Of Mice and Men: Planning NYCFC’s Next 3 Fixtures

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It’s true that it would be more than a little gratifying to use this space to celebrate NYCFC’s first win since March, and the fact that the Baby Blues have accumulated more points thus far in June than they did in April and May combined. However, it’s also true that we are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility of our future, and at no time is that responsibility potentially greater than over the course of NYCFC’s next 3 fixtures.

Starting June 13, NYCFC will play three games – two against division rivals, and one against a local rival – in eight days in three different stadia, during which their notoriously thin defense will be further hobbled by injuries, when one of their strikers will be on international duty, and when one of their midfielders will be in the process of returning from serving a beat down on the #1 and #6 teams in the world.

Ahem…

So who does Kreis play in NYCFC’s next 3 fixtures? Can he play the team that won in Philadelphia all three games, in an effort to keep alive the momentum that may or may not have been born on the banks of the Delaware?

Well, no, if for no other reasons than because Nemec will be in Slovakia and because you’d have to be nuts to play Villa on Hofstra’s FieldTurf.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Saturday’s match is against Montreal, who’ve won their last five including against Vancouver and Dallas. Plus they’ve got 14 points on only 10 games, which is 3 points more in 4 games fewer than the Citizens. So Saturday is going to be a bit of a bear.

Thus it makes sense to fiddle as little as possible with the lineup that beat the Union. Indeed the only change is of necessity – swapping in Mullins for the absent Nemec:

Saunders

Wingert Hernandez Brovsky Facey

Jacobson Poku Velazquez McNamara

Mullins Villa

Not only does this reward the winners, not only does it potentially build on whatever voodoo these eleven had, but you’ll have a bench full of subs should any of them start to tire.

Hopefully they’ll be fit enough to play the full 90 though, because you’ll want those subs as a backup plan for the game a short four days later at Shuart Stadium against the Cosmos in the Open Cup.

For starters, give Saunders a rest and hand the goalkeeping over to Meara for this one. He deserves an opportunity to get the bad taste of the match in Chicago out of his system. And let’s put Allen and Watson-Siriboe in front of him – two guys who need some game time after injury.

After that, well, it starts to get dicey because of injuries. So let’s try something a little ballsy – let’s bring Ashani Fairclough and Andrae Campbell up from Wilmington. They already play together (so there should be some chemistry), and it’s the perfect opportunity to see how they mix with the club. But best of all, Legion Stadium (the Hammerheads home) is FieldTurf – so they’re already more familiar with it than just about anyone on the NYCFC squad.

And the last thing the team needs right now is an injury because of the playing surface.

Which is why we’re not playing Villa. And assuming Nemec won’t be back in time, who goes up top (with Tony Taylor out for the season and with Khiry Shelton also injured?). Let’s put Nick Zimmerman on the same bus that’s bringing Fairclough and Campbell. Let’s see if he can light the lamp in Hempstead like he has in Wilmington, and if he has any chemistry with Mullins, who will join him in the attack.

And in the midfield? A modicum of consistency with McNamara and Velazquez getting their third straight start, joined by Grabavoy (like Allen and Watson-Siriboe, getting game time after an injury) and Alvarez and Dunn.

That gives us a formation that looks like this:

Meara

RJ Allen, Watson-Siriboe, Ashani Fairclough, Andrae Campbell

Mcnamara, Velazquez Alvarez Grabavoy, Dunn

Mullins Nick Zimmerman

Four days after that, of course, the Citizens make their first trek north of the border to the newly refurbished BMO Field, to face Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and scoring machine Sebastian Giovinco. And a team that are unbeaten in a month, and who have won their last three – including last week against top of the east DC United. The only chance of getting any points out of this is by going back to the form that got you your last ones, augmented with the guy who scored that amazing strike against the reigning world champions. Something like this, perhaps:

Saunders

Wingert Hernandez Brovsky Facey

Mix Jacobson Ballouchy Poku

Nemec Villa

Essentially the same team that started in Philadelphia – this time hopefully well-rested and champing at the bit ­– with Mix in for McNamara, Nemec for Mullins and Ballouchy giving Velazquez a break.

Of course, it only takes one new injury to flare up or one nagging injury to heal, one surprise red card on the pitch, or one amazing breakout in-game performance for all this to change one’s plans NYCFC’s next 3 fixtures.

Or even, the arrival of various signed or rumoured-to-be signed European midfielders…

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

 

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