2019 MLS Week 21 Preview — New York City FC (8-8-3) vs. Sporting Kansas City (6-7-8)

With their full strike force all healthy, New York City FC looks to head into the All-Star break with back-to-back wins Friday night when they host Sporting Kansas City.

NYCFC (8-8-3) begin play this weekend fifth in the Eastern Conference on 32 points, seven back of front-running Philadelphia but holding four matches in hand. The Bronx Blues avoided a third straight loss last Saturday in Colorado, overcoming an early deficit to beat the 10-man Rapids 2-1.

Heber continued his run of scoring with an equalizer late in the first half in which Maxi Moralez notched his league-high 13th assist, and Alexandru Mitrita – who missed both of NYCFC’s losses due to injury – came off the bench and scored the winner on a curling 20-yard shot inside the right post on 83 minutes.

“It’s nice when we play our way and get three points,” Heber told the team’s official website after extending his goal-scoring streak to four matches after being sidelined with a hamstring injury. “Now we move up in the table and we need to keep working this way.”

Coach Dome Torrent also restored 19-year-old James Sands to his first XI after the center back missed the previous four league matches with a broken arm. After being able to monopolize possession against the short-handed Rapids, Torrent knows his side will be in for a strong challenge from a Sporting KC side which appears to finally be at full strength.

“I like their style of KC, I like this coach,” Torrent said of Sporting at his Tuesday press conference. “(SKC coach Peter Vermes) plays all the time position 4-3-3 and he has a clear style. I like how they play. I think they’re one of the best teams. You have to be focused all the time because they’re able to take control of the ball and create many opportunities.”

New York City FC has taken 16 points from their nine home matches (4-4-1), conceding just eight goals.

Sporting (6-7-8) are still trying to fit all their pieces together and make a playoff push, heading into this weekend five points out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. They were denied a season-high third consecutive victory Saturday, losing 2-0 at home to FC Dallas.

Despite outshooting the Hoops 18-13, SKC put only two shots on target, and the self-inflicted mistakes that led to both goals for FC Dallas only added to Vermes’ frustration.

“You’ve got to score. We should have been up 3-0 in the first half,” Vermes lamented. “We gave a stupid goal away. We never were dangerous enough in the second half. When we did get chances, we weren’t edgy and we weren’t clinical enough.

“The difference is they capitalized on two of their chances and we capitalized on zero.”

Sporting boast one of the more balanced offenses in MLS, as they are the only team in the league with three players having at least seven goals in Felipe Gutierrez, Krisztian Nemeth and Johnny Russell. Gutierrez, though, is the only one of the trio to find the back of the net in SKC’s last three league matches.

NYCFC has won the last two meetings between the sides after dropping the first two and carry a 219-minute shutout streak into this contest. Moralez and Jesus Medina scored on either side of halftime in last year’s 2-0 victory at Kansas City, with the Bronx Blues finishing with 10 men after a late red card to Maxime Chanot.

(Heber photo courtesy Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s