On Saturday, August 18th, NYCFC travel to Philadelphia to face the fifth place Union. With the Red Bulls coming to the Bronx on Wednesday and the final stretch of the season in sight, three points are necessary to keep pace in the Eastern Conference and the Supporters’ Shield race.
NYCFC’s injury woes continue, with newcomer Valentin “Taty” Castellanos out with a quad injury on Saturday. On the bright side, Sean Johnson is likely to return in goal after missing the last two matches. With the last regular season Hudson River Derby match of 2018 on deck at Yankee Stadium, the boys in blue will look to impress and fight for a place in the team on Wednesday. I believe that Jesus Medina, David Villa, and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi will start up front, but Domè may give Rodney Wallace, Jo Inge Berget, or Jonathan Lewis, who did not even make the 18 last week, the spot start. I expect the midfield to remain unchanged. Ben Sweat should get the nod after a rather pedestrian performance from Ronald Matarrita last weekend. Lastly, Sebastien Ibeagha has started the last two away from home for City, and I believe that he starts again in Philly.
Following a disappointing draw at home to a rather weak Vancouver side, NYCFC responded in Toronto with all three points against the reigning MLS Cup Champions.
Although the Union’s season has had it ups and downs, they lie in fifth place in the Standings. Winning three of their last five games, all on the road, the Union look to be heading in the right direction at the tail end of the season.
On June 2nd of last year, NYCFC defeated the Philadelphia Union by a score of 2-1. The first half was full of City chances, with Andre Blake making tremendous saves throughout the 45’. The score remained 0-0 until Fafa Picault scored for the Union off the counter, giving Philadelphia a 1-0 lead. Many will remember this match for the unlikely NYCFC goal scorers late in the match, with Maxime Chanot scoring a rare header from a corner for City in the 80’. Then in the 84’, Alexander Callens scored after a scramble in front of net, giving NYCFC the 2-1 lead, which they held onto.
All-time Series: 4-2-1
NYCFC: Ismael Tajouri-Shradi
Quite possibly the Newcomer of the Year, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi has been nothing short of incredible for City this season. NYCFC’s one constant critique since day one has focused on a secondary goalscorer to David Villa, and Tajouri-Shradi has certainly accomplished this. His goal scoring efficiency is unrivaled in MLS, showcased by his 10 goals on only 15 shots on target. He also ranks first in the league in goals minus expected goals. Tajouri-Shradi is not only a key to this match, or the rest of this season, but to the future of NYCFC’s attack.
Philadelphia: CJ Sapong
CJ Sapong is having an interesting season to say the least. A proven goalscorer at the MLS level, his three goals and one assist in 22 games played are shocking statistics. Sapong has the lowest goals minus expected goals in MLS, which usually means that a player is due a goal sooner rather than later. Sapong’s eleven expected goals plus assists places him in elite company, and Saturday may be the day that Sapong breaks out in 2018.
Goals: Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (10), David Villa (9), Maxi Moralez (8)
Assists: Maxi Moralez (12), Jesus Medina (7), David Villa and Anton Tinnerholm (4)
Away Goals: Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (6)
Goals: Borek Dockal, Fafa Picault, and Corey Burke (5)
Assists: Borek Dockal (10), Alejandro Bedoya (4), Fafa Picault (3)
Home Goals: Borek Dockal (5)
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Watch NYCFC v Philadelphia on YES Network at 7:00 ET or Listen on WNYE 91.5 FM