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


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.

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

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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 for merchandise, weekly game previews and more. Interested in joining? Click here.

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

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Players to Look Out For: Philadelphia Union v NYCFC

The bye week has finally passed which means New York City FC will be returning to action. They will hit the road tomorrow to play against the win-less Philadelphia Union, and will match up against them again on Thursday the 16th in the Bronx. 

The Union have allowed the most goals in the MLS so far, giving David Villa, who is expected to be back on the pitch, and company a great opportunity to get six points and move up in the standings. 

Below are some players to keep an eye on for the matches.

A Fresh Start

After sending Rais Mbolhi home to “clear his head”, the Union will be starting 22 year-old rookie John McCarthy, who will be making his MLS debut. Although the team has been off to a rough start, McCarthy will allow the Union to reboot their season at home. He happens to also be from Philadelphia and will surely have family and friends in attendance. Will NYCFC be able to ruin the hometown kid's debut?

The Captain Returns

David Villa's nagging injury is something he will have to work with as the season progresses. The bye week came at a great time, allowing Villa to have extra days to heal. It was clear that his talents were missed against Sporting KC, and we all know that if he plays, Villa can be the most lethal man on the pitch.

Fernando Aristeguieta

Try saying that name three times fast.

Fernando is the one bright spot on a team that has only been able to score on the road. It's safe to say that the fans will be clamoring for a goal at home, in what will be an intense environment. Fernando already has three goals on the young season (that’s as many as NYCFC combined), but if the back-line is able to shut him down, the boys in blue will be able to come out of Philly with three points.

The next couple of games will be critical in keeping NYCFC’s inaugural season moving in the right direction. Expect some exciting action on the field and in the stands. It's time to show the Union how the Third Rail rolls.

Also, don’t forget to keep up with the Third Rail on twitter @ThirdRailSC.

Posted by Andrew Singh

Andrew Singh is a Contributor and member of the Third Rail. Born and raised in New York, Andrew has a passion for many things such as music, traveling, and of course sports. He's recently become obsessed with fútbol, and enjoys chatting about NYCFC, and La Liga. Contact him via twitter @Singh_A87 if you want to get in touch and talk about The Third Rail, fútbol, or anything intellectually stimulating.


Who The Funk are Sporting KC?

On Saturday March 28th 2015, NYCFC will play it's fourth match of the year, and second home game of 2015 against Sporting KC.  When most people think of Kansas City, they probably look back to the magical run by the Royals last fall.  For those who may not know much about Sporting KC, here is a quick 101.

Who are They?

This is Sporting KC’s 20th season after being introduced as one of the 10 charter MLS members.  They were initially known as the Kansas City Wiz, and then eventually the Kansas City Wizards.  In 2011, the team re-branded itself to Sporting KC, adopting a European-style name.  Since their inception, Sporting KC have won two MLS cups.

Players to Watch

Forward Dom Dwyer - Dwyer had a breakout year in 2014 accumulating 22 goals – second most in the league.  He was also named to the MLS All-Star team in 2014, the first of his career.

Midfielder Graham Zusi - Zusi is best known from the U.S. Men’s National Team where he played in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.  He was involved in two notable plays; the corner kick assist against Ghana leading to the game winning goal, and the assist to Clint Dempsey against Portugal which ended in a draw.  Zusi was also the MLS breakout player of the year in 2011 and is a 3x MLS All-Star.

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Defender Matt Besler – Captain for Sporting KC and also played on the 2014 FIFA World Cup Men’s National Team.  He started in the three World Cup matches against Ghana, Portugal, and Germany.  Besler is also a 3x MLS All-Star.

This will be a great match-up for the second home game of NYCFC.  Be sure to get your ticket if you haven’t yet, and keep up with The Third Rail on Twitter @ThirdRailSC.

See you Saturday!

Posted by Andrew Singh

Andrew Singh is a Contributor and member of the Third Rail. Born and raised in New York, Andrew has a passion for many things such as music, traveling, and of course sports. He's recently become obsessed with fútbol, and enjoys chatting about NYCFC, and La Liga. Contact him via twitter @Singh_A87 if you want to get in touch and talk about The Third Rail, fútbol, or anything intellectually stimulating.