On Sunday, July 28th NYCFC travel cross-country to face the Seattle Sounders. After earning the victory Thursday night in Orlando, City will look to earn six of a possible six points on their two game road trip and finally improve upon their rather pedestrian away form on the season. Although beating the Lions rather easily, Domè was not happy with the performance. Without David Villa due to injury and Alexander Ring due to yellow card accumulation, City’s depth will be tested against a Sounders squad that is undefeated in their last five matches.
Although David Villa has not made the trip to Seattle, the rest of the attack seems to be at full strength after substitute appearances from Jo Inge Berget and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi. I believe that both will start on Sunday, alongside Ronald Matarrita and Maxi Moralez in the attack, sending Rodney Wallace to the bench. With Ring out of the lineup, Domè implied that Kwame Awuah would get the start, and I believe that he should as well, alongside Ebenezer Ofori following his most impressive match for the club thus far. Lastly, I believe that Sebastien Ibeagha will get a spot start, but do not be surprised to see the backline unchanged after four straight clean sheets.
In the midst of their longest win streak of the season, NYCFC seem to be hitting their peak form. Missing some key starters, City have been leaning on Maxi Moralez in the attack, Alexander Callens and Sean Johnson in the back, and super-sub Jonathan Lewis, and all will be essential to keep the streak alive on Sunday.
Although still tenth in the Western Conference, the Sounders are certainly trending in the right direction. Currently unbeaten in five with three wins and conceding only two goals along the way, the Sounders finally have a winning formula. With new Designated Player Raul Ruidiaz set to make his second start, and Roman Torres set to return to the defense, Seattle believe they can earn the three points at CenturyLink regardless of their opponent.
On June 17th of last season, City hosted the Sounders in a match many will remember as the “rain game”. The first half was characterized by sloppy build up play and an almost unplayable surface due to the weather. Cristian Roldan opened the scoring in the 40’, stunning City supporters. Just before half, David Villa smashed the crossbar on what would have been a goal of the season, but NYCFC went to the break trailing 1-0. David Villa won and buried a penalty five minutes into the second half, and City never looked back. With only fifteen minutes left, Jack Harrison sent in a great cross, which David Villa scored first-time on a beautiful finish, ending the match 2-1 in the favor of the boys in blue.
All-time Series: 2-1-0
NYCFC: Ebenezer Ofori
Since his move from Stuttgart, Ebenezer Ofori has steadily improved for NYCFC. On Thursday, Ofori dominated the Orlando midfield and was great on both sides of the ball. Without Alexander Ring on Sunday, Ofori may be asked to take command of Ring’s all-important defensive midfield duties, an incredibly difficult task. Ofori’s performance will be essential if City are to earn all three points.
Seattle: Raul Ruidiaz
With no player with more than five goals scored, yet twelve different goal scorers on the season, Seattle has gone with a team attacking approach. Designated Player Raul Ruidiaz hopes to change that in his second start for the club on Sunday. The “Peruvian Messi” is a proven scorer, putting in great performances for the national team, Primera Division in Chile, and Liga MX. Scoring in his first match for Seattle on Wednesday, Ruidiaz was dangerous all night, and he is certainly the focus for NYCFC on Sunday.
Goals: David Villa (8), Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (8), Maxi Moralez (8)
Assists: Maxi Moralez (11), Jesus Medina (7), David Villa (4)
Away Goals: Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (4)
Goals: Will Bruin (5), Nicolas Lodeiro (4), 10 Players (1)
Assists: Nicolas Lodeiro (5), Cristian Roldan (5), Will Bruin (4)
Home Goals: Nicolas Lodeiro (3)
NYCFC have made two new signings in the last five days, both who are sure to see time on the pitch down the key final stretch of the season. First on July 25th, NYCFC announced the transfer of 33 year-old Spanish midfielder Eloi Amagat. Familiar with him from his time at Girona FC in Spain, Domè has spoken highly of Amagat. Although a likely replacement for Yangel Herrera, the players could not be more different. Amagat will fight for playing time with Ebenezer Ofori and likely be a creative attacking presence to the usual defensive two that City have employed this season.
Secondly on July 27th, NYCFC announced the loan of Valentin Castellanos, a 19 year-old Argentinian from City Football Group owned Torque in Uruguay’s Primera Division. Winning Young Player of the Month for the league in June, Castellanos is a right-footed winger who prefers to play on the left. Adding Castellanos into the young core attack alongside Jesus Medina and Jonathan Lewis, City’s depth is now rivaled by its youth as well. Expect Castellanos to be initially used as Lewis is used; a super-sub with serious pace and one vs one ability.
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Watch NYCFC v Seattle on ESPN at 5:00 ET or Listen on WNYE 91.5 FM