New York City FC v. Seattle Sounders Pre-Match Analysis

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR), Oakland, CA
Saturday, 2 May, 2015

With our Sounders heading to the Bronx this Sunday, for a Yankee Stadium meet and greet match with NYCFC, it got me thinking about auld times back East. So here’s the thing. I grew up for 35 years in Long Island, NY. Lived in NYC for 2 years. In the formative stages of MLS, my team was the NY/NJ MetroStars. It was awful. No matter how hard management tried to put amazing football on the pitch, the failures were steady and unyielding. MetroStars never won a domestic trophy. And then, perhaps worse than actually being disbanded, they were re-branded in the image of a soft drink, and the Red Donkeys were born. Despite my love of the Sounders, which is steadfast and never ending, it always has made me sad that NYC couldn’t get it together. The land of the NY Cosmos, Long Island Rough Riders, and such storied amateur clubs as Blau Weiss Gottschee and Brooklyn Italians, and no light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe NYCFC gets it right, maybe they don’t, but it’s worth saying that it’s nice to have a team represent NYC that isn’t named after a soft drink. But whether NYCFC succeed or fail, I’m Sounders ’til I die.

The Good News
I look through the NYCFC roster and have to say I’ve only heard of a handful of them, most notably David Villa and Mix Diskerud. NYCFC are on a terrible run of form, winning only one match out of eight played in their inaugural MLS season. Their only positive results in the last six matches are two draws. Sounders are on good form with 3-1-2 in their last six. David Villa, their best player, a dangerous predatory striker with a long professional résume at the highest levels of football, has been fighting a hip problem. If he doesn’t play for the Blues, that’s a good break for Seattle. NYCFC have a few other experienced players out for the season or struggling to return to fitness. Seattle have no reported injuries for this match. Former California Golden Bear, Andrew Jacobsen is a capable midfielder but will miss this match as he was sent off last week. If current form holds, Seattle should win this match.

The Bad News
Seattle Sounders have never played NYCFC in a league match. And like most things associated with the unknown, we can expect the unpredictable. Although there aren’t really a number of household names in the NYCFC roster, if you look at the career info on these guys, a bunch of them have made a number of appearances for clubs all over Europe and the Western Hemisphere. There are also a number of MLS league players with a ton of matches under their belts. Josh Saunders is a capable goalkeeper, (53 appearances for LA Galaxy and two caps for Puerto Rico) and will likely turn aside any but the best chances. Mehdi Ballouchy is the sort of creative midfield player that has the ability to twist a defender into a knot. Former United States standout (112 caps and 8 goals) Claudio Reyna runs NYCFC. If he’s anywhere near as good at this job as he was a player, we could be in for a tough ride on Sunday. Jason Kreis is the manager, and rounding out the coaching staff are C. J. Brown and Miles Joseph. They put proper football people in the proper roles, so this looks like an organization committed to doing things the proper way. A Bronx cheer during an awkward moment in a sporting event, can actually be quite hurtful.

Familiar Faces
Although no one on the NYCFC roster has played for the Sounders, George John a defender, played for UDub from 2005-2008. A familiar face to those of us here in the Bay Area, Andrew Jacobsen played at Cal from 2003-2007.

Although selections haven’t been revealed for the match (Typical), these are the selections for each club for the previous match:

New York City FC: Meara, Brovsky, Watson-Siriboe, Wingert, Calle, Jacobsen, Shelton, Diskerud, Ballouchy, Grabavoy, Nemec.

Seattle: Frei, Mears, Evans, Scott, Remick, Pappa, Alonso, Pineda, Neagle, Dempsey, Martins.

Fun Fact
The expansion franchise granted to Manchester City FC and the New York Yankees baseball club for NYCFC, was originally intended for New York Mets owner, Fred Wilpon. Wilpon and MLS were considering a reboot of the New York Cosmos, but Wilpon’s interest faded after his losses from the Bernie Madoff investment scandal. MLS then considered a bid from FC Barcelona to put an MLS team in Miami. This bid also failed.