by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)
Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. The Sounders FC travel all the way across the continent to The Bronx, NYC to face NYC FC, or as I like to call them: Manchester City junior varsity. Our boys in Green will have to fight not only the 4th place team in the league but also the more intimidating and arguably debilitating opponent that is jet lag. Sounders saw a team cobbled together out of mostly reserves and teenagers beat a Treecutters team fashioned in largely the same manner defeat said Treecutters 2:1 in what could only be described as an episode of High School Bowl. High in entertainment value, and also high in head-scratching value as both sides opted to field reserve teams in order to rest their first team regulars for a match in a league where over 50% of its 22 clubs qualify for MLS Cup. Mind boggling as winning the US Open Cup guarantees qualification for the CONCACAF Champions League. NYC FC, on the other hand, are coming off a humbling 1:0 defeat in Harrison, NJ at the hands of their rivals New York RB, the Red Donkeys, eliminating the Blues from the US Open Cup. A Sounders victory could put them in the top half of the table for the first time in recent memory.
The Good News
Sounders are on good form with three wins in the league out of the last five matches. This is two points better than NYC’s form over the same stretch. For perhaps the first time all season, the entire side is fit and eligible for selection. We have never lost at Yankee Stadium. NYC FC fielded a strong selection in their midweek US Open Cup fixture. This may affect the composition of the team for the Blues as their manager, former Arsenal and France standout, Patrick Viera, may elect to rest some or all of those who played in the Cup this Wednesday.
The Bad News
Essentially anything to do with numbers. We are 13th in the league and NYC sit in 4th place in the table, five points ahead of us. The statistics for goal scoring and defending favour NYC by a fraction of a goal per match in either category. Against common opponents, NYC have won three of seven for 11 out of 22 possible points. Against common opponents, Sounders FC have only one win from six matches and seven points out of a possible 18. We have only one win in eight away matches this season. NYC are a fortress at home having won four out of seven and having only lost once at Yankee Stadium this season.
Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – Johnson, 28, has played all of NYC’s league matches in goal. Newly arrived in The Bronx this season, he had previously played nearly 180 matches for Chicago Fire during his six years at Bridgeview. Johnson also holds five caps for United States.
Defence – Brilliant, 31, is a French national who is a veteran of Belgian football. Brilliant has over 260 matches of experience in the Belgian leagues and signed with NYC FC in 2016, playing 37 times for the Blues. White, 26, is an MLS veteran player with over 90 matches played, 26 with NYC FC. Callens, 25, is a Peruvian national who has played every league match this season for NYC. He played 86 times for Real Sociedad B and has 10 caps for Peru. Sweat, 25, has only 7 matches of MLS experience. He featured in the lineup in the midweek cup tie in Harrison.
Midfield – Ring, 26, is a Finnish national with over 150 matches of experience between the Finnish and German leagues. He played 76 times for Kaiserslautern. He has 43 caps for Finland. Lopez, 24, Has just over 30 matches of MLS experience. He holds 17 U-20 caps for United States. Harrison, 20, an English national, is a product of Liverpool and Manchester United and has played 36 times for NYC, scoring 16 goals since he signed in 2016.
Forward – Villa, 35, is a veteran of Spanish football. He has 97 caps and 59 goals for Spain in addition to 468 matches of football in the Spanish league, where he scored 237 goals. During his career, he played for Sporting Gijon, Zaragoza, Valencia, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid before signing for NYC in 2014. Make no mistake, he is the deadliest finisher on the pitch.
NYCFC forward, Sean Okoli, is a Federal Way, WA native and was developed by Washington Premier FC and Seattle Sounders Academy. He played 14 times for the Sounders U-23s scoring six goals and made three first team appearances for the Sounders FC. NYCFC and Costa Rica winger, Rodney Wallace, played 120 times for the Treecutters. Moralez, 30, is an Argentine national playing nearly 90 times for Racing, over 70 times for Velez Sarsfield, over 140 times for Atalanta in Italy, 34 times for Leon in the Mexican league. He signed with NYC in 2017 and has played every match this season. Maxi has scored 62 goals in his career and is the danger man in midfield. McNamara, 26, signed with NYC in 2015 and has played 61 times for the club scoring 12 goals.
NYC from: Johnson, Rawls, Johansen, Sweat, White, Chanot, Callens, Brilliant, Matarrita, Allen, Gomez, Lopez, Ring, Moralez, Harrison, Stertzer, Awuah, McNamara, Herrera, Camargo, Villa, Okoli, Lewis, Wallace.
Sounders FC from: Frei, Meredith, Miller, Evans, Tolo, Marshall, Alfaro, Torres, Jones, Fisher, Svensson, Alonso, Roldan, Fernandez, Lodeiro, Kovar, Shipp, Delem, Wingo, Mathers, Dempsey, Adekoya, Morris, Bruin. (This list presumes that the nine Sounders reserves players that were signed to short-term contracts this week have seen those contracts expire)
OUT: Shelton (hamstring), Pirlo (knee).
None suspended from either side.
Ryan Krasnoo of SoundersFC.com reported that if Sounders FC and Cuba midfielder, Osvaldo Alonso plays in today’s match, it will mark his 300th appearance for the club in all competitions. As I can’t imagine Alonso not being in the starting eleven, well done, Ozzie!!!