count as an international player due to his green card, should get a run out to prepare for Saturday’s contest after his injury absence. Saad Abdul-Salaam will almost certainly pick up the start at fullback allowing rest for Anton Tinnerholm.

I also predict and hope that Alexander Ring, who has been asked to play the “sweeper” role of the 3-5-2 in recent weeks, gets a night off, allowing Tommy McNamara to fight his way back into the lineup and Ebenezer Ofori to keep his form.

This match is the perfect opportunity for Jonathan Lewis, who impressed in his limited time off the bench last weekend, to showcase his skills. Lastly, due to a recent drop in form, I predict that Jesus Medina will start on Wednesday, allowing Ismael Tajouri-Shradi to play a full 90’ on Saturday in NYCFC’s most important contest of the season. Do not be surprised, however, to see Brad Stuver or Cedric Hountondji pick up their first minutes of the season, or Academy products and Homegrown players James Sands and Joe Scally get involved on Wednesday night.

Recent Form

Red Bulls: WWWDL

After a 4 game winning streak, including a victory over NYCFC, the Red Bulls have dropped points in two straight matches.  

NYCFC: LDWLW

2-1-2 in their last five games in the league, NYCFC will look to win its first ever Open Cup match.

Player Spotlight

Red Bulls: Ryan Meara, GK

Former NYCFC Goalkeeper Ryan Meara will mostly likely start on Wednesday. Meara started all five matches in the cup last year, including the 1-0 victory over NYCFC. Allowing only 5 goals all competition with two clean sheets, Meara led the Red Bulls to the Cup Final, where they lost to Sporting Kansas City by a score line of 2-1.

NYCFC: Jonathan Lewis, F

Jonathan Lewis looked electric off the bench against Orlando on Saturday, and the mid-week contest is perfect timing for the 21-year-old Akron product to prove his talent. Trapped at the bottom of the depth chart behind Jo Inge Berget, Jesus Medina, and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Lewis played his first minutes of the season on Saturday. In only 12 minutes, Lewis beat two separate defenders in one-on-one scenarios, and began the build-up to City’s third and final goal, scoring a 109 on the Audi Player Index for the match. Another solid performance from the former third overall pick of the SuperDraft may force Patrick Vieira’s hand in future matches.

Player Stats

Red Bulls:

Goals: Bradley Wright-Phillips (9), Four Players (3)

Assists: Alejandro Romero Gamarra (9), Bradley Wright-Phillips (5)

Home Goals: Bradley Wright-Phillips (6)

NYCFC:

Goals: David Villa (8), Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (7), Maxi Moralez (6)

Assists: Jesus Medina (5), Maxi Moralez (5), David Villa and Yangel Herrera (3)

Away Goals: David Villa and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (3)

 

Follow Nick Fiorino on Twitter at @stretch_fio and The Third Rail at @ThirdRailSC. Interested in learning more about the Third Rail? Visit our website at thirdrail.nyc for merchandise, weekly game previews and more. Interested in joining? Click here

Game Preview: NYCFC v. Houston (5/25)

By Nick Fiorino (@stretch_fio)

On Friday, May 25th our boys in blue will look to build upon their 4-0 win against the Colorado Rapids when they travel to BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas to face the Houston Dynamo. NYCFC will attempt to place rumors of Head Coach Patrick Vieira’s departure aside and take back the 1st place position in the Eastern Conference.

Lineup Prediction

Lineup 5-25.png

 

Away from home, I expect NYCFC to line up in their usual 4-3-3 and depart from last week’s 3-5-2. Maxime Chanot is healthy and should be ready to lead the backline. Probably surprising to some, I expect Vieira to give Ben Sweat a start at left back and supplant MLS Team of the Week starter Ronald Matarrita. Left back will be an incredibly important position for NYC this week, with the starter being tasked with defending Alberth Elis, who will be discussed later in Houston’s Player Spotlight. Sweat will give City a soundness at the back that Matarrita’s attacking yet sometimes reckless style does not provide, especially on the road.

I believe Jesus Medina will reclaim his starting position on the right, with red-hot newcomer Ismael Tajouri-Shradi starting opposite on the left in NYC’s most dynamic attack of the season. The usual midfield of Maxi Moralez, Yangel Herrera, and Alex Ring should stay intact, although Herrera’s recent form has led to some fans asking serious questions of the hard-nosed 20 year-old defensive midfielder. Do not be surprised to see Ofori grab a spot start in the midfield, or for Vieira to opt to keep forward Jo Inge Berget in the attack, after arguably his best start of the season last week.

Recent Form

Houston: WLWDW

Unbeaten in their last three, the Houston Dynamo will attempt to continue their winning ways after a 3-2 victory away from home last week against the Chicago Fire.

NYCFC: LWLDW

Responding well to the 4-0 away loss to the Red Bulls, NYCFC are unbeaten in their last two. Playing the toughest schedule in the league so far, New York look to get back to their usual winning ways.

Previous Meeting

On September 23rd of last year, NYCFC and Houston drew 1-1 in their only meeting of the season. Fans will remember this game for a few reasons, first and foremost being that it was played at Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, Connecticut after a scheduling conflict at Yankee Stadium.

Maxi Moralez opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a rare header, supplied from a Jack Harrison cross. Houston responded in the sixteenth minute scoring the only other goal of the contest on a quickly taken free kick, catching New York City sleeping at the back. Interestingly, Allen Chapman was the Head Referee for the contest last September, and will officiate Friday as well.

New York City are unbeaten in three games against the Dynamo.

All-time Series: 1-0-2

Standings

New York City FC currently sit second in the loaded Eastern Conference, trailing Atlanta United by a lone point. Houston lies in sixth place in the West, but look to make back ground with only ten games played so far this season.    

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west.jpg

Player Spotlights

Yangel Herrera

The 20 year old Venezuelan international has had a solid career with the Boys in Blue, becoming a staple on the weekly team sheet. His recent form, however, has disappointed. He was thoroughly outmatched in the Hudson River Derby by Tyler Adams, and did not respond well either against LAFC, leading to a rather open midfield throughout the entire match. It is certainly not yet time to move on, but with Ebenezer Ofori as a second option, Herrera may begin to see less playing time unless he produces a good showing on the pitch. Looking at advanced statistics, Herrera has the third most shots of any player in MLS without scoring with 21. On these twenty-one shots, Herrera has a lowly 1.42 expected goals (xG).

Alberth Elis

Facing a Western Conference opponent, City fans may not be familiar with Houston’s danger man, but he is a force to be reckoned with. 22 year-old Alberth Elis scored two goals against the Chicago Fire last week, and is having an amazing season thus far. His performance earned him MLS Team of the Week honors as a forward, alongside Bradley Wright-Phillips and David Villa. The Honduran International leads MLS in shots on goal with 22, and is fourth in total shots with 42. The pacey winger is fourth in the league in expected goals, in the company of Josef Martinez, Gyasi Zardes, and Miguel Almiron. His expected goals plus assists ratio is only second in the league behind Almiron, making Elis a serious force to be reckoned with. Elis will line up on the right, creating an interesting matchup for whoever City selects to start at left back.

Team Stats

New York City FC:

Goals: David Villa (7), Maxi Moralez (5), Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (5)

Assists: Jesus Medina (5), Maxi Moralez (4), David Villa and Yangel Herrera (3)

Road Goals: Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (3)

Houston Dynamo:

Goals: Alberth Elis (6), Mauro Manotas (5), Romell Quioto (3)

Assists: Alberth Elis (5), Romell Quioto and Tomas Martinez (4), Boniek Garcia (3)

Home Goals: Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto, and Mauro Manotas (2)

 

NYCFC vs Houston Dynamo will be broadcast at 8:55 ET, available on UniMás and the Univision NOW app. The Third Rail will also be hosting a 5th Anniversary watch party at St. Pat's Bar and Grill, RSVP here.

Follow Nick Fiorino on Twitter at @stretch_fio and The Third Rail at @ThirdRailSC

The Third Rail Renews Its Partnership With Bronx Brewery

NEW YORK CITY – The Third Rail has renewed its partnership with Bronx Brewery for a second straight season. The partnership includes discounts on beer and merchandise at the brewery, beer for all away tailgates and brewery parties before select home matches this season (dates TBD).

The Third Rail prides itself on partnering with local businesses, not only to provide value to its membership, but to make a deeper impact within the New York City community through the relationships the organization builds.

Andy Drelick, President of The Third Rail, said:

“Bronx Brewery doesn’t just make great beer for thirsty soccer supporters, they also do incredible work supporting our team’s home, The Bronx. We’re proud and excited to continue working with this wonderful group of people.”

Patrick Libonate, VP of Marketing at Bronx Brewery, said:

"The Bronx Brewery is proud to once again partner up with Third Rail, the most passionate NYCFC supporters club, for another season of soccer in The Bronx.  We look forward to cheering on the Blues together with them at the brewery, in the stadium, and at the tailgates.  Cheers!"

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The Third Rail is the first recognized independent Supporters Group for New York City FC. The volunteer-run organization consists of fans from all over the city (and the world) who come together to have fun, play soccer, raise money for good causes, and support the first Major League Soccer club to play in New York City.

In 2011, Bronx Brewery set out to revive the great tradition of brewing beer in the Bronx. Pint by pint, fans fell in love with the beer across the city, and the company has quickly expanded into a destination for locals, providing a brewery and tasting room experience in the South Bronx, inclusive of some of the best food and music from the area.

New Mobile Wallpapers for 2018

Our trusty designer extraordinaire dropped these slick wallpapers today! Grab yours below and dress your phone up with supreme style. 

2017 Recap

2017 is coming to a close and it's time to reflect on some of the many accomplishments this year. We are extremely proud of the strides we've made and excited for the future. With continued involvement and effort from members, we will reach even greater heights so that we may have a greater impact on our community. Thank you to everyone who has invested their time and energy into the #TRibe! 

  •  Debuted new drums ‘Thunder’ a 36” vintage '70s Slingerland bass drum and a 14" high tension marching snare
  •  Competed in the 2016 Pepito Cup hosted by Guiseppe Rossi. Posted 2nd best record in the tournament
  •  Hosted East Village Bar Crawl
  •  Coordinated NY Rangers match group outing
  •  Coordinated Manchester City trip which included Spurs match, stadium and academy tour, supporters group mini tournament at the academy and City Square Live interview
  •  Marched in Chinese New Year Parade
  •  Coordinated food drive for Food Bank for New York City and collected 100 lbs of food
  •  Kicked off the new season with a new partner bar, St. Pats. Hosted over 300 people at season opener watch party
  •  Supported Dallas Beer Guardians’ Day of Giving Back in Denton, TX
  •  Distributed a new premium giveaway for membership: Patrick Vieira bobblehead
  •  New TR signage and a membership table at Yankee Stadium
  •  Coordinated a member tour of ESPN HQ
  •  Hosted a #Railgate at The Bronx Brewery. Over 100 members attended
  •  Marched in the NYC Pride Parade
  • Competed in Street Soccer USA Times Square Cup
  •  Established a new partnership with the Bronx Brewery with free beer at a number of tailgates and events
  •  Debuted our new Mitchell & Ness, NYCFC, TR collection with a fabulous launch party at Upper90 Astoria
  •  Sent 2 lucky members to the Colorado Rapids away match in Denver courtesy of St. Pat’s
  •  Extended the Electric City product range
  •  Coordinated 2 open practice dates at the team facility in SUNY Purchase attended by 100 TR members
  •  Hosted full tailgates at RBA, East Hartford and New England courtesy of TRCT and TRNJ
  •  Hosted full tailgate at CitiField
  •  Exclusive time at NYCFC House with FIFA 17 Tournament and merch discount
  •  Donated over $1,000 to Tickets for Troops. Gave away 40 match tickets and TR Veteran’s Appreciation scarves
  •  Donated over $4,000 to South Bronx United via their Charity Cup and Annual Benefit
  •  Donated $250 to Texian Army (Houston Dynamo supporters) for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts
  • Hosted End of Season party at Barleycorn NYC with Jolty Awards
  •  Grew social media following to Twitter: 12.1K, Instagram: 16.1K
  •  Number of members: 1040

South Bronx United Annual Benefit

"South Bronx United, Inc. is a nonprofit youth development organization, founded in 2009, that serves more than nearly 1,000 boys and girls each year through programs on the soccer field, in the classroom, and in the community.  South Bronx United (SBU) combines academic enrichment, college prep, mentoring, leadership development, health and wellness programs,  immigrant legal services, and other family and youth supports with recreational and travel soccer.  SBU participants range from ages 4 to 20 years old and primarily come from low-income, immigrant families.  The SBU Academy, the organization's highest-touch program, aims to provide a path from middle school to high school to college and careers.  Within the past five years, 100 percent of SBU Academy seniors have graduated high school and 94 percent have enrolled in college."

The Third Rail understands the value of support. That is why we are honored to be bronze level sponsors of the youth advocacy programs of South Bronx United through their annual benefit. This years benefit will honor NYCFC President Jon Patricof and will be held on November 16th in Manhattan. Anyone interested to attend can find additional information and tickets here: http://www.sbusupporters.org/benefit.

Photos: #Railgate at Red Bull Away Match

Photos by Kevin Cifuentes

The Third Rail and its New Jersey chapter hosted another awesome #Railgate at Red Bull Arena. Despite the Friday 3 pm start time, the turnout was fantastic! We wonder what excuses everyone used to get out of work early? Check out some of the photos from the day below. 

We thank our wonderful partners at The Bronx Brewery and Monster Energy for their continued support. #TRibe

Video: "They Think We're Scum."

Copa 90 dropped by earlier this year to get some feedback on rivalries in MLS and, of course, NYCFC vs Red Bull had to be included. In addition to NYC, they hit Vancouver, Seattle and Portland. Check out this video to see what they learned.

Does football exist in America? Here's a look at how MLS rivalries are growing, with the New York and Cascadia derbies providing bigger scenes every year. Subscribe to COPA90: http://bit.ly/Copa90Subscribe Check out COPA90 US for the North American voice on the global game: https://www.youtube.com/user/kick Check out our new website: http://bit.ly/Copa90 About COPA90: At COPA90 we believe that football is the universal language.

Tifo - A Process

On August 6th we will display our latest tifo. It's a 2 panel project with each piece measuring 40' x 50'. Here are some quick notes about the process:

- 16 people worked on the tifo.
- Over 15 hours were invested from start to finish.
- Approximately 20 gallons of paint were used. 
- 6 pizzas were consumed. 
- 1 incredible memory was made.
- The tifo will be displayed for up to 45 seconds. 

Tifo is one of the experiences that help define supporter culture and we are proud of and thankful for the people who volunteered the time and energy to help this process along. Check out some photos from the day below to take a behind the scenes look at how it's done. If you want to get involved in tifo in the future, please shoot us an e-mail at membership@thirdrail.nyc.