Sunday, March 17th
On Sunday, March 17th, NYCFC host LAFC after two disappointing draws to start the season. City’s depth has been evident thus far, with a multitude of capable wingers fighting for starting spots and James Sands seamlessly entering the XI. Sadly, even more evident has been the lack of a true centre forward on the roster. Although the Rumor Mill is hot, City will have to learn to play without a true striker for the time being. Changes must be made in order to keep pace with the high powered attack of LAFC, featuring Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, Christian Ramirez, and Adama Diomande.
Jesus Medina and Taty both played quite poorly last weekend. Facing the attacking firepower that LAFC brings to every match, I expect City to change their shape on Sunday, and return to the 4-3-3 of old.
Earlier in the week, I was certain that Ismael Tajouri-Shradi would finally get his first start of the season on Sunday. After criticism from his manager and a Questionable tag ahead of the match, this is now unlikely. With that in mind, I expect City to play Maxi through the middle as a false 9, providing service to Alexandru Mitriță on the left and Jonathan Lewis on the right. City will need to create chances on Sunday, and Lewis seems to always find himself in front of the net. Although his end product last weekend was not good enough, I expect Domè to give Jonathan Lewis another run-out.
Domè was happy with the team’s performance for most of last week’s match, but preached the importance of possessing the ball. I believe to win possession on Sunday, another midfielder will be necessary. I expect Keaton Parks to start in a more advanced midfield role alongside Alex Ring, with James Sands spending most of his time between Callens and Chanot. Parks’ ability to pass in the final third might be exactly what City needs to refine their end product, and his size will give NYCFC an aerial option on set pieces that they didn’t have against DC.
I expect the backline to be unchanged after a solid performance at home last week.
In their only meeting to date, NYCFC and LAFC played to a 2-2 draw at Banc of California Stadium. The game started very well for City, with a VAR Handball leading to a penalty kick, headed in by David Villa off a rebound. LAFC would tie the match at 1-1 soon after, with Sebastien Ibeagha unluckily redirecting a corner into his own net. The game would stay tied at ones until the 66’. Carlos Vela was the first to a loose ball, and scored on his right foot to the glee of the home supporters. City responded quickly though, with an awkward cross from Anton Tinnerholm leading to an amazing finish from Ismael Tajouri-Shradi on the near post. Jesus Medina and Jo Inge Berget both missed clear cut chances which could have won the match for NYCFC, but the back and forth contest finished with both sides taking a point.
LAFC Player Spotlight: Carlos Vela
Carlos Vela has been the best player on the pitch in his first two games of the season. WhoScored’s Man of the Match in LAFC’s 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City, and tallying a goal and two assists in a 4-1 victory against the Timbers, Vela has been a revelation since he arrived in MLS. To scare City fans even more, of Vela’s fourteen goals last season, ten came away from home. Just as he has in 2019, Vela started 2018 hot as well, leading LAFC to the best first ten games for an expansion side in MLS history. The current MLS Player of the Week will be a serious problem for City on Sunday.
New York City FC:
Goals: Alex Ring and Ebenezer Ofori (1)
Assists: Jonathan Lewis and Alexandru Mitriță (1)
Los Angeles Football Club:
Goals: Adama Diomande (2)
Assists: Carlos Vela (2)
Watch NYCFC v LAFC at 3:00 ET on Fox Sports 1 and the FoxSportsGo app
Listen on WNYE 91.5 FM