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.
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.
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.
Red Bulls: WWWDL
After a 4 game winning streak, including a victory over NYCFC, the Red Bulls have dropped points in two straight matches.
2-1-2 in their last five games in the league, NYCFC will look to win its first ever Open Cup match.
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.
Goals: Bradley Wright-Phillips (9), Four Players (3)
Assists: Alejandro Romero Gamarra (9), Bradley Wright-Phillips (5)
Home Goals: Bradley Wright-Phillips (6)
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.