NYCFC

NYCFC's Early Season Woes: Onto Minnesota

Nick Fiorino (@stretch_fio)

On Saturday, NYCFC travel to Minnesota looking to break their early season slump. Fans knew this season would be different without David Villa, but the front office seemingly did not. City were without a true centre forward for weeks, with Mitriță and Taty sharing time in the middle. While the boys in blue continue their objectively frustrating start to the year, City supporters continue to clamor for changes at the top.

Domè has been a disappointing hire for many. We all know the numbers: 4 wins in their last 21 matches, no goals in their last 200+ minutes, and an overall abysmal effort to penetrate into the final third. Last season under Patrick Vieira, City were undefeated at home, winning six of seven, outscoring opponents 19 to 3. Under Torrent, the fortress that was Yankee Stadium has turned into a sand castle.

Fans will remember the first month of Domè’s tenure. A mystical week of three home victories, three clean sheets, a victory over our cross-state rivals, and quite possibly Jonathan Lewis’ best week of his young career.

A pretty pineapple indeed.

Fans will also remember Domè’s estimation that he would need at least a month, and a transfer window to implement his preferred style. He turned to the club’s youth, something Vieira never did, and was rewarded early. This first group of matches as manager would prove to be the last remnants of the Patrick Vieira era in the Bronx. Torrent soon added Eloi Amagat and Valentin Castellanos to the team, and promised supporters something new on the pitch. City then went four in a row without a win at home. They finished the season losing five of six away from Yankee Stadium, eventually hobbling into the playoffs where they were soon eliminated, marking another year of what could have been.

So, if NYCFC lose this weekend and management does decide to sack Domè, what really would change? We would certainly see more of Keaton Parks in the sky blue; It would be hard to fathom a situation where he could play any less. We would see less of ‘Taty’, a Domè favorite, but that is likely to happen anyway with the arrival of Héber. A new manager would change our style of play? Certainly not drastically: the starting lineup would likely remain the same, and this team is built to play a certain way, whether we like it or not. All of this without asking, who replaces Torrent?

Other notable clubs have started the season poorly too. The Red Bulls and Atlanta United have both faced challenges to start the season in the East, and the Timbers have earned one point from five matches, holding a -10 goal differential in the West.

We are 5 games into a 34 game season. While Domè has been incredibly disappointing, City have a very strong roster, and it’s still very early. Here are the facts: At his best, Alexander Ring is as good a midfielder as there is in MLS, and he looks like a true offensive threat in year three. James Sands has exceeded all expectations. Minus the embarrassment in Toronto, the backline has looked steady. On their good days, Anton Tinnerholm and Ronald Matarrita are incredibly active on both ends of the pitch. Sean Johnson has been a rock, racking up international caps along the way. Maxi, Héber, Mitriță, and ITS will all eventually take the pitch together, and when they do, this will be a very dangerous team with a very potent attack.

Torrent has not lived up to the hype, but disregarding months of planning after a few bad performances, without a solid replacement, and without a backup plan is the wrong decision. For now.

Onto Saturday, City will face a tough road test, another Stadium opener with frigid weather expected. History stands in their way, and the injury bug is striking at the wrong time. According to Torrent on Wednesday, Mitriță has an injury that may limit his effectiveness for months. Héber is still only ready for 40-45 minutes of gametime, and Maxi is only at “70-75 percent” health. City will also be without Alexander Callens.

NYCFC is in turmoil at the moment, but with other big clubs underperforming around them and only five games into a long season, there is time. While Saturday may produce more of the same from the Pigeons, a roster like this will be poised for an eventual turnaround. The only question is when.

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

Visit our website at thirdrail.nyc for merchandise, weekly game previews and more. Interested in joining? Click here.

Watch NYCFC v Minnesota United at 5:00 ET on ESPN2 and the WatchESPN app

Listen on WNYE 91.5 FM or in Spanish on 1050 AM ESPN Deportes


Game Preview: NYCFC v Montreal Impact

Saturday, April 6th

Nick Fiorino (@stretch_fio)

On Saturday, April 6th NYCFC will look to turn the 2019 campaign around at home against the Montreal Impact, who are without Ignacio Piatti. When their star isn’t in the lineup, the Impact only win 16% of the matches they play. City will also be without their playmaker Maxi Moralez for a second straight match, hopefully leading to a new look XI after a disappointing month of March. Only losing one of their nine total matches against the Impact, City will be confident in front of their home supporters on Saturday afternoon.

Projected Lineup

2019 Lineup 4-6.PNG

Attack:

New signing Heber will almost certainly debut against Montreal; I believe it would be foolish for him not to start. Although Domè alluded to Heber coming off the bench, another week of Taty or Jesus Medina through the middle would almost certainly escalate fans’ negative opinions of the manager. Alexandru Mitriță has locked down the starting position on the left, and Heber’s addition and strong holdup play will likely create more chances for the Romanian on Saturday. As always, the attacker on the right is in question, with Jonathan Lewis, Jesus Medina, and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi all available as capable options. I expect ITS to start, put together a solid performance, and begin to take hold of a weekly starting spot in the new NYCFC attack.

Midfield:

City looked completely lost last week without Maxi in the lineup. To head the midfield and link up play between the defense and the attack, I hope to see Keaton Parks get his first start. Most outspoken NYCFC supporters have been calling on Domè to give Parks a run out for weeks, and if not now, when?

Alex Ring and James Sands will both almost certainly start; The question is, where? Alexander Callens will be out with a hamstring injury, and we may see Sands get his first start in the defense alongside Maxime Chanot, but Domè will likely leave the remainder of his midfield unchanged. I expect Ring to remain in his 2019 box-to-box role with Sands spending most of his time just in front of the back four.

Defense:

Ronald Matarrita deserves another start at left back after some questionable performances from Ben Sweat in recent weeks. Mata is at his best at Yankee Stadium, and his service from the left may have newfound meaning with Heber’s aerial ability. Anton Tinnerholm has not been himself yet this season, but Anton has the potential for game changing performances week in and week out. Ibeagha is on this roster for the absences of Maxime Chanot or Alex Callens, and shouldn’t be a liability for the City defense.

Match Prediction: NYCFC 3- 1 Impact

With Domè’s job security on the line, City should be able to dominate the Impact in the Bronx. If Heber can find his name on the goal sheet, supporters will be forced into at least some optimism for the first time this season.

Player Stats

New York City FC:

Goals: Alex Ring (2), Ebenezer Ofori (1), Alexandru Mitriță (1)

Assists: Five Players (1)

Montreal Impact:

Goals: Saphir Taider (3), Ignacio Piatti (3), Orji Okwonkwo (1)

Assists: Maximiliano Urruti (2), Five Players (1)

MLS Statistics



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

Visit our website at thirdrail.nyc for merchandise, weekly game previews and more. Interested in joining? Click here.

Watch NYCFC v Montreal Impact at 1:00 ET on YES Network and the FoxSportsGo app

Listen on WNYE 91.5 FM



Game Preview: NYCFC v LAFC

Sunday, March 17th

Nick Fiorino (@stretch_fio)

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.

Projected Lineup

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.

2019 Lineup 3-17.PNG

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.

Last Meeting

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.

Match Recap

Highlights

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.

Player Stats

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)

MLS Statistics

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

Visit our website at thirdrail.nyc for merchandise, weekly game previews and more. Interested in joining? Click here.

Watch NYCFC v LAFC at 3:00 ET on Fox Sports 1 and the FoxSportsGo app

Listen on WNYE 91.5 FM



Game Preview: NYCFC v DC United

Sunday, March 10th

Nick Fiorino (@stretch_fio)

On Sunday, March 10th, NYCFC host D.C. United for City’s Home Opener. After a disappointing draw last Saturday, our boys in blue return to the fortress that is Yankee Stadium, where City lost only one match in seventeen played last season.

Lineup Prediction

2019 Lineup 3-10.PNG

Domè is a tinkerer. Especially at Yankee Stadium, City’s skipper will look to change the team’s shape and tactics throughout the match. With that in mind, I expect NYCFC to line up in an ultra-fluid and ultra-attacking 4-1-4-1, merging into a 5-2-3 in defense.

City is at full strength with Ronald Matarrita back from another brief injury, but I expect the backline to be unchanged from Saturday. With that being said, I do believe that Alex Ring will start where James Sands did against Orlando, just in front of the two centerbacks. At Yankee Stadium, however, Callens, Ring, and Chanot will likely form a back three at times, allowing Ben Sweat and Anton Tinnerholm to make overlapping runs in the attack.

Regardless of your opinion on the dimensions of Yankee Stadium, NYCFC are a much better team at home with a box to box midfielder, whose passing in the final third is essential to linking up the defense with the attack. I believe that Keaton Parks is the man for the job, grabbing his first NYCFC start in front of the home supporters.

City’s roster consists of a multitude of attacking options, it’s up to Domè to choose which to start. To make his decision a bit easier, I believe NYCFC will start with four true attacking threats on Sunday: Maxi Moralez, Alexandru Mitriță, Jesus Medina, and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi. I expect Medina and ITS to play tight to the touchlines, forcing the DC defense to make crucial decisions once their high-press breaks down. Mitriță can play through the middle, but the fluid attack will find our new DP on the left for a good portion of the match as well. This season, I envision NYCFC at their best at home, when Mitriță and Maxi are given freedom in their positioning, with the rest of the attack high-pressing their opponents, preventing stars like Wayne Rooney and Lucho Acosta from possession of the ball.

Jonathan Lewis’ role this season is a controversial topic. Regardless, I expect Jonathan Lewis as a late game sub at Yankee Stadium this season, a role he thrived in last season in the Bronx.

Another possibility for City on Sunday is giving Eben Ofori another start after his great goal last weekend in place of Jesus Medina. At times last season, Ofori would begin at the left midfield role at home, dropping deeper into the midfield in defense, perhaps even man-marking one of DC’s many dangermen.

Last Meeting

On October 21st in NYCFC’s second to last match of the season, City fell 3-1 away to a red-hot DC United. DC started the match in style, with Lucho Acosta’s tight dribbling leading to an easy finish for Rooney. Chances were few and far between in the first half for the Blues, and Acosta would soon make it 2-0 on a shot from just outside the box. A penalty slotted away by Rooney killed the match off in the second half, as David Villa’s consolation goal meant nothing for a City team with one win in their last nine.

Match Recap

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

Visit our website at thirdrail.nyc for merchandise, weekly game previews and more. Interested in joining? Click here.

Watch NYCFC v DC United at 3:00 ET on YES Network

Listen on WNYE 91.5 FM



Game Preview: NYCFC @ Orlando City

Saturday, March 2nd

Nick Fiorino (@stretch_fio)

On Saturday, March 2nd, NYCFC open their 2019 campaign for MLS Cup in Orlando. Two very different teams from last season, City will look to start the season strong against their expansion “rivals”

Lineup Prediction


2019+Lineup+3-2.jpg

Defense:

The backline will likely look identical to last season at full health, with Sean Johnson surely between the posts. Ronald Matarrita may crack the eleven in place of Ben Sweat, but I expect Sweat to build off his surprising 2018 with an even stronger 2019. City are likely to return to their trusted centre back pairing of Maxime Chanot and Alex Callens, but Sebastien Ibeagha always has a chance to start ahead of either. Anton Tinnerholm, who arguably looked his best under Domè, has the right back position locked down again this season.

Midfield:

Leading the team with 24 goal contributions in his second full season in the big apple, Maxi Moralez will be leaned on in 2019. A key to NYCFC’s distribution and identity in building from the back, arguably no player is as important to the club for this season. I predict new captain Alex Ring to begin the season in the lone defensive mid role, but I would not be surprised to see a double pivot employed by Domè, giving Ring license to get forward and do more things like this.  

City’s midfield must deal with a tremendous loss in Yangel Herrera, and addressed the problem by adding Keaton Parks on loan from Benfica. Likely spending most of his time between Moralez and Ring, Parks’ passing will be essential to City’s desire for possession of the ball. More of a box-to-box midfielder, he doesn’t seem to have the same defensive talent that hard-nosed Herrera prided himself in, but his passing and movement in the final third should be a joy to watch this season.

Attack:

The loss of David Villa has led to great uncertainty this offseason, and while City have still yet to sign a true Centre Forward, Alexandru Mitriță will certainly help in the goal scoring department. I predict Mitriță will play through the left to open the season, with Ismael Tajouri-Shradi opposite him on the right. ITS wrote his name on the goal sheet eleven times last season, and deserves the run out on Opening Day. Lastly, I predict that Valentin ‘Taty’ Castellanos will start through the middle, although the attack will almost certainly remain dynamic throughout the match, with the front three interchanging positions constantly. Do not be surprised, however, to see Jesus Medina or Jonathan Lewis get the start up front.

*The Outfield’s Formation Breakdown is a fantastic read for more in depth discussion on City’s potential shape not only on Saturday, but for the rest of the long season as well.

Also check out the NYCFC Season Preview on American Soccer Analysis to get up to speed before Saturday’s season opener.

NYCFC Player Spotlight: Alexandru Mitriță

Major League Soccer’s third most expensive signing in its history, City’s new Designated Player, Romanian International, a young Giovinco, whatever you want to call him, Alexandru Mitriță has huge shoes to fill. The Romanian is a lethal forward with 12 Goals and 4 Assists in 16 matches this season, who is expected to take set pieces with the departure of David Villa. With NYCFC’s attack likely to be incredibly fluid all season with a multitude of options at each position, Mitriță is expected to play through the middle, with some time also being spent on the left. Unlike Maxi Moralez, he tends to stay in the final third of the pitch. Mitriță should find his name on the score sheet early and often.

Highlights


Orlando City Player Spotlight: Nani

The former Manchester United standout Nani was expected to finish his career at Sporting Lisbon in Portugal, back where he started. Many were shocked, however, when he made his move to Orlando City while in the midst of a great season in Liga NOS, with seven goals and four assists in eighteen league matches. All eyes will be on Nani in his first match, where he will likely line up on the left and face Anton Tinnerholm head on.

Match Prediction:

NYCFC 2 / Orlando City 1


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

Visit our website at thirdrail.nyc for merchandise, weekly game previews and more. Interested in joining? Click here.

Watch NYCFC @ Orlando City SC at 2:30 ET on Univision Deportes

Listen on WNYE 91.5 FM



The Third Rail Announces Partnership with The Bronx Brewery

                                                                                                   Watch Bronx, Drink Bronx. 

                                                                                                   Watch Bronx, Drink Bronx. 

NEW YORK CITY, March 22, 2017 - The Third Rail S.C., the largest independently run soccer supporters group for New York City Football Club, is excited to announce a partnership with The Bronx Brewery, the largest, independently owned brewery in The Bronx, for the 2017 Major League Soccer season.

Starting April 1st, The Bronx Brewery will become the official beer partner of The Third Rail. This partnership brings together two local, community-focused organizations, working together to create a lasting impact in The Bronx. Together the two organizations will support NYCFC supporters culture by providing beer at a variety of Third Rail events, work together on community service events, and host unique experiences at the South Bronx brewery location.

Rox Fontaine, President of The Third Rail said:

“As a supporter organization with over 1000 members, The Third Rail is focused on supporting NYCFC and the local community. Engaging with members and fans over pints is a part of our culture, and we couldn’t be happier to work with a brewery that is local, active in The Bronx, and wants to work with us to support our mission in NYC. Cheers to that!”

Patrick Libonate, The Bronx Brewery VP of Marketing, commented:

“As a local business based in the South Bronx, we are thrilled to partner with The Third Rail, a group of supporters as passionate about their team as we are about beer, and who both possess a shared love for The Bronx. There's no better tradition in sports than enjoying a soccer match and beers with friends, and so we look forward to year one of this partnership.”

Important Home Opener Pre-Match Information

The moment we've all been waiting for has finally arrived. The season is here and after earning 3 points in Chicago to start the season, the boys in blue head to Yankee Stadium for the first home match of the year against Toronto FC on Sunday (3/13) at 5PM.

We have reason to celebrate! The Third Rail family is finally back together after an offseason that felt like an eternity. So before Sunday's match, we'll be meeting at Billy's Sports Bar just steps from Yankee Stadium for a pre-match party and scarf giveaway. 

Here are the details: 

  • Where: Billy's Sports Bar (856 River Ave.)
  • When: 3/13 - 2PM to 4PM (Scarfs aren't guaranteed after 4PM)
  • Why: There are tons of reasons!
    • Get your FREE Third Rail Scarf
    • Enjoy a $5 buffet
    • Donate canned goods to BronxWorks
    • Use our opening day Third Rail filter on Snapchat

Snap for a chance to win!

Are you on Snapchat? Then you could win a Third Rail Prize Package that includes sunglasses, a scarf and a patch. The rules are simple, go to Billy's on Sunday to unlock our Third Rail filter on Snapchat. Snap yourself in Third Rail gear, use the filter and post it on Twitter or Instagram @ThirdRailSC and we'll choose one lucky winner!

2016 Third Rail Members Scarf

2016 Third Rail Members Scarf